Philip K. Wrigley established the AAGPBL, which featured hundreds of female professional baseball players. The years from 1943 to 1954 saw the might of the League. In 1948, the League’s attendance reached over 900,000. The AAGPBL’s most successful team was the Rockford Peaches.
Bill Allington managed the League for most of its history. He won many of his career victories while leading different teams. In 1992, a film titled “A League Of Their Own” depicted the fictionalized story of the Rockford Peaches.
Wrigley was quite skeptical about what he could name the League as it differed from traditional baseball or softball in several ways. The size of the ball, the distance between bases, and it even allowed stealing bases which is otherwise not permitted in traditional softball.
Although “AAGPBL” is commonly used to refer to the professional baseball league for girls, it was only for two seasons. The League was founded in 1943 and was initially called the All-American Girls’ Softball League. In 1949 and 1950, it was referred to as the “All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. From 1951 to 1954, the League was called the American Girls’ Baseball League.
The League had three different ownership periods. From 1943 to 1945, the organization was owned by Philip K. Wrigley, while Arthur Meyerhoff owned the teams from 1945 to 1951. In 1947 and 1948, the League’s spring training games were held at a stadium in Cuba.
The uniforms female ballplayers wore featured a short-sleeve tunic dress with a pop of color and a slight flare in the skirt. Although the rules state that skirts should not be shorter than six inches above the knee, most were ignored to make the most of the playing field. A team logo was sewn on each dress’ front, and elastic bands were attached to the back.
Ann Harnett was the first girl to sign up with the All-Americans. Claire Schillace, Shirley Jameson, and Edythe Perlick were notable individuals who joined.
The All-Americans’ female ballplayers were required to attend evening charm school classes held by philanthropist Helena Rubinstein. They were taught proper etiquette, mannerisms, and the dress code. Each player was provided with a beauty kit that included various products to make them look more attractive.
The League’s rules of conduct required that the girls refrain from smoking, drinking, or having short hair in public places. Violators would be fined five dollars, ten for the second offense and a suspension for the third offense.
The All-Americans traveled to various locations during the 1946–1948 seasons. They held spring training in Mississippi, Cuba, and Florida.
The Rockford Peaches won four league championships during the 1945 through 1950 seasons. The Chicks came in second with three titles, while the South Bend Blue Sox and the Racine Belles claimed two each. The Lassies won the last season of the League.
The 1992 film’s theme song was the All-American Girls League’s official song. Bird and Paire co-wrote it. Although the term “Irishmen” was substituted with “Irish ones,” it still refers to them.
The All-American Girls professional baseball league was dissolved in 1955. Baseball historians forgot its history, as people during the 1950s believed that women were not allowed to play baseball. Most of the female athletes then competed in other fields. In 1980, former All-American Girls player June Peppas started a newsletter project to keep in touch with her former teammates. The League’s first reunion was held in 1982.
The Players Association was formed following a reunion in Fort Wayne in 1986 as part of the Run, Jane Run event. Sharon Roepke, a historian and the author of Diamond Gals, asked the players to help get recognition from the All-American Girls Baseball League Hall of Fame. After a meeting was held at Fran Janssen’s home in South Bend, the group was established. June Peppas, nominated for president, was the association’s first president.