All-American Girls Professional Baseball League 70th Anniversary
Most people (including myself) know of the AAGPBL from the 1992 movie A League of Their Own. But as often happens with history and fiction, sometimes I forget that these were real women. At least until this weekend. As I sat with my husband and son to watch a baseball game, I heard an announcement that intrigued me. Five women were introduced at home plate as former AAGPBL players, honored in this the 70th anniversary of the girls professional baseball league organized in 1943. What I didn’t realize is that this league was around until 1954! (For more information, here’s the link to the AAGPBL website: http://www.aagpbl.org/)
I felt almost giddy with excitement! Who knew that history and baseball would intersect in this way on this day. The announcement came that the ladies would be signing autographs until the third inning. I grabbed my notebook and proceeded to the place where their table was set up.
They were still spunky, these 80ish-year-old ladies. But that didn’t surprise me considering their past. But now they looked like anyone else grandmother or great-grandmother. Each signed their name on my paper and chatted for a few minutes. I snapped a couple of pictures and it was done. But that was only the beginning. When I came home again, I looked up their names to learn more about them. So let me share what I learned:
Katie Horstman played for the Ft. Wayne Daisies from 1951-1954. One of the fun facts I discovered about her? She was a consultant on the movie A League of Their Own! Here is a great article about Katie: http://pressprosmagazine.com/in-a-league-of-her-own-katie-horstman/
Maybelle Blair played one year–1948–for the Peoria Redwings. She was a pitcher.
Barbara J. Payne is a Louisiana girl who played from 1949-1951 for several different teams. She was part of an association that helped bring the Women in Baseball exhibit to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1988. She is the only girl from Louisiana to play in the AAGPBL.
Dr. Elma Steck Weiss played two years in the league. She later became a doctor and served as a Wave.
Shirley Burkovich started playing in the league as a sixteen-year-old. She played for two years. She was also active in brining the Women in Baseball to fruition, serves on the AAGPBL Players Association Board of Directors and even had a role in A League of Their Own.
Meeting these ladies brought some history to life. I love it when that happens!
Have you ever had an unexpected meeting with someone who experienced something you only read about in the history books? We’d love to hear about it!