Women in Professional Baseball for Women's History Month

As I mentioned last week in my Women Inventors post, I see Women's History Month as a time to show Hazel women who were successful doing many different things. This year I found a bunch of books about women playing professional baseball. I remembered the movie A League of Their Own and I thought how fun to teach her about women in a non-traditional role and in a sport. It also helps that she has been hearing about the Boston Red Sox at school. 

We read the picture and easy reader books we found. Some were fiction and some were non-fiction, but the fiction books were based on true events.

Lizze Murphy

Source: Warren Athletic Hall of Fame

Lizzie Murphy was known as Spike and billed as the Queen of Baseball. She was the first women to holdout to be paid to play baseball. She always insisted on getting paid the same as the men on the team. She was signed by the Warren Shoe team when she was eighteen. She got paid five dollars a game and her share of what was collected from the fans. She started playing on amateur teams in her hometown of Warren, Rhode Island at the age of fifteen. She played with the Providence Independents and then on Ed Carr's All-Stars of Boston also known as the Boston All-Stars. Her picture was on the team's stationary. She took advantage of her gender novelty by selling postcards in between innings. She sometimes made as much as $50 a game. In 1922 the Boston Red Sox sponsored a charity game against a combination of New England and American League All-Stars. Lizzie played first base and became the first woman to play for a major league team in an exhibition game. In 1928 she played in a National League All-Star game becoming the first person to play in an All-Star game in both leagues. She also played a game in the Negro League covering first base for the Cleveland Colored Giants. (Sources: Warren Athletic Hall of Fame and Exploratorium

Effa Manley

The Negro League is the perfect introduction for the next woman of baseball, Effa Manley. Unlike Lizzie Murphy, Effa Manley did not play baseball. She however loved baseball. She met her husband, Abe Manley, at a Yankees game. Together they ran their team, the Newark Eagles. Their team was in the Negro League. She took over the day-to-day business things like play schedules, travel arrangements, publicity, purchasing equipment and negotiating contracts. Effa also worked hard for the Civil Rights Movement and worked to improve the conditions for the players of the entire league. She organized a boycott of stores that refused to hire black salesclerks. She also worked to get Negro League team owners paid for their players when the players were picked for the major leagues. Effa also fought for the Negro League players to be put in the Baseball Hall of Fame. In 2006 she was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.  (Sources: Wikipedia and Baseball Hall of Fame)

Toni Stone


Toni Stone was born Marcenia Lyle Stone. Toni was a tomboy and got the nickname Toni because it sounded like tomboy. She liked it and made it her own name. She started her baseball career at age ten when she played in a league similar to today's Little League. By age fifteen she was playing on a semi-professional men's team, St. Paul's Giants. Then she played on Al Love's American Legion championship team. In 1949 she began on the San Francisco Sea Lions. She quit the Sea Lions when she did not receive the pay she was promised and moved to the Black Pelicans of New Orleans. After a short time on the Black Pelicans she switched to the New Orleans Creoles. In 1953 she made history by signing with the Indianapolis Clowns as second baseman. The position was played by Hank Aaron the previous year. The Clowns were a showy type of team similar to what the Harlem Globetrotters became in basketball. In the off-season she was traded to the Kansas City Monarchs, but her age was catching up with her. She retired in 1954. She was the first of three women to play in the Men's Negro League. She married Aurelious Alberga in 1950. He was forty years older than her. She spent her retirement from baseball in Oakland, California and became a nurse. (Sources: Biography and Wikipedia) Note: The book Catching the Moon is about her young years before playing professional baseball.

Jackie Mitchell

Source: Exploratorium

Jackie Mitchell is known as the girl who struck out Babe Ruth. In fact I found two books on Jackie.
Jackie Mitchell was a pitcher. In 1931 at the age of seventeen, Jackie Mitchell signed a contract with the Chattanooga Lookouts, a Class AA Minor Team. She played in an exhibition team against the New York Yankees. She was brought out in the first inning after the first pitcher gave up a double and a single. Jackie took the mound in front of 4000 people and the first up was Babe Ruth. She struck him out and then Lou Gehrig was up at bat. She struck him out as well. Next up was Tony Lazzari who drew a walk. She was then pulled from the game. The Yankees won the game 14-4. A few days after the game the Commissioner of Baseball voided her contract claiming baseball was too strenuous for women. In 1933 she signed on with the House of David, a men's team known for its long beards and very long hair. In 1937 she retired after getting sick of the side show feeling. She refused to come out of retirement when the All-American Girls League started in 1943. Major League Baseball formally banned contracts with women in 1952 until 1992. (Sources: Exploratorium and Wikipedia)

The All-American Girls League

All-American Girls Professional Baseball League logo
By The Pink Oboe [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

In 1943 the All-American Girls Softball League was formed. Philip Wrigley, owner of the Chicago Cubs, Branch Rickey, Paul Harper, and Ken Sells were the Board of Trustees. During the season they changed the name of the league to the All-American Girls Baseball League since they were using the rules of Major League Baseball, but this caused some controversy since the distances were shorter so they changed the name at the end of the season to the All-American Girls Professional Ball League. This title was kept until the end of the 1945 season when it changed to All-American Girls Baseball League. It kept this name until 1950. Over 600 women played in the league. The league played a modified version of baseball and softball. The players were paid well--some making more money than their parents. The salaries ranged from $45 to $85 a week. Some of the girls were as young as fifteen. The league also had high moral standards and rules of conduct for the players. The uniforms were designed by Mrs. Wrigley, Otis Shepard and Ann Harnett, the first girl to sign a contract. Ann Harnett became the model of the uniforms. They were similar to the uniforms of field hockey, tennis, figure skating of that time. (Sources: AAGPBL League History and Wikipedia) Note: the two books on this league are fiction, but one is a fictional family watching a real championship game. I also found a few more books about the League, but they were not all appropriate for Hazel's age. Included in this collage is the movie A League of Their Own as well.

I also found some chapter books for older kids. We did not read these.

Dorothy "Dottie" Kamenshek and Mamie "Peanut" Johnson are two more women to learn more about from this sport. (The links will take you to Wikipedia pages on them.) For a more modern player learn about Carey Schueler

Mathematicians, Native American, Inventors and Baseball Players are the women we have been looking at this month. For more Women's History posts check out the following and be sure to check out the Multicultural Kid Blogs Women's History Month Blog Series with Link Party