As we head into the dog days of summer, Major League Baseball heads into the heart of its season. Millions of fans around the country will travel to ballparks to cheer on their favorite teams, and in the midst of all the peanuts and crackerjacks, it’s easy to forget that there was a time when the MLB was in dire straights – and several franchises were in danger of shutting down.
During World War II, so many men had volunteered to fight or been drafted, that owners began to worry about maintaining their teams - and their ballparks. That sent Chicago Cubs owner Philip K. Wrigley in search of a solution. As fans of the popular Penny Marshall film A League of Their Own well know – the answer was the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. The league existed from 1943 to 1954 and played a hybridized version of softball and baseball throughout the Midwest. At its height, the league drew more than 900,000 fans in a season. More than 600 talented women played in the league – we’ll talk with one of those players in just a little bit. And while the AAGPBL association is still active today, we’re losing more of these athletes every day.
But a new amateur league is hoping to keep the history of these professional ballplayers alive. Lake Effect’s Stephanie Lecci takes us out to the ball game at Old World Wisconsin in Eagle to learn more about the WWII Girls Baseball Living History League.
The Kenosha Comets, sadly, lost to the Rockford Peaches-slash-South Bend Blue Sox-slash-Racine Belles. But they'll be playing the Belles/Blue Sox at Trimborn Farm in Greendale this Sunday afternoon.
In this supplemental audio, founder Rebecca Tulloch of Bartlett, Illinois, talks about how the living history league recruits and what rules they play by.