Beyond "A League of Their Own"
Much of my knowledge regarding women's baseball stemmed from watching the classic, A League of Their Own. This movie is actually a fictionalized story based on the real-life All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL). Established during World War II, the AAGPBL was established as a way for baseball to stay in the public eye, while many of Major League Baseball's biggest stars—such as Ted Williams, Bob Feller, and Joe DiMaggio—went overseas to serve.
Thanks to female baseball pioneers and the AAGBPBL, women are able to thrive in the once male-dominated sport. Check out some of these books on women who have transformed the world of baseball:
1. Encyclopedia of Women and Baseball edited by Leslie A. Heaphy
Published in 2006, this is likely the be-all-end-all when it comes to the topic of women who were involved with the sport. It organizes the women by their maiden name, and then includes their married name if they did possess one. Plenty of statistics are available for players, as well as a rundown of the teams that the player played for. The cool thing about this book is that it doesn't only cover female baseball players: it's a comprehensive field guide for all of the women who were ever even involved with the sport of baseball. That includes women who once owned major league franchises, like Joan Payson, who was the first female to buy a North American sports team (as opposed to inheriting) when she purchased the Mets in 1962. Other former MLB franchise owners included are Jean Yawkey, Joan Kroc, and the "colorful-to-say-the-least" Marge Schott.
2. Bloomer Girls: Women Baseball Pioneers by Debra A. Shattuck
A brand new 2017 release! While I haven't gotten my hands on a copy yet, Bloomer Girls appears to be a fascinating look at how baseball became a hit with women in the first place during the 19th century. While baseball has primarily been known as a male sport since that time period, Shattuck does yeoman's work to bring the birth of women's baseball into the limelight. She unearths rehashings from newspapers, as well as "hard-to-find club archives", in order to bring the origin of women in baseball to the world. Women clearly faced many hardships in their attempt to play the game that they loved. With the Women's Rights movements that are happening all over the country in 2017, this book is a must for those who are intrigued by women's history, let alone baseball fans.
3. Curveball: The Remarkable Story of Toni Stone the First Woman to Play Professional Baseball in the Negro League by Martha Ackmann
I once wrote a blog post entirely about Toni Stone. For those of you who don't know, Toni Stone was the first of three women who played professionally in the Negro Leagues. She was first signed to a contract in 1951 by a promoter named Syd Pollack. The team Pollack promoted for was called the Indianapolis Clowns, who basically were what they claimed to be: clowns! They played credibly enough, but by and large were there to be a spectacle rather than a legitimate baseball force. However, bear in mind that this is the team that gave future Hall of Famer and home run king Hank Aaron his first contract. So, it's not as if this team was entirely about joking around. Irregardless as to whether Stone was recruited as a spectacle or not, she was able to keep her head above water with the men and play some solid baseball, becoming the first female baseball player to be employed by a professional ballclub for a lengthy period of time without having her contract voiced.
4. Remember My Name: My Story from First Pitch to Game Changer by Mo'ne Davis
This biography follows the life of teenager Mo'ne Davis. Davis became a household name due to her feats in the 2014 Little League World Series. While she is not the first female to take the field in that particular tournament (she's the 18th, Victoria Roche of Belgium was the first in 1984), she did notch many other impressive accomplishments over the course of the 2014 tournament. Out of all the girls to participate in the Little League World Series, Davis is the first of African-American descent. She is also the first female player to earn a win, record a shutout, and is the sixth to collect a hit. Her dominance turned her into a Sports Illustrated cover woman and a role model for female ballplayers everywhere.
5. The Origins and History of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League by Merrie A. Fidler
This book details the history of the inaugural 1943 All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL), established during World War II. The AAGPBL was a way for baseball to stay in the public eye, while many of Major League Baseball's biggest stars went overseas to serve. The league lasted until 1954.
For more information on women in baseball, please visit our catalog.