All-American Girls Professional Baseball League

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All-American Girls Professional Baseball League
Logo of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.svg
Sport Women's baseball
Founded 1943
Founder Philip K. Wrigley
Inaugural season1943
CeasedSeptember 5, 1954
MottoDo or Die!
No. of teams 15
Last
champion(s)
Kalamazoo Lassies
Most titles Rockford Peaches (4)
Official website aagpbl.org

The All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL) was a professional women's baseball league founded by Philip K. Wrigley which existed from 1943 to 1954. The AAGPBL is the forerunner of women's professional league sports in the United States. Over 600 women played in the league, which consisted of eventually 10 teams located in the American Midwest. [1] In 1948, league attendance peaked at over 900,000 spectators. The most successful team, the Rockford Peaches, won a league-best four championships. The 1992 motion picture A League of Their Own is a mostly fictionalized account of the early days of the league and its stars.

Womens baseball baseball when played by girls/women

Women's baseball is played in several countries. The strongest and most organized women's baseball leagues are in the United States, Australia, Japan, Taiwan, Cuba, Hong Kong, and Canada. Those countries have national governing bodies that support girls' and women's baseball programs. Other countries/regions that currently have organized women's baseball are France, Croatia, the Netherlands, India, Korea, Venezuela, Argentina, Puerto Rico, Colombia, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, and Pakistan. There also is a handful of women playing baseball in Vietnam currently on the Fishanu team at Hanoi University and on the Hanoi Baseball Club.

Philip K. Wrigley American businessman

Philip Knight Wrigley, sometimes also called P.K. or Phil, was an American chewing gum manufacturer and executive in Major League Baseball, inheriting both those roles as the quiet son of his much more flamboyant father, William Wrigley, Jr..

Midwestern United States one of four census regions of the United States of America

The Midwestern United States, also referred to as the American Midwest, Middle West, or simply the Midwest, is one of four census regions of the United States Census Bureau. It occupies the northern central part of the United States. It was officially named the North Central Region by the Census Bureau until 1984. It is located between the Northeastern United States and the Western United States, with Canada to its north and the Southern United States to its south.

Contents

Founding and play

With the entry of the United States into World War II, several major league baseball executives started a new professional league with women players in order to maintain baseball in the public eye while the majority of able men were away. The founders included Philip K. Wrigley, Branch Rickey, and Paul V. Harper. They feared that Major League Baseball might even temporarily cease due to the war because of the loss of talent, [2] as well as restrictions on team travel due to gasoline rationing. [3]

World War II 1939–1945, between Axis and Allies

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from more than 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 70 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

Branch Rickey American baseball player and coach

Wesley Branch Rickey was an American baseball player and sports executive. Rickey was instrumental in breaking Major League Baseball's color barrier by signing black player Jackie Robinson. He also created the framework for the modern minor league farm system, encouraged the Major Leagues to add new teams through his involvement in the proposed Continental League, and introduced the batting helmet. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1967, two years after his death.

Major League Baseball Professional baseball league

Major League Baseball (MLB) is a professional baseball organization and the oldest of the major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada. A total of 30 teams play in the National League (NL) and American League (AL), with 15 teams in each league. The NL and AL were formed as separate legal entities in 1876 and 1901, respectively. After cooperating but remaining legally separate entities beginning in 1903, the leagues merged into a single organization led by the Commissioner of Baseball in 2000. The organization also oversees Minor League Baseball, which comprises 256 teams affiliated with the major league clubs. With the World Baseball Softball Confederation, MLB manages the international World Baseball Classic tournament.

The women's initial tryouts were held at Wrigley Field in Chicago. Scouted from amateur softball games across the country, over 200 women were invited to try-out, and about 60 were selected for the league roster. Like the male major-league, the 'girls' league was also informally segregated, thus no African Americans were recruited or hired. Women were selected for their skilled play, but the player also needed to fit what was seen by marketers as a wholesome feminine ideal. [4] The first league game was played on May 30, 1943. [5] [6]

Wrigley Field Baseball stadium in Chicago, IL, US

Wrigley Field is a baseball park located on the North Side of Chicago, Illinois. It is the home of the Chicago Cubs, one of the city's two Major League Baseball (MLB) franchises. It first opened in 1914 as Weeghman Park for Charles Weeghman's Chicago Whales of the Federal League, which folded after the 1915 baseball season. The Cubs played their first home game at the park on April 20, 1916, defeating the Cincinnati Reds with a score of 7–6 in 11 innings. Chewing gum magnate William Wrigley Jr. of the Wrigley Company acquired complete control of the Cubs in 1921. It was named Cubs Park from 1920 to 1926, before being renamed Wrigley Field in 1927.

Chicago city and county seat of Cook County, Illinois, United States

Chicago, officially the City of Chicago, is the most populous city in the U.S. state of Illinois and the third most populous city in the United States. With an estimated population of 2,705,994 (2018), it is also the most populous city in the Midwestern United States. Chicago is the county seat of Cook County, the second most populous county in the US, with portions of the northwest side of the city extending into DuPage County near O'Hare Airport. Chicago is the principal city of the Chicago metropolitan area, often referred to as Chicagoland. At nearly 10 million people, the metropolitan area is the third most populous in the nation.

Softball Team ball sport

Softball is a game similar to baseball played with a larger ball on a field that has base lengths of 60 feet, a pitcher's mound that ranges from 35–43 feet away from home plate, and a homerun fence that is 220 feet away from home plate. It was invented in 1887 in Chicago, Illinois, United States as an indoor game. The game moves at a faster pace than traditional baseball. There is less time for the base runner to get to first while the opponent fields the ball; yet, the fielder has less time to field the ball while the opponent is running down to first base. The name "softball" was given to the game in 1932, because the ball used to be soft; however, in modern day usage, the balls are hard.

The league went through three periods of ownership. It was owned by chewing gum mogul Wrigley [1] from 1943 to 1945, wealthy publicist Arthur Meyerhoff from 1945 to 1951, and the teams were individually owned from 1951 to 1954. The teams generally played in Midwestern cities. The South Bend Blue Sox and the Rockford Peaches were the only two teams that stayed in their home cities for the full period of the AAGPBL's existence. [4]

Arthur E. Meyerhoff (1895–1986) was an advertising agency executive and entrepreneur. He was born in Chicago, Illinois.

South Bend Blue Sox Minor League Baseball team

The South Bend Blue Sox was a women's professional baseball team who played from 1943 through 1954 in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. A founding member, the team represented South Bend, Indiana, and played their home games at Bendix Field (1943–1945) and Playland Park (1946–1954).

The Rockford Peaches were a women's professional baseball team who played from 1943 through 1954 in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. A founding member, the team represented Rockford, Illinois.

In the first season, the league played a game that was a hybrid of baseball and softball. The ball was 12 inches in circumference, the size of a regulation softball (regulation baseballs are 9 to 914 inches). The pitcher's mound was only forty feet from home plate, closer even than in regulation softball and much closer than the baseball distance of 60 feet, 6 inches. Pitchers threw underhand windmill, like in softball, and the distance between bases was 65 feet, five feet longer than in softball, but 25 feet shorter than in baseball. Major similarities between the AAGPBL and baseball included nine player teams and the use of a pitcher's mound (softball pitchers throw from flat ground). By 1948, the ball had shrunk to 1038 inches, overhand pitching was allowed, and the mound was moved back to 50 feet. Over the history of the league, the rules continued to gradually approach those of baseball. By the final season in 1954, the ball was regulation baseball size, the mound was moved back to 60 feet, and the basepaths were extended to 85 feet (still five feet shorter than in regulation baseball). [7] Teams were generally managed by men who knew competitive athletics and were former major league players, in part to demonstrate to fans that the league was serious. [4]

Salaries were above average for women and ranged from $45–$85 (or $652–$1231 in 2018 dollars [8] ) a week during the first years of play to about $125 (or $1207 in 2018 dollars [8] ) per week in later years. The women's league generally went along with the men's late spring to early autumn season. [9]

The uniforms worn by the female ballplayers consisted of a belted, short-sleeved tunic dress with a slight flare of the skirt. Rules stated that skirts were to be worn no more than six inches above the knee, but the regulation was most often ignored in order to facilitate running and fielding. A circular team logo was sewn on the front of each dress, and baseball caps featured elastic bands in the back so that they were one-size-fits-all. [10]

During spring training, the girls were required to attend Helena Rubinstein's evening charm school classes. The proper etiquette for every situation was taught, and every aspect of personal hygiene, mannerisms, and dress code was presented to all the players. In an effort to make each player as physically attractive as possible, each received a beauty kit and instructions on how to use it. As a part of the league's 'Rules of Conduct', the 'girls' were not permitted to have short hair, they could not smoke or drink in public places, and they were required to wear lipstick at all times. Fines for not following the league's rules of conduct were five dollars for the first offense, ten for the second, and suspension for the third. [11] In 1944, Josephine "JoJo" D'Angelo was fired for cutting her hair short. [12] The women's contracts were much stricter about behavior than in the men's league, and each team was also assigned its own chaperone by the league. [4]

The AAGPBL peaked in attendance during the 1948 season, when 10 teams attracted 910,000 paid fans. [11] The Rockford Peaches won the most league championships with four (1945, 1948, 1949, 1950). The Milwaukee/Grand Rapids Chicks were second with three (1944 in Milwaukee, 1947 and 1953 in Grand Rapids). The Racine Belles (1943 and 1946) and the South Bend Blue Sox (1951 and 1952) each won two, and the Kalamazoo Lassies won in the league's final season (1954). [4]

Legacy

The 1992 film A League of Their Own , although fictionalized, covers the founding and play of this league. Geena Davis, Lori Petty, Rosie O'Donnell, Madonna, and Tom Hanks were the stars of the film, which was directed by Penny Marshall. The league is the forerunner of later-day professional league sports played by women. [4]

Lois Siegel documented the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League in her film Baseball Girls, which was produced by the National Film Board of Canada. Olive Little threw the first no-hitter in team and league history. [13]

Several histories of the AAGPBL have been published in book form. [14] [15]

Although the AAGPBL was the first recorded professional women's baseball league, women had played baseball since the nineteenth century. The first known women's baseball team played at Vassar College in 1866, [16] while barnstorming Bloomer Girls teams. [17] (sometimes including men [18] )

Baseball Hall of Fame members Max Carey [19] and Jimmie Foxx [20] managed teams in the AAGPBL.

Logo of the All-American Girls Softball League, 1943 AAGSBL logo.jpg
Logo of the All-American Girls Softball League, 1943

The league went through a series of name changes during its history. It was founded as the All-American Girls Softball League, [1] but midway through its first season of 1943, the name was changed to the All-American Girls Baseball League (AAGBBL). [11] After the 1943 season, the official League name was again changed, to the All-American Girls Professional Ball League (AAGPBL), reflecting that players were paid from the start and further separating it from existing amateur leagues. [2] This name was used until the end of the 1945 season, when the league reverted to All-American Girls Baseball League (AAGBBL), which it would use through 1950. When teams were sold to independent owners at the end of the 1950 season, the official League name was changed to the American Girls Baseball League (AGBL), although it continued to be popularly identified as the All-American League or the All-American Girls Baseball League (AAGBBL). When the Players' Association organized in 1986, and gained recognition by the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1988, the name All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL) was chosen to represent the league, and that is the name commonly used to refer to it to this day. [11]

Rules of play

Uniforms

Reproduction 1944 Milwaukee Chicks uniform on display at Miller Park ChicksUniform MillerPark.jpg
Reproduction 1944 Milwaukee Chicks uniform on display at Miller Park

The uniform was a one-piece short-skirted flared tunic with a team patch in the center of the chest. The base uniform was designed by Wrigley Company art director Otis Shepard, assisted by Wrigley's wife Helen and Chicago softball player Ann Harnett, the first player signed by the league. [21] Shepard was also the longtime art director for the Chicago Cubs and spearheaded a series of innovative uniforms beginning in 1937. [22] [23] Shepard designed all visual elements of the league, including game scorecards and promotional materials. For his work on the AAGPBL and the Cubs, Shepard was called the "chief visualizer of mid-century baseball." [24]

Shepard modeled the uniform after the figure skating, field hockey, and tennis outfits of the period. The uniforms included satin shorts, knee-high baseball socks, and a baseball cap. [25] The team patches were modeled after each respective city's seal. [26]

In the beginning, each team was issued one uniform style, to be worn in all games. Shepard unveiled the inaugural uniforms in a palette of pastel colors: green for Kenosha; yellow for Racine; blue for South Bend; and peach for Rockford. The accessories (cap, belt, stirrups) were bold darker shades of the team color. As new teams were added, they were given a new distinctive team color (gray for Milwaukee, pink for Minneapolis). Road uniforms were introduced to the league starting with the 1948 season.

Theme song

The theme song made famous in the 1992 film A League of Their Own was the official song of the All-American Girls Baseball League, co-written by Pepper Paire and Nalda Bird (although in the movie, the word "Irishmen" was changed to "Irish ones"). [27] In their annual reunions since 1998, it is usual to hear the original AAGPBL players singing the song. [28]

Teams

Team timeline

Muskegon BellesBattle Creek BellesKalamazoo LassiesSpringfield SalliesChicago ColleensPeoria RedwingsMuskegon LassiesFort Wayne DaisiesGrand Rapids ChicksMinneapolis MillerettesMilwaukee ChicksRacine BellesKenosha CometsSouth Bend Blue SoxRockford PeachesAll-American Girls Professional Baseball League

League champions

AAGPBL Players Association

When the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League was unable to continue in 1955, its history and its significance were forgotten by Baseball Historians. Many people in the 1950s thought that women were not supposed to play baseball, so most female athletes competed on other fields of endeavor. Finally, in 1980, former pitcher June Peppas launched a newsletter project to get in touch with friends, teammates, and opponents that resulted in the league's first reunion in Chicago, Illinois in 1982. The Players Association was formed after a 1986 Reunion held in Fort Wayne as part of Run, Jane, Run, a local Women's Bureau event. Historian and Baseball card publisher Sharon Roepke (author of Diamond Gals) who was circulating a petition to get the Baseball Hall of Fame to recognize the All American Girls Baseball League asked the players at the Reunion to organize to help the effort. A meeting was held at the South Bend home of Fran Janssen, and the Player's Association was born. June Peppas was nominated President. [29]

National Women's Baseball Hall of Fame inductees

See also

Related Research Articles

Margaret Danhauser American baseball player

Margaret L. Danhauser[Marnie] was a first basewoman who played from 1943 through 1948 in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. She batted and threw right-handed.

Dottie Green American baseball player

Dorothy M. "Dottie" Green was an American professional baseball catcher for the Rockford Peaches in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL) from 1943 through 1947, and a team chaperone from 1947 until the league ended in 1954. Listed at 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m) and 150 pounds (68 kg), she batted and threw right-handed. Despite similarities, Green was not the inspiration for Geena Davis's character, Dottie Hinson, in the 1992 film A League of Their Own; Dottie Hinson was loosely based on Green's teammate, Dottie Kamenshek.

Dottie Hunter Canadian baseball player

Dorothy "Dottie" Hunter was a Canadian first basewoman who played in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League during the 1943 season. A member of several hall of fames, Hunter was one of 57 players from Canada to participate in the extinct All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.

Annabelle Lee American baseball pitcher

Annabelle Lee Harmon was an American female pitcher who played from 1944 through 1950 with four teams of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. Listed at 5 ft 2 in (1.57 m), 120 lb, Lee was a switch-hitter and threw left-handed. She was born in Los Angeles, California. She was the aunt of Bill Lee, a former Boston Red Sox and Montreal Expos pitcher.

Mitch Skupien American baseball manager

Mitch Skupien was a manager and executive in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.

Alma Ziegler Female basbeball player

Alma Ziegler was an infielder and pitcher who played from 1944 through 1954 in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. Listed at 5 ft 3 in (1.60 m), 125 lb., Ziegler batted and threw right-handed.

Jean Anna Faut [Winsch/Eastman] was a starting pitcher who played from 1946 through 1953 in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. Listed at 5 ft 4 in (1.63 m), 137 lb., she batted and threw right-handed.

Sarah Jane Sands Ferguson is a former right fielder and catcher who played from 1953 through 1954 in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. Listed at 5 ft 4 in (1.63 m), 120 lb., she batted and threw right-handed.

Dorothy Maguire American baseball player

Dorothy Maguire was a catcher and outfielder who played from 1943 through 1949 in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. Maguire batted and threw right-handed. She also played under the name of Dorothy Chapman.

Jean Cione American baseball player

Jean S. Cione [″Cy″] was a pitcher who played from 1945 through 1954 in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. Listed at 5' 8", 143 lb., She batted and threw left-handed.

Dorothy Ferguson Canadian baseball player

Dorothy B. Ferguson Key [Dottie] was an infielder and outfielder who played from 1945 through 1954 in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. Listed at 5' 6", 125 lb., she batted and threw right handed.

Thelma Eisen American baseball player

Thelma "Tiby" Eisen was an outfielder who played from 1944 through 1952 in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. Listed at 5' 4", 130 lb., she batted and threw right-handed.

Amy Applegren All-American Girls Professional Baseball League player

Amy Irene "Lefty" Applegren was an American baseball pitcher and infielder who played from 1944 through 1953 in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. Listed at 5'4, 125 lb., she batted and threw left-handed.

Gladys Davis (baseball) Canadian baseball player

Gladys "Terrie" Davis Smith is a former Canadian shortstop and outfielder who played in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League between the 1943 and 1946 seasons. Listed at 5' 5", 130 lb., Davis batted and threw right handed. She was born in Toronto, Ontario.

The All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL) was a women's professional baseball circuit which existed for twelve seasons from 1943 through 1954.

Mildred Warwick All-American Girls Professional Baseball League player

Mildred Marian Warwick [״Millie״] was an infielder who played from 1943 through 1944 in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. Listed at 5' 2", 115 lb., she batted and threw right handed.

The 1944 All-American Girls Professional Baseball League season marked the second season of the circuit. The AAGPBL expanded in its second year of existence by adding two franchises to the original four-team format. At this point, the Milwaukee Chicks and the Minneapolis Millerettes joined the Kenosha Comets, Racine Belles, Rockford Peaches and South Bend Blue Sox. The number of games in the schedule also increased to 118, while the final Scholarship Series faced first-half winner Kenosha against Milwaukee, second-half champ, in a Best of Seven Series.

The 1945 All-American Girls Professional Baseball League season marked the third season of the circuit. The action began with six teams, like the previous season. But the Milwaukee Chicks and the Minneapolis Millerettes franchises were renamed the Grand Rapids Chicks and Fort Wayne Daisies respectively. The measure took effect for poor attendances in the cities of these teams the year before. At this point, the new clubs joined the Kenosha Comets, Racine Belles, Rockford Peaches and South Bend Blue Sox, all founding members of the league. The six teams competed through a 110 game schedule, while the split season was dropped in favor of a longer playoff format with the Shaugnessy format: the one seed facing the three seed and the two seed against the four seed. In addition, the pitching distance increased from 40 to 42 feet during the midseason.

The 1948 All-American Girls Professional Baseball League season marked the sixth season of the circuit. The AAGPBL grew to an all-time peak of ten teams in that season, representing Eastern and Western zones, just in the first year the circuit shifted to strictly overhand pitching. Other modifications occurred during 1948. The ball was decreased in size from 11½ inches to 10⅜ inches, while the base paths were lengthened to 72 feet and the pitching distance increased to 50 feet.

The 1949 All-American Girls Professional Baseball League season marked the seventh season of the circuit. With the Chicago Colleens and Springfield Sallies turning into rookie development teams after the 1948 season, the AAGPBL was left with eight squads: the Kenosha Comets, Fort Wayne Daisies, Grand Rapids Chicks, Muskegon Lassies, Peoria Redwings, Racine Belles, Rockford Peaches and South Bend Blue Sox. The teams competed through a 112-game schedule.

References

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  26. @@AAGPBL (April 6, 2018). "On top are the logos used in #ALeagueofTheirOwn and on the bottom are the real logos. The logos are actually the city seal of the towns they played in. Why they changed the logos for the movie? Because it looked better on camera" (Tweet) via Twitter.
  27. Victory Song at All-American Girls Professional Baseball League official site
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  29. { Minutes of AAGPBL origin meeting; personal recollection of participant Sharon Roepke}
  30. "National Women's Baseball Hall of Fame Inductees".

Further reading