LOWELL, Massachusetts (CNN) — A baseball fan in Massachusetts got the surprise of her life when she realized her new job at an assisted living facility had her caring for her childhood idol.
The two became fast friends, and that friendship soon blossomed into a league of its own.
When Karen Reeney started her job at D’Youville Live and Wellness Community last year, the first resident she met was Marie Mansfield.
“The director introduced us and we were having a conversation and she said, ‘Oh, Marie was a baseball player back in the day,’ and I said, ‘Oh, like “League of Their Own” baseball player?'”
A little background on Reeney — “A League of Their Own” is her favorite movie. She said she’s watched the 1992 film no less than 100 times.
So it was a natural follow-up question, but she didn’t expect the response she received.
“And she says, ‘As a matter of fact, yes!'”
Indeed, from 1950 to 1954, Marie “Boston” Mansfield played as a pitcher for The Rockford Peaches — the very team that inspired the film.
“Yeah, that’s who I was — Marie ‘Mansfield’ Kelley, Rockford Peaches,” Mansfield said.
“Right then, my thoughts went right back to my dad and the baseball he gave me,” Reeney said.
Years ago, Reeney’s father waited hours in line to get an autograph for his daughter from a player on her favorite team. And that player was Marie Mansfield.
“To me, that was a message from my dad that, yeah, you are in the right place, so it was quite the emotional moment,” Reeney said. “Twenty years, you (Mansfield) were hanging out with me and we had no idea.”
At 88 years old, Mansfield’s memory is starting to fade, but her pitch is as strong as her legacy.
She’s been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame and this Sunday, she’ll throw the first pitch at Fenway Park.
And the bond she now shares with Reeney is on that can only be explained by fate.
“To meet her and her be the first person I met walking in here, it was amazing, amazing,” Reeney said.