If you read my blog back in 2011, you would have read a story I did on meeting some of my heroes, the women of the All American Girls Professional Baseball League. This all-female baseball league founded in 1943 by Phillip Wrigley of Wrigley Field/Cubs fame and Wrigley gum, took the place of Major League Baseball while most of the men were off fighting World War II. It went from 1943 until 1954. The league was featured in the movie, “A League of Their Own”.
I had the extreme privilege of meeting several of the women who played back then including Ruth Kramer Hartman, the Queen of Baseballtown aka the Reading Phillies. These women were always my heroes as they did exactly what boys could do. As a little girl, I thought that it was amazing that “girls” could play professional sports.
So this year when I chose a Halloween costume, I chose the one costume that would mean the most to me as a woman and a baseball fanatic…the uniform of the Rockford Peaches! Baseball Ross also donned the manager’s jersey…
For me, it was akin to a boy wearing his hero’s cape and codpiece. I was so proud to wear this uniform…
Just in case you missed it, here is a portion of the article from 2011 and the link to the full article on BaseballBesty.com follows.
August 9, 2011
Sara Jane “Salty” Sands of the Rockford Peaches
A League of Their Own
Before the movie, “A League of Their Own” few people born after the 1950’s knew of the women of the All American Girls Professional Baseball League. Phillip K. Wrigley, of Wrigley Gum and Chicago Cubs fame, wanted to keep baseball in the public eye during World War II, when most able-bodied men were away fighting.
These woman played professional sport at a time when most women would be expected to stay home, have babies and keep house; MAY BE have a job such as a secretary, but professional sports? It was unheard of. They likely didn’t know it at the time, but they started to break down the barriers, break the stereotypes that allow women to do what ever they want to do today.
Along this line, other than the fact that I, myself appreciate this, what stood out to me, was the little girl in the teal shirt in the first photo above. She was so excited to meet these ladies, she asked to have her picture taken with each and every one of them. For any other little girl, you might have thought that there were six Justin Beibers up there signing autographs. She was nearly in tears to see these ladies who were clearly heroes to her.
When you look at the pictures of the ball below, you will see that these ladies just didn’t sign their name and pass the ball, they each noted what teams they played with and when. Ruth Kramer Hartman “The Queen of Baseballtown” made the comment to me, “These boys today, they just scribble on the ball. You can hardly read them.” It was obvious that they took this seriously and it meant something to them as well.
I think one of the more telling moments was when the gentleman behind me in line saw Sara Jane “Salty” Sands “Baseball Hall of Fame” t-shirt. He asked her, “Oh so you’re in the women’s hall of fame.” She gave him the eye and said, “No, THE Hall of Fame, the one in COOPERSTOWN, New York.” I was so proud of her.
As I mentioned earlier, Ruth Kramer Hartman is a Queen of Baseballtown. A King or Queen of Baseballtown is honored every year for their accomplishments and contributions to baseball/softball. Since 2003, only 8 people have been so honored…Ruth is the only woman, so far.
My first contact with Ruth was several years ago. Since retiring from teaching, Ruth has gone on to raise sheep for competition. Ross’ cousin also raises sheep. So one cold January Ross and I went to the Pennsylvania Farm Show to check out the animals and see his cousin’s sheep.
While we were standing there in the livestock barn, this lively lady walks by and says hello to Ross’ cousin and he introduced us and we spoke for a few minutes. After she left, Ross’ cousin told us who she was and that while they had been friends for years, she had only mentioned to him a few months earlier her storied past. Ross’ cousin was involved in a charity auction and asked for just a signed baseball. She sent a number of items, not just a ball. Ross’ cousin was astounded by her kindness and generosity.