In the 1900’s, barnstorming teams known as “Bloomer Girls” were formed in parts of the United States of America.
An attempt to profit from the participation of women in baseball was thought to have caused the rapid increase in its popularity.
In 1931, Jackie Mitchell signed a contract with the minor league Chattanooga Lookouts. Mitchell pitched against the New York Yankees and struck out their two star players, Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig! Since then, in 1952, organized baseball formally banned women from signing professional contracts with men’s teams. This is still in effect today!
The amount of women in baseball was about to increase as the Second World War saw many men go off to fight for their country. This meant that many women took their place, to keep the game of baseball alive. It when then that the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL) was founded with four teams; the Rockford Peaches, the Racine Belles and the Kenosha Comets, and the South Bend Blue Sox. The population of women in baseball soared!
Rules encouraging the wearing of lipstick and long hair on the women in baseball were declared. Also the banning of wearing trousers off the field.
At first, the women baseball players played fast pitched softball, with a larger ball with no overhand pitching. In 1948 overhand was introduced. Women’s baseball’s rules evolved from the men’s baseball rules, with a few small changes.
The AAGPBL finally folded in 1954, due to the televising of major league baseball in the 1950’s. But the spirit of the women of baseball was to live on, as on November 5, 1988, the All American Girls Professional Baseball League enshrined memorabilia in the Hall of Fame, Cooperstown, New York. More than 550 names are on a plaque in the exhibit named “Women In Baseball”.
Currently, there are around 40 youth and women’s baseball teams throughout the U.S. They play in roughly nine leagues and independent tournaments throughout the year.