Frances "Sonny" Dunlap was born to George F. and Myrtle Dunlap, probably near Farmington, AR. She was raised near Farmington, AR, and like her four older brothers, was athletic in nature. Her brothers Buster and Harold "Snooks" both played semi-professional baseball and basketball.
Dunlap attended high school in Farmington, AR and college at Crescent College in Eureka Springs, AR. She was a standout basketball player despite her 5'1" stature and joined the Tulsa Business College Stenographers in 1933. With them, she won three National A. A. U. girls basketball championships was twice named All-American.
Dunlap was also skilled at baseball. Dunlap became the pride of Washington County, Arkansas. In fact, the local community respected Dunlap enough to allow her play with the Fayetteville Bears baseball club of the class D Arkansas-Missouri League. On Sunday, September 6th, 1936 at age 23, Dunlap took her place in right field at Fairgrounds Park, seemingly without dispute. After all, Fayetteville had little to lose from the stunt. The game was the second to last of the season, and Fayetteville was on the bottom of the league standings.
A year later, Dunlap again appeared for Fayetteville, now known as the Angels. However, this time, Dunlap's appearance was publicized. A headline reading Francis Dunlap [to] Play for Angels Here Sunday appeared in the Northwest Arkansas Times wrote on Saturday, August 7th, 1937. Again, however, there was no reported dispute of Dunlap's exhibition. The Times reported on Monday of Fayetteville's 6-5 victory over the Monett Red Birds:
Combining the two games, Dunlap hit a career .200 with a 1.000 fielding percentage. Dunlap lived much of the rest of her life in Tulsa, OK. She died January 9th, 1990 and was buried in Farmington Cemetery in Farmington, AR.
"Besides-being an excellent cager with a deadly eye for the basket, Miss Dunlap is a good baseball player and can keep up with the boys, in running the bases. Like her brother, Buster, she plays either third or second base or shortstop"3
PLAYS FOR BEARS
AS THEY WIN, 5-1
Girl Basketball Star In
Outfield During All
of Game Sunday"
"With Frances (Sonny) Dunlap, All-America girls A.A.U. basketball player of the Tulsa Stenos, who lives in Farmington, near here, in their outfield, the Bears won the semi-final game of the season from the first half champion Cassville Blues on the Fair Grounds yesterday afternoon, 5 to 1. Miss Dunlap, who gave a swell account of herself during infield workout at third base, did not have a chance in right field. Neither did she secure a safe hit in three times at bat, but she connected with the ball each trip to the plate, and once made outfield Gene McCarty make a nice running catch. As far as is known here, Miss Dunlap probably is the first girl in history to play an entire game of organized baseball."4
"The fans were treated to an added attraction earlier in the game when Frances Dunlap of Farmington played the first five innings at second base. The well known girl athlete handled four chances without a miscue and made nice catches of lines drives by Jimmy Francoline, a new outfielder from New Iberia of the Evangeline League, and Bill Moyer. Miss Dunlap slapped out a single to left her first time at-bat and was swinging for another hit with [Barney] Lutz on third in the fourth but was a strikeout victim." 5
3. Fayettville Daily Democrat, 2/8/1934
4. Fayetteville Daily Democrat, 9/7/1936
5. Northwest Arkansas Times, 8/9/1937