Fun with the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League

 
 

Sure, hockey and basketball are fun, but for those of us who start feeling a little bit lost as the final out of the World Series is recorded, there’s nothing quite like baseball season.

That’s where the Internet comes in very handy. Even though it’s the off-season, we can still visit the websites of our favorite teams all winter long and keep up with their latest moves (two full months since the season ended, and the Mets still haven’t made any major changes. Are they under the impression that the bullpen is going to fix itself?).

In any case, as well as keeping up with MLB, there are many other sites of interest to keep a fan busy until pitchers and catchers arrives. Even those who have a cursory interest in baseball but follow women’s sports will enjoy the official site of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, which commemorates the players and teams profiled in the movie A League of Their Own.

So, you’ve seen the movie (in which, as has been pointed out on this site, the teams were populated with butch, but strictly straight, women. I mean, really, lesbian softball players? How silly would that have been?). If the movie made you think it must have been fun to play in the AAGPBL, keep in mind that athletic skills, oddly enough, were often secondary. Hard to believe, but then, we’re talking about the 1940s here — not exactly an enlightened time for women. Which accounts for much of the allure of playing: It represented opportunity, a way out of small towns and a shot at a better future.

Dorothy “Dottie” Schroeder, shortstop, Fort Wayne Daisies:

Not that the players enjoyed autonomy. Quite the opposite. Virtually every minute of every player’s waking hours was planned out. There was a rule for everything, most particularly concerning personal grooming.

When playing team sports, what could be more important than the skills one brings to the field? Well, as far as the forces that be that ran the AAGPBL were concerned, beauty deserved much more attention. Attendance at charm school was mandatory for all players, during which pre- and post-game makeup regimens were given great attention. How to shag a fly ball, not so much …

Edie (Perlick) Keating, outfielder, Racine Belles:

For instance, among the league codes of conduct, there is a checklist of 10 things a player should attend to after a game. At the top of the list were things like showering and washing, followed by some less important things, such as applying rouge, lipstick, and eye makeup. Rounding out the list at number 10, presumably the least important task? It is recommended that players “Check all cuts, abrasions, or minor injuries.” Yes, that probably would be a good idea. But put on that lipstick first, ladies!



Every other aspect of a player’s daily life was also monitored. Behavior? Remember that a lady is not ostentatious. The code of conduct specifies that “the All-American girl should avoid behavior that would make her conspicuous in public. One of the cardinal rules is not to talk too loudly … Do not use a loud voice, do not stare at people, do not knock into people and do not indulge in loud arguments in public.”

What’s that bit about knocking into people? Is that something that used to happen a lot back then?

There’s more:

  • Always appear feminine in attire when not actively engaged in practice or playing ball. At no time may a player appear in the stands in her uniform, or wear slacks or shorts in public.

    Lou (Stone) Richards, shortstop, South Bend Blue Sox:


  • Boyish bobs are not permissible and in general, hair should be well-groomed at all times, with longer hair preferable to short hair cuts. Lipstick should always be on.


    (Again with the lipstick! There may be no crying in baseball, but apparently there’s Maybelline.) And the league took hair way too seriously, calling it a “woman’s crowning glory.” Really! I couldn’t make that up!


  • Smoking or drinking is not permissible in public places. Liquor drinking will not be permissible under any circumstances. Other intoxicating drinks in limited portions with after-game meal only, will be allowed. Obscene language will not be allowed at any time.



    (WTF?? No drinking or cursing? What would Babe Ruth say? Along with pounding back hot dogs, drinking and cursing was half his game.)

The site is a fun read, containing a complete list of players and teams and some vintage photos. There’s also a nice display on the AAGPBL at the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York. Incidentally, if you’re a baseball fan who hasn’t been to the Hall of Fame, believe me, your life isn’t complete until you’ve made a pilgrimage. Get there. You’ll thank me later.

 
 

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