Nancy Ito

Reprint from The Path to the Gold by Mary L. Littlewood


As a teenage growing up in Denver, Colorado, Nancy Ito played the infield, developing into an outstanding shortstop and third baseman.  As fate would have it and because she was such an outstanding athlete, her coach, Andy Hale, asked her to learn catching when the regular catcher left the softball team.  She learned the position well enough to earn ASA All-American honors 13 times – five first team and eight second team accolades.


In the beginning of her 25-year softball career, Ito played for teams in the Denver area from 1947 to 1959 before a job transfer in 1960 brought her to California.  In California, Ito continued to play top-level softball with the Orange Lionettes.  During her 15 years with the Lionettes, Nancy participated in 13 ASA national championships and one International Softball Federation world championship in 1970 in Osaka, Japan.  She was a member of four ASA national championship teams and four teams that finished runner-up.  She participated in 18 ASA national championships during her career.


Known as an outstanding defensive player, Ito made only 10 errors in 1,401 fielding chances in 222 games in the Pacific Coast League from 1967 to 1974 – a fielding percentage of .993.  In five seasons, Nancy made only one error each season, and in 1972, she played errorless ball, handling 134 chances.  During this eight-year span with the Lionettes, she had an accumulative .242 batting average and a .986 fielding percentage with only 55 errors among 3,609 putouts and 378 assists in 603 games.


Former teammate and Hall of Famer Carol Spanks called Ito “the best catcher I have ever seen.  Not only was she strong and secure around the plate, but she had a great arm and was fundamentally sound in every aspect of her defensive play.”


Ito was employed as a computer programmer for the Federal Aviation Agency in Westminster, California, before she retired from amateur competition in August, 1974.  When the pro women’s softball league started in 1975, Nancy came out of retirement.  She played for the San Diego Sandpiper team in 1976 and serves as head coach of the Santa Ana, California, Lionettes in 1977.


In 1982, Ito was elected to the ASA National Hall of Fame.  She was born June 26, 1933, and passed away December 19, 1987.

For more on Nancy Ito, click here or on the Lionettes Hall of Fame Members_NI.pdf attachment below.

Ml Pennington,
Oct 31, 2011, 10:32 AM