Women and Baseball During World War II
In honor of International Women’s Day, BatBob is celebrating the period of time when women and competitive baseball collided. During World War II (WWII) most young men enlisted to fight the Axis Powers, leaving baseball teams in the lurch for talent. Philip K. Wrigley, the owner of the Chicago Cubs at the time, set out to save Major League Baseball Parks from collapse (AAGBPL.org) by organizing a committee to develop and implement novel ways to keep baseball parks alive during the challenging war times.
In the spring of 1943, the All-American Girls Softball League emerged (AAGBPL.org). However, this name was short-lived because the league was confused with existing softball leagues. Midway through the season, the league name was changed to the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League to better represent its brand and reflect the fact that they played according to Major League Baseball rules. After 1945, the league adopted overhand pitching and used smaller ball sizes to resemble baseball play. (AAGBPL.org)
During their first season, the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League drew over 177K fans across four stadiums (AAGBPL.org). This newly found baseball league was wildly popular and kept the country entertained and preoccupied as Americans battled overseas. After World War II, the league only continued for a few more years. However, the women created youth softball and baseball girls teams to carry on their legacy and introduce other girls to the sport.
The box office hit, A League Of Their Own, directed by Penny Marshall tells the story of All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. This movie is a must watch if you’re interested in learning more about this historic All-American Girls Baseball Professional League. The story of these women, their friendships and their competitive spirit is endearing, entertaining and relevant today.
All-American Girls Professional Baseball League Association Inc. https://www.aagpbl.org/history/league-history. Accessed on January 22nd, 2019