Sport: Baseball & Swimming
Born: October 31, 1928
Died: January 18, 2017
Janet Bette Jacobs was born October 31, 1928 in Englewood. Small, swift, powerful and coordinated, Janet grew up playing a number of sports with her older brothers and cousins and learned to hold her own, and then some. Among those sports was football. Janet suited up for neighborhood games and no one was the wiser. “Jay-Jay” attended the Dwight Morrow School and played on the boys basketball team in 8th grade. She was the first girl in New Jersey to play varsity baseball in high school, as a sophomore.
In order to continue her diamond career, Janet tried out for the All American Girls Professional Baseball League in the spring of 1945 and made the Racine Belles at the age of 17. She was a switch-hitting infielder/outfielder that year for the playoff-bound managed by former big-leaguer Red Murphy, often playing besides AAGPBL superstar Sophie Kurys. On opening night, Janet played in front of the largest crowd of the season, with more than 4,000 fans jamming into tiny Horlick Field. She hit two homers and stole 8 bases in her one and only year with the AAGPBL.
Janet enrolled at the University of Miami, where she took up swimming and tennis. In 1947, she established a U.S. record in the 50-yard freestyle, breaking a record held by Esther Williams. Janet transferred to Purdue to complete her studies, finishing with a BS in chemistry. Following graduation, Janet moved back to New Jersey, went to work for Allied Chemical and married Gordon Murk. She coached Little League baseball teams in Englewood throughout the 1950s. One of her players was a boy from the Bronx named Richie Scheinblum, whom she taught to switch-hit. Scheinblum went on to have a seven-year major-league career. Later, Janet became one of the top platform (paddle) tennis players in the state.
Janet and Gordon moved to western Bergen County and ran a newspaper distribution business for many years. She passed away in Franklin Lakes at the age of 88.