Sister Toni Ann Palermo

Sister Toni Ann PalermoSister Toni Ann Palermo was born in Forest Park, Illinois, on February 15, 1933. As a teenager, Toni played as part of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL) in 1949 and 1950, for the Chicago Colleens and the Springfield Sallies as a shortstop and she also played professional softball with the Parichy Bloomer girls in the NGBL (National Girls Baseball League).

Toni was received into the School Sisters of St. Francis in 1954 and earned her bachelor’s degree in English, history, and math from Alverno College. She then earned three master’s degrees and a Doctor of Philosophy degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

She was recognized by the Baseball Association of Chicago for "Excellence as an AAGPBL Player, Educator and Leader.” She was also honored with the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee’s Values in Action award. Tom Heinen, the conference’s executive director, said the conference wanted “to honor Toni for her long career as a vowed woman religious living out the charism of the School Sisters of St. Francis through her various teaching assignments, and for her work with the poor and for her work supporting and empowering women.”

“God has had his hand guiding me on this journey since day one,” Sister Toni said. “If anyone never should have entered the convent, it was yours truly!” She recalled that when she was playing professional baseball, “my roommate, who was a staunch Catholic, would say, ‘Toni, get up, we’re going to Mass.’ Most of the time I had to get up because she was forceful!”

“Baseball taught me discipline and how to be coachable,” she said. “In life, we have to be coachable. We really have so much pride and can’t take any suggestions and just don’t grow. In every sport I’ve been in, you have to be coachable; that’s truly how our lives go.”

Sister Toni touched the lives of so many people during her life. Our lives have certainly been blessed by knowing her. Toni, you made a difference – more than you could ever know.

Sister Toni Ann Palermo was born to eternal life on April 5, 2024. Please click here to visit Sister Toni’s memorial page on our website.