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Bobbleheads of senior lesbian couple from Netflix’s ‘A Secret Love’

Terry Donahue and Pat Henschel — the senior lesbian couple whose 72-year relationship was the subject of the 2020 Netflix documentary “A Secret Love” — have their own bobbleheads that were unveiled Thursday.

Donahue and Henschel are the first lesbian couple included in the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum.

Phil Sklar, cofounder and CEO of the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum, had the idea of a Donahue bobblehead after watching the Netflix documentary.

Bobbleheads Terry Donahue Pat Henschel

Terry Donahue and Pat Henschel — the senior lesbian couple whose 72-year relationship was the subject of the 2020 Netflix documentary “A Secret Love” — have their own bobbleheads that were unveiled Thursday. Photo: National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum.

Terry Donahue, Pat Henschel

“​​I thought that a bobblehead of Terry would be a great way to celebrate her life. But we quickly realized that we couldn’t do a bobblehead of Terry without Pat,” Sklar said. “We decided to do one of Pat that would fit together at the base.”

The couple’s “strong, everlasting bond” was a huge inspiration, Sklar said.

“It was clear that Terry and Pat’s story had inspired a lot of people,” he said. “We thought bobbleheads would be a fun extension of the documentary.”

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Donahue and Henschel met when Donahue was playing for the Peoria Redwings in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League in 1947. After more than 65 years of telling family and friends that they were “roommates,” Donahue and Henschel ultimately came out.

They married on Donahue’s 90th birthday in 2015.

Since 2015, the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum has produced officially licensed bobbleheads of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.

Bobbleheads

In a crouching position on a Peoria Redwings base bearing her name, Donahue’s bobblehead wears catcher’s gear including a removable face mask while ready to receive a pitch which replicates her AAGPBL baseball card.

On skates and wearing a red Moose Jaw Wildcats hockey uniform with No. 5 across the front, Henschel’s bobblehead holds a hockey stick on an ice rink base, which bears her name.

The two bobbleheads connect at the base.

The bobbleheads, which are individually numbered, are available for a limited time and only through the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum’s online store.

They are $30 each or $50 for the set of two plus a flat-rate shipping charge of $8 per order.

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Professional baseball player

Born in Saskatchewan, Canada, Donahue learned to play baseball with the help of her brother on the family farm and later played softball in school. In 1945, Donahue was invited by an AAGPBL scout to spring training the next year in Mississippi and was assigned to the Redwings, an expansion team based in Peoria, Illinois.

During her four seasons in the league, Donahue played every position except first base and pitcher, but primarily served as catcher. Listed at 5-foot 2-inches and 125 pounds, the right-handed Donahue collected 92 hits, 50 RBIs, and 44 stolen bases, and scored 67 runs in her career.

Donahue, who also played with the Admiral Music Maids in the rival National Girls Baseball League in Chicago, worked for an interior design firm in Chicago for 38 years while residing in St. Charles, a Windy City suburb.

In 1998, she was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and the Saskatchewan Baseball Hall of Fame.

In 2009, she served as the grand marshal during the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, joining former Chicago White Sox pitcher Billy Pierce and former Chicago Cubs catcher Randy Hundley.

Donahue, Henschel meet

Henschel and Donahue first met at an ice rink while playing hockey in the Canadian city of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, where both grew up.

One night, on the back of an ice hockey ticket, Henschel wrote a confession to Donahue.

“I’m a reader of books, but I’ve never read anywhere where a woman loves another woman. I hope you feel the same way, too.”

For the next several years, Henschel, who was 18 when they met, would travel with Donahue on her baseball trips and watch her play. The couple lived together in the Chicago area as “roommates,” and remained together, in secret, for decades – only coming out to their families in 2009 when they were in their 80s.

‘A Secret Love’

In April 2020, Netflix released “A Secret Love,” which was directed by Donahue’s great-nephew, Chris Bolan. The documentary was filmed between 2013 and 2018 and captured the couple in their final years together.

After suffering from Parkinson’s disease, Donahue died in 2019 at the age of 93.

Henschel, 91, lives in an assisted living facility in Canada.

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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