Encyclopedia o f Chicago
Entries : All-American Girls Baseball League
All-American Girls Baseball League

All-American Girls Baseball League

The All-American Girls Baseball League (AAGBL) was founded in 1943 by the owner of the Chicago Cubs, Philip K. Wrigley, to retain baseball's fans during World War II. Originally conceived as a spectacle rather than a sport, the league combined the seemingly dissimilar characteristics of baseball and femininity—including skirts, long hair, and even charm school for the players. Initially a hybrid between baseball and softball, the game evolved over the league's 12 seasons into a sport with a smaller ball, longer base paths, and overhand pitching. These changes arose from the fans' interest in the players' skills and management's attempts to differentiate the league from its rival, the National Girls Baseball League, which was closely tied to softball. Drawing recruits from a national network of softball teams, the league peaked in popularity in the late 1940s, with teams in 10 Midwestern cities (such as Racine, Kenosha, South Bend, and Rockford) drawing more than a million fans annually. It began to falter in the 1950s owing to managerial problems, a lack of new talent, and alternative entertainments, especially television.

Cahn, Susan M. “No Freaks, No Amazons, No Boyish Bobs.” Chicago History (Spring 1989): 26–41.
Johnson, Susan E. When Women Played Hardball. 1994.