All-American Girls Professional Baseball League


All-American Girls Professional Baseball League

The All-American Girls Professional Baseball League was a women's professional baseball league founded by Philip K. Wrigley which existed from 1943 to 1954.

History

Although the name "All-American Girls Professional Baseball League" (AAGPBL) is commonly used today, it was official for only two seasons. The league was founded as the All-American Girls professional Softball League. This lasted until 1943, when the name was changed to the All-American Girls Baseball League. In 1949 and 1950 the league was called the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League and from 1951 to 1954 the league adopted American Girls' Baseball League.

The league went through three periods of ownership. The League was owned by chewing gum mogul Philip K. Wrigley from 1943-1945, Arthur Meyerhoff from 1945-1951, and the teams were individually owned from 1951-1954.

The teams generally played in second-tier Midwestern cities. Only two teams stayed in their home cities for the full 12 year period, the South Bend Blue Sox and the Rockford Peaches.

With America's entry 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. Initial tryouts were held at Wrigley Field in Chicago.

The name of the league is something of a misnomer, as the AAGPBL did not play regulation baseball until late in the 1954 season. 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 9 1/4 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). Over the history of the league, the rules were gradually modified to more closely resemble baseball. The ball shrank from season to season until it was regulation baseball size, the mound was moved back to 60 feet, the basepaths were extended to 85 feet (still five feet shorter than in regulation baseball), and overhand pitching was allowed. [ [http://www.aagpbl.org/league/rules.cfm Rules of Play All-American Girls Professional Baseball League ] ]

The players were also required to wear short skirts during play and lipstick at all times, to not wear slacks or trousers at any time, and to have long hair. [ [http://www.grpl.org/collections/grhsty_spcoll/exhibits/baseball/baseball_image.html The AAGPBL Image ] ]

During the 1946-1948 seasons the league went on the road for spring training. They went to Mississippi in 1946, Havana, Cuba in 1947 and to Florida in 1948.

During the 1947 season there were about 1,000,000 fans, the highest in a single season.

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).

The 1992 film "A League of Their Own", although fictionalised, covers the founding and play of this league. Tom Hanks, Rosie O'Donnell, Geena Davis and Madonna were the stars of the film, which was directed by Penny Marshall. Several histories of the AAGPBL have been published in book form. [Macy, Sue. "A Whole New Ball Game: The Story of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League". ISBN 014037423X] [Browne, Lois. "Girls of Summer: The Real Story of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League". ISBN 0006379028]

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 [Debra A. Shattuck, [http://innovators.vassar.edu/innovator.html?id=76"Bats, Balls and Books: Baseball and Higher Education for Women at Three Eastern Women's Colleges, 1866-1891,"] in the "Journal of Sport History", Summer 1992.] , while barnstorming Bloomer Girls teams [Berlage, Gai Ingham. "Women in Baseball". ISBN 0275947351] (sometimes including men [Ritter, Lawrence S. "The Glory of Their Times: The Story of the Early Days of Baseball Told by the Men Who Played It". ISBN 0941372081] ) flourished from the 1890s to the 1930s. There were at least three women players in the professional Negro Leagues (Toni Stone, Mamie Johnson and Connie Morgan).

Baseball Hall of Fame members Max Carey [ [http://bioproj.sabr.org/bioproj.cfm?a=v&v=l&bid=892&pid=2120 BIOPROJ.SABR.ORG :: The Baseball Biography Project ] ] and Jimmie Foxx [ [http://bioproj.sabr.org/bioproj.cfm?a=v&v=l&pid=4658&bid=229 BIOPROJ.SABR.ORG :: The Baseball Biography Project ] ] managed teams in the AAGPBL.

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 Lavone "Pepper" Paire Davis, and Nalda "Bird" Phillips. [ [http://www.aagpbl.org/league/song.cfm] Victory Song at All-American Girls Professional Baseball League official site]

Teams

* Kenosha Comets (1943-1951)
* Racine Belles (1943-1950)/Battle Creek Belles (1951-1952)/Muskegon Belles (1953)
* Rockford Peaches (1943-1954)
* South Bend Blue Sox (1943-1954)
* Milwaukee Chicks (1944)/Grand Rapids Chicks (1945-1954)
* Minneapolis Millerettes (1944)
* Fort Wayne Daisies (1945-1954)
* Muskegon Lassies (1946-1949)/Kalamazoo Lassies (1950-1954)
* Peoria Redwings (1946-1951)
* Chicago Colleens (1948)
* Springfield Sallies (1948)

League Champions

*1943 Racine Belles
*1944 Milwaukee Chicks
*1945 Rockford Peaches
*1946 Racine Belles
*1947 Grand Rapids Chicks
*1948 Rockford Peaches
*1949 Rockford Peaches
*1950 Rockford Peaches
*1951 South Bend Blue Sox
*1952 South Bend Blue Sox
*1953 Grand Rapids Chicks
*1954 Kalamazoo Lassies

Former players

* Bonnie Baker
* Jaynne Bittner
* Helen Callaghan
* Faye Dancer
* Millie Deegan
* Maddy English
* Dorothy Kamenshek
* Olive Little
* Betty Trezza
* Dr. Mary Roundtree
* Betty Whiting
* Dottie Wiltse

References

External links

* [http://www.aagpbl.org/ Official site of All American Girls Professional Baseball League]
* [http://www.thediamondangle.com/archive/aagpbl.html Interviews with former players]
* [http://www.aagpbl.org/league/charm.cfm Charm School Guide of the AAGPBL]


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