An interview with Sue Macy, author of the baseball book A Whole New Ball Game: The Story of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, on this episode of the Cover the Bases podcast.
Sue transformed a fortuitous discovery into a larger research project, which turned into the writing of this book, which ultimately developed into life long relationship with the League. The discovery was made in the early 1980’s and came to fruition with the publishing of A Whole New Ballgame in 1993. Sue’s discovery coincided with the women from the League reaching out across the country in an attempt to locate some of the 600 former players. A common trait that Sue witnessed when she finally got to meet some of these players is a pure love of the game, most often instilled by fathers and brothers.
Women’s professional baseball was played during the 1940’s and 1950’s as part of the war effort. Concern over the possibility that President Roosevelt might suspend play of the major leagues, inspired P.K. Wrigley and Branch Rickey in particular to initiate the formation of the League. They were instrumental in developing the teams (including financing), recruiting players and placing teams in cities across the midwest.
The largest number of teams during one season was ten, including the Chicago Colleens, Fort Wayne Daisies, Grand Rapid Chicks, Kenosha Comets, Muskegon Lassies, Peoria Redwings, Racine Belles (below), Rockford Peaches, South Bend Blue Sox, and Springfield Sallies.
Local support was a key element to the success of the teams in these cities and towns. Baseball was a way for townspeople to find entertainment and to have a distraction from some of the hardships of war such as rationing, hard work and sacrifice.
As factors changed in the country after the war, the strong governing body that helped run the League dissipated, as teams were sold to local ownership. Sue is concerned that based upon these same practices, the WNBA might come to the same demise as history repeats itself.
Some famous names that Sue mentions include Annabelle (Lee) Harmon aunt of Bill Lee (a patron saint here at Baseballisms). Helen Callaghan, whose son Casey Candaele went on to play in the major leagues for ten seasons. Sophie Kurys who once stole 201 bases in 1946, and Betty Trezza who knocked in the winning run of the 1946 Championship Game.
Jean Faut pitched two perfect games, a feat no one accomplished in the League after overhand pitching was installed in 1948. Finally, the only player who appeared in all 12 years of the League’s existence Dottie Schroeder.
This is a book that represents how we feel about the game here at Baseballisms. It is a story about pure love of baseball, a story about how baseball had a direct impact on the lives of players and fans alike, a story of the homefront during World War II, a story that has a long lasting impact and leaves a legacy that can be shared by generations to come.
Follow this link to get a copy of A Whole New Ball Game: The Story of All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. At $5.99 this book makes a great gift for a budding baseball fan in the family.
We express our gratitude to Sue Macy for taking the time to appear on Cover the Bases with us, and look forward to keeping up with her other titles and publications at her web site.
Let us know in the comments what you think about the Cover the Bases podcast. We would love to hear from you. Send a Tweet to @baseballisms with a quick message, send us an email or visit our Upload page with a video message. We look forward to growing a community of fans interested in the poetry of the game of baseball!
If you like listening to Cover the Bases, podcast interviews with baseball writers, you might enjoy becoming a member of Audible.com where you can choose from over 60,000 audio titles for download. Baseballisms.com has an arrangement with Audible for a Gold Membership at only $7.49 for your first 3 months. For details go to Baseballisms.com/go/audible.