Featured News - Current News - Archived News - News Categories

Hitting like a girl: the women who made sports history

by Sarah Morris - Copy Editor
Wed, Mar 28th 2018 12:05 am

What was once deemed “America’s pastime,” the sport of baseball had a bigger effect on the United States and holds a greater meaning for us as a nation then one would think. In fact, through the sport, it was Jackie Robinson in 1947 who stepped onto a major league baseball field and made great strikes for black people in the world of U.S. athletics. The sport also became the symbol of the “postwar search for efficiency and productivity,” according to the Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics (SCCE).

Along with integrating people of color into the sport, baseball also accepted women for a short period in the 20th century. During World War II, while the draft sent men to fight, some women took over for them in baseball, shattering female boundaries in the sport. 

This important milestone in history inspired a movie based on the real woman who played for the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL) called “A League of Their Own.” The girls’ names in the movie were mostly fictional, but they were based on the real AAGPBL as a whole.

Much like in the movie, the women who played baseball had to wear skirts to play and were required to take etiquette classes, or “evening charm school.” The femininity of the women displayed was important because the men believed the beauty of the women would attract people to come watch a ball game. 

The ages of the women ranged from as young as fifteen to late 20s. Each team had fifteen players, a coach, a business manager and a woman chaperone. The women earned anywhere from $45 to $85 a week.

In the first three years, about two to three thousand fans came to the ballpark to watch the women team’s play. Their numbers only grew and by the 1948 season, the 10 teams attracted 910,000 paying fans.

Unfortunately, due to the return of the men and the popularity of television, the AAGPBL eventually fizzled out completely in the mi-1950s, but it remains a very interesting and key aspect in the history of baseball and its story sits deservingly in the Baseball Hall of Fame alongside the sport’s greater-known male players.

For the 75th anniversary of AAGPBL, the living members are holding a special reunion/anniversary  celebration in Kansas City, Missouri. 

 

@selizabeth_96

smorr11@u.brockport.edu

Photo of the Week