GARY — Pauline Pyzia cherishes memories of her mom, Mary Lou (Studnicka) Caden, who died Nov. 21, 2014, at the age of 83.
Keeping those memories alive helps ease the pain of this second Mother’s Day without her, Pyzia said. So does honoring Mary Lou’s legacy as a family matriarch and as a right-handed pitcher with the All American Girls Professional Baseball League’s Grand Rapids Chicks during the 1950s.
Using Facebook, Pyzia shares photos and stories about Mary Lou and soon will begin rewriting a book she’s authored called “Mum’s Memoirs.” “Mum” is the name Pyzia’s 4-year-old grandson calls her.
The original book includes memories of her mother and her sisters, Pyzia said. The rewrite will include other stories about her own children and grandchildren.
Raised on a farm in Palos Park, Mary Lou Studnicka was the only girl in a family of seven brothers. At age 17, she graduated from Chicago’s Lindblom High School and joined the All American Girls Professional Baseball League, Pyzia said.
In addition to pitching, Mary Lou played second base. Each season saw her playing between 23 and 31 games against teams from all around the Midwest.
“She said the movie ‘A League of Their Own’ was nothing like what her team experienced. It was totally different,” Pyzia said.
After her final season with the Grand Rapid Chicks in 1953, Mary Lou Studnicka returned to Chicago and began working for Continental Bank. Later she was employed by the Chicago Police Department.
Born in 1958, Pyzia said she remembers the first house her father built in the early 1960s in Chicago, where she and her two sisters, Laura and Elizabeth, grew up. Pyzia said her mother remarried after her father died.
Mary Lou and her second husband, Paul J. Caden, “liked to golf. They moved in the early 1970s to Hot Springs Village, Arkansas,” Pyzia said.
Her mother stayed active most of her life, loving to bowl, embroider quilts and work as a hospital/hospice volunteer. Mary Lou was also a devoted member of Christ Lutheran Church in Hot Springs Village and when Christ Lutheran started a Community of Joy mission church in the Arkansas community, she went there.
Among Mary Lou’s many faith-based activities included membership on the church council and the altar guild, helping with Communion, serving as a greeter and making coffee at Community of Joy Church.
“She was supposed to attend an event for the baseball league in June 2014, but didn’t feel well,” Pyzia said, adding that as with other problems in her life, her mother faced the diagnosis of multiple myeloma with courage.
After chemotherapy, Mary Lou developed infections in November and died at an Arkansas hospital.
“I sensed her passing in my home,” Pyzia said.
“It’s been rough. I talk to her in my prayers every night, and I know I am heard, too,” she said.
“She is a VIP to me, my kids and my grandkids,” Pyzia said. “She lived a good life.”