A League Of Their Own

The All-American Professional Girls Baseball Team

The Beginning

The story that would become a blockbuster movie, starred Tom Hanks, Rosie O'Donnell, Geena Davis and Madonna. Though it was made almost 50 years later, it put the story of these ball playing ladies on the silver screen forever.

How it All Got Started...

World War II had begun and all of the fit young men, 18 and older were being drafted. This meant that all of the prime baseball players were being sent overseas to fight in Europe and Japan. Philip K. Wrigley, the gum mogul and beneficiary of the Chicago Cubs, had his general manager to create a committee to come up with ideas to keep fans in the stands, with lower quality players on the field. They decided that a girls softball program that would be up to playing inside major league stadiums, just in case attendance were to fall.

They formed the league as a non-profit. Also, they adapted the rules to help keep the games exciting and more like baseball, than softball. They used the same pitching style and ball size. But they wanted to expand the running game and hitting so they moved the bases, and the pitching mound back. The committee also decided to keep with the men's rules of nine out, instead of the women's 10.

All of the committee members and owners, had scouting connections all over America and Canada, they put in calls to these colleagues for help recruiting women to play in the new league. There was a women's professional softball league already on the map so that displayed the obvious first choices.

The First Signed

The first four girls signed were, Carla Schillace, Ann Harnett, Edie Perlick, and Shirley Jameson. When all of the girls were finally chosen, they were told that by signing the professional contract they could not have employment anywhere else. Each player was making anywhere from $45-$85 dollars a week. That was usually more than their parents were making!

Wrigley said that in order to attract more people to the games, the women needed to look feminine and pretty. So, he made contact with a beauty salon to teach all of the girls to make themselves over. After practice everyday the players had to go to charm school. Where they were taught proper etiquette, personal hygiene, mannerisms, and dress code. To make each player as attractive as possible, they gave them a make-up kit and told them how to use it.

Official Play

On May 30th, 1943 the first official games were played. A total of 108 games were played in the regular season. There would be a championship at the end of the season between the top teams. In1943, the first World Champion Girls Baseball team, was the Racine Belles. They beat the Kenosha Comets in the 5 games series, for the title.