Women In Baseball | Teen Ink

Women In Baseball

May 16, 2014
By Sara21 BRONZE, Sheboygan, Wisconsin
Sara21 BRONZE, Sheboygan, Wisconsin
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

In 1943 America was in the middle of World War II, and Major League Baseball was at risk. Citizens would look down on these generously paid athletes, because while they swung their Louisville Slugger, other’s had loved ones overseas risking their lives for freedom. It was during this time that the depression began, which forced many citizens to lose their jobs. The president of the professional league wanted baseball to come to an end because he thought that interest in game had been diminished and the league would lose too much money, but President Roosevelt was destined to convince him otherwise.

Roosevelt fought unemployment during the Depression by creating jobs. Working men (including baseball players) left to serve for the country. Many of the workers who replaced them were women. During the war, women took on masculine-like works of labor such as building tanks and trucks. But that’s not the only way they contributed, women got a little dirt on their skirts supplying entertainment by playing the game of baseball. Though, many insisted on only playing in their bloomers.

The owners of the Chicago Cubs organized the All-American Girls Softball League in the fall of 1943 as a non-profit organization. Partway through its first season, the league's board decided to change the name to the All-American Girls Baseball League because the women used many of the same rules as Major League Baseball. However, the women had shorter infield distances, shorter baselines and pitched underhand, which led to arguments to uprise about calling this sport "baseball." The rules continued to change throughout the seasons to take on more and more aspects of men's Major League, such as the use of smaller balls and longer base paths; the league's name also continued to be altered.

The uniforms worn by the female ballplayers consisted of a belted, short-sleeved 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 these regulation, more often than not, were ignored in order to make running and fielding easier. During spring training, players were required to attend an evening charm school. The proper etiquette for every situation was taught then and every aspect of personal hygiene, manners, and dress code were demonstrated. Also, in an effort to make each player as physically attractive as possible, each player received a beauty kit and instructions on how to use it. As a part of the leagues 'Rules of Conduct', the girls were not permitted to have short hair, 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.

In 1944, the AAGBL added the Milwaukee Chicks to the league's roster. The Chicks were a well coached and trained team. They led the league in runs scored with 492, a batting average of 207, 739 stolen bases and tied for first in home runs with 12. A women by the name of Dottie Wiltse Collins, had a six year career, a 117–76 record, and ended with 1,205 strikeouts. In her last year, she pitched 4 months pregnant until she retired at the age of 27. She died of a stroke in Fort Wayne, Indiana at the age of 84 in 2008, but today is remembered in the Hall of Fame.

Independent team owners eventually purchased the Women's League in 1950 and changed the name officially to American Girls Baseball League, though many still continue to identify it by prior names and today the league is recognized in the Baseball Hall of Fame as the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.

Today women continue to be apart of the game of baseball in many ways. Whether they make contributions, own a team, wearing team apparel, or even simply watching. As Walt Whitman says, "I see great things in baseball. It's our game - the American game."

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