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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. For 1947-48, spring training exhibition games were held in Cuba.

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 Fieldmarker in Chicagomarker.

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.

Salaries ranged from $45–$85 a week during the first years of play to as much as $125 per week in later years.

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

During spring training the girls were required to attend Rubenstein'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 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 leagues rules of conduct were five dollars for the first offense, ten for the second, and suspension for the third.

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.

The AAGPBL peaked in attendance during the 1948 season, when 10 teams attracted 910,000 paid fans.

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.

Lois Siegel documented the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League in her film "Baseball Girls,"(http://www.siegelproductions.ca/bbgirls.htm) produced by The National Film Board of Canada (http://nfb.ca/).

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 Collegemarker in 1866, while barnstorming Bloomer Girls teams (sometimes including men) 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 Famemarker members Max Carey and Jimmie Foxx managed teams in the AAGPBL.

AAGPL player Helen Callaghan was the mother of major leaguer Casey Candaele, who played for three different teams in the 1980s and 1990s.

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.

VICTORY SONG

Batter up! Hear that call!

The time has come for one and all

To play ball.

We are the members of the All-American League

We come from cities near and far

We’ve got Canadians, Irish ones and Swedes,

We’re all for one, we’re one for all

We’re all Americans!

Each girl stands, her head so proudly high,

Her motto ‘Do or Die’

She’s not the one to use or need an alibi.

Our chaperones are not too soft,

They’re not too tough,

Our managers are on the ball.

We’ve got a president who really knows his stuff,

We’re all for one, we’re one for all,

We’re All-Americans!

Teams



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





References

  1. Rules of Play All-American Girls Professional Baseball League
  2. [Johnson, Anne Janette. Great Women in Sports. Detroit: Visible Ink Press, 1996.]
  3. [1]
  4. [2]
  5. Macy, Sue. A Whole New Ball Game: The Story of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. ISBN 014037423X
  6. Browne, Lois. Girls of Summer: The Real Story of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. ISBN 0006379028
  7. Debra A. Shattuck, 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.
  8. Berlage, Gai Ingham. Women in Baseball. ISBN 0275947351
  9. 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
  10. BIOPROJ.SABR.ORG :: The Baseball Biography Project
  11. BIOPROJ.SABR.ORG :: The Baseball Biography Project
  12. [3] Victory Song at All-American Girls Professional Baseball League official site


Further reading: A Whole New Ball Game, by Sue Macy

External links




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