Baseball is a game of history. It’s a game played by many and loved by most. I find it practically impossible to watch a game with out being reminded of a player whose deeds have never been equaled, and whose name is never forgotten long after he is gone. He is the noun mainly used when discussing this sport. The majority of the names and records in baseball have been set by men. It is largely considered a man’s game, but lets take a look into our past.
In 1875, women who were paid to play baseball competed in their first game. In that era, an American woman could not vote, could not own property in her own name after marriage; she couldn’t do much of anything, but she could play ball… in an outfit that weighed as much as 30lbs and included a skirt that touched her toes, an underskirt, a long sleeved and high necked blouse, and high button shoes. Talk about a uniform!
Amelia Bloomer designed and wore the loose fitting trouser uniforms that replaced the unreasonable ones mentioned before, and before you know it many abandoned those for a standard baseball uniform. In the 1890’s, hundreds of “Bloomer Girls” teams were formed all over the country and offered employment, travel, and adventure to young women who could hit, field, slide, or catch. The Bloomer Girls teams dwindled as more and more minor league teams were formed to provide experience for young men on their climb up to the majors. Although women had been playing pro ball on the Bloomer Girls team for more than 40 yrs, in the 1930’s public opinion was that they had inferior abilities when it came to sports. Women’s professional baseball disappeared when the last of the Bloomer Girls teams disbanded in 1934.
The year 1943 now offered professional softball teams for women, but that was an entirely different game. In the 12 yrs that the league existed, it slowly evolved from softball to baseball, eventually becoming the All American Girls Baseball League. The AAGBL played its last season in 1954.
After the demise of the AAGBL, any woman that wanted to play professional baseball had to settle for softball. In 1994, exactly 40 yrs after the AAGBL folded, the Colorado Silver Bullets opened the first of their 4 seasons. There was no league, just a team of women who went barnstorming across the country, playing men’s college, amateur and semi pro teams. In 1998, Ila Borders, a pitcher for the Duluth Dukes, an independent minor league team, became the first woman to win a men’s pro game and retired from the game in 2000.