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AAGPBL FAQ: GENERAL QUESTIONS

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How close was the movie A League of Their Own to the people and events of the AAGPBL?

The idea for the movie came from "A League of Their Own, the Documentary," which was written by Kelly Candaele and converted to film with the help of Kim Wilson.  Kelly was acknoledged by Columbia Pictures for writing the story in the credits of "A League of their Own."  He was the son of former player, Helen Callaghan, and Kim, whom he was dating, worked for ABC Movies of the Week in Los Angeles.  Kelly stated that the story was written in honor of his mother Helen, and his aunt, Marge Callaghan, also a player in the League.  The sisters were Canadians, but in real life, they were not a pitcher and a catcher. Kelley thought the story would be more interesting to use those positions.

Over-all, the movie was a good portrayal of the league in general. There were many women who took the train from California to Chicago and from there went on to the various cities that formed the initial four teams of the league. There was also heavy recruiting in Canada, centralized in Saskatchewan because Mr. Wrigley (Chicago Cubs owner) had scouting ties established in the area.

All of the characters were fictionalized character and composites of some of the players in the league. Many say the real life personage of this or that player resembles the character of a certain player. Even the players themselves do not agree on who is most personified by the pitcher, "Kit," played by Lori Petti, or the sister, the catcher, "Dottie," played by Genna Davis. If you asked one of the old timers which one of them was Madonna, they will all raise their hand. Characters in the movie do resemble real life personages, but it is difficult to try and associate real life individuals to fictional movie characters. One item of note would be the third base coach who was an actual player in the AAGPBL. You will have to check the movie credits to determine who played the part.

As the league progressed, the rules, dimesions of the diamonds, and ball sizes also changed. The women did play baseball and they did play in skirts. They did have chaperons and were required to take etiquette classes. All this was necessary to yield the image of the "All-American Girl" so desired by Phillip K. Wrigley. At one point in the league the AAGPBL drew more fans than their Major League counterparts, which is a testament to its social acceptance.

The women had a very heavy schedule and most of their time was spent being bussed from city to city. Evening entertainment was often confined to a game of cards in their hotel rooms as most teams enforced a strict curfew.

Most of the players were in their early twenties, but a few were still in their teens, and some were as young as 15 years old. Although the players were characters, only an occasional exception would do anything ever as "flashy" on the diamonds as what the movie showed. They all played excellent baseball, and most were extremely proud of their abilities.

What were the reasons the league had to fold?

The league's demise after the 1954 season was multi-facited and included changes which occurred within the league over time, and changes which occured in the social milieu in which it existed. 

One of the primary policy changes which affected the league's demise was a severe reduction in its publicity and promotion budget to save money, which became less available in the early 1950s due to a growing recession.  Philip Wrigley, and later, his advertising agent, Arthur Meyerhof, who took the league over from Wrigley, appreciated the value of publicizing and promoting  the league locally and nationally and made it a priority.  However, the Independent Team Owners, who took control of the league at the end of the 1950 season, and  who owned smaller businesses, cut the league's publicity and promotional budgets severely.  They didn't seem to appreciate that publicity and promotion should have been the last things reduced in the league budget.  Where would Major League Baseball be today without the publicity and promotional efforts that are put into it?

A second internal factor which led to the league's decline involved a change in the league's position on equalized competition.  Under Wrigley and Meyerhoff, players were under contract to the league, not to individual teams.  At the beginning of each season, teams kept a core of players and the rest were allocated to teams with the intent of equalizing the talent among teams.  Wrigley and Meyerhoff knew from experience with Major League Baseball, that teams without the potential for winning the championship would fail.  When the Independent Team Owners bought Meyerhoff out, the centralized player procurement program was abandoned. Accordingly, team owners were more concerned about obtaining the best players for their team than for being concerned that  the best players were allocated  equally to all teams.  Instead, their concern for their team's success over-shadowed their concern for the league's success until 1954 when the die had been cast.

Another primary change within the league's structure which contributed to its decline  included changing the field dimensions beyond the capacity of the existing talent pool, which was softball. During the 1930s, '40s, and '50s, there was a large talent pool of softball players throughout the U.S. and Canada, and this was the talent pool from which Wrigley drew the best players he could find to establish the league.  However,  In the late 1940s and early 1950s, not all good softball players had the strength or skill to adapt easily to the league's evolution to longer basepaths and overhand pitching.  Thus, procuring players for the AAGPBL became increasingly difficult with each change in the dimensions of the field.  It also became increasingly difficult to find players who had the strength and accuracy to pitch overhand.   

In addition to the preceding, in 1951, the Independent Team Owners changed the player procurement procedure to a team rather than a league responsibility.  As a result,  each team's scouting and player procurement program was limited.  Here again, this was among the last items that should have been limited.  The larger fields and overhand pitching demanded scouting and player procurement on a continent-wide basis to find the caliber of women athletes the game had come to demand. 

There is also some conjecture, which is difficult to document, that reduced emphasis on femininity in the 1950s, which had been a hallmark of league publicity in the 1940s, contributed to a reduction in the league's social acceptance. 

An external factor that affected the league's decline was that the business men who supported teams during the war benefitted from extra discretionary income from converting their business from consumer production to war production.  When the war ended, their discretionary income to put into their teams dwindled with each passing season.

In addition, because of war travel restricitons, AAGPBL teams were a primary recreational activity/spectator sport in league cities.  When the war ended and travel options improved, other recreational pursuits became more available to league city residents.

Another external factor which contributed to the league's demise included the advent of television in the late 1940s.  It meant that folks could stay home on AAGPBL game nights and weekends and watch their favorite Major League teams play.  Television also adversely affected men's minor league teams in the 1950s.  Those that survived had Major League teams to subsidze them.  The AAGPBL, sometimes equated with AA minor league ball, had no parent organization to provide financial backing. 

The recession that occurred between 1949 and 1954 reduced everyone's discretionary income--team owners and fans alike, so gate receipts suffered.  Given this, combined with the factors listed above, it's a tribute to the league, which had become part of the culture of the cities in which it operated, that it didn't fold sooner. 

If one factor had to be identified which led to the league's decline, changes in administrators' financial resources from WW II war production back toproducing consumer products, coupled with changes in the external economy, would have to be cited as that one factor.  However, there were other discrepancies between the league's internal policies and external social conditions that contributed to the league's demise.  Thus, the best explanation for the league's extinction seems to be to consider all of these factors together rather than separately. 

Are there any other professional women's teams playing today?

No, there are currently no women's professional baseball league playing  in the United States. There are, however, many women playing baseball in the United States and other countries. The USA International Team participates in a World Series Tournament annually and holds try-outs around the country in search of the best players the U.S.

Since the release of "A League of Their Own" in 1992, there have been several  attempts to provide an opportunity for women to play baseball professionally again.

In 1994, the Colorado Silver Bullets were a United States professional baseball team comprised of select women from across North America. They did not play in any women's league but instead toured the United States as a promotional team for a Colorado based brewing company. They often played against "Double A" mens professional baseball teams. The team disbanded after 1997 and ended an entertaining brand of ball in North America.

Ladies League Baseball started in 1997 and consisted of four teams: the San Jose Spitfire, Long Beach Aces, Phoenix Peppers, and the Los Angeles Legends. In 1998 the league changed it's name to the Ladies Professional Baseball League and expanded eastward adding teams in Buffalo NY, and Augusta NJ, and the  Los Angeles franchise was moved to Homestead, FL.

The expanded league intended to play a 56 game schedule starting in July 1998 and ending in September. However, low attendance, escalating insurance costs, and high stadium rents forced the owners to abbreviate the first half, playing only sixteen games and canceling the second half of the regular season.

Where can I obtain memorabilia items from the league?

The All-American Girls Professional Baseball League Players Association have several  types of items which are produced from authentic memorabilia which are sold currently only at our annual reunions.  Items that are for sale at reunons are generally tee shirts, sweat shirts, shorts, sweat pants, caps, mugs, photos, balls, baseball cards and other smaller items.

We also have items for  sale by approved retailers who are  associated with the AAGPBL-PA . Some  companies  produce reproductions of our uniforms, caps, mugs, baseball cards and other various items.  These authorized distributors are listed in our League Approved Merchandise section . You can purchase items from these merchants by contacting them directly.

Currently, this website does not sell or offer estimates of value on memorabilia..

 

Where can I find additional information about the AAGPBL?

At this time there are not many sites on the World Wide Web that provide detailed information about the AAGPBL or women in baseball in general. The "Bibliography" section of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League web site lists Books, Documentaries, Publications, etc.. You will also find links to outside sources on our "Baseball Links" page. Any of these sources can provide a good starting point to gathering additional resource material on the subject of the AAGPBL

How can I find out if my relative or friend played in the League?

You can check the player's list on this website.  If that person is not listed, she probably did not play in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.  The identity of these players has been established by either  copies of contracts with the league, photo identity in uniform, team photos, personally known by players now living, or press clippings showing their participation in a League game. 

In order to prove that an individual played in the AAGPBL, you must be able to furnish the Players Association one of the above to substantiate any claim to having played in the AAGPBL.  If you have such proof, please contact us .

May I copy photos from your website to use in my report

You may copy anything from the website (one copy) for your personal use. The same thing applies to obtaining photos from our Archives. All information on the website is for your personal use for educational purposes.

Everything on the AAGPBL website is copyright protected. That means you can not reproduce it to distribute for FREE or sell anything containing information from our website, including photos. You may make a copy for a report, but may not distribute your report to others, unless copies are required for contest purposes.

Where can I find photos for a school report for my presentation?

You can purchase photos from our Archives for your personal use, which includes to complete a report.

You may not re-distribute the photos or copies for any other purpose or sell your work without written permission from the copyright owner of the photo being used.

You may also contact the Baseball Hall of Fame, Cooperstown NY, for AAGPBL personal player information or photos at:

http://baseballhall.org.

Another source for AAGPBL personal player information and photos is Northern Indiana Center for History in South Bend, IN: 

http://www.centerforhistory.org/contact.html.

Have any of the players written books about the league?

Mary Pratt, Partricia Brown, Dorothy Roark, and Rosemary Stevenson have all written books about their experiences in the AAGPBL. The books written by these players have been self-published and my or may not be available on-line. through  Amazon.com.  Carolyn Trombe  has also written a biography on player Dottie Wiltse Collins.

Check the FAQ section under Bibliography References to obtain additional information.


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