cover image When Women Played Hardball

When Women Played Hardball

Susan E. Johnson / Author, Larry Johnson / Author Seal Press (

For Johnson, a sociology professor, 1950 was a banner year, marking the summer when the 10-year-old Midwest native became a fan of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. The league lasted only 11 years (1943-1954), but interest in it was recently revived by the film A League of Their Own . Johnson warmly recalls her own days in the stands and convincingly portrays the importance of the league to young female fans, who often became ``Coke girls'' to their favorite players, meeting them after every game with a can of soda. Her history alternates excerpts from interviews with 26 of the women who played for the Rockford Peaches and the Fort Wayne Daisies in 1950 with newspaper accounts of that year's championship series between the two teams. Many of the players' recollections have a certain sameness, but the author's enthusiasm for her subject keeps them fresh. Former Peaches catcher Marilyn Jones contends that management insisted on the women being feminine because fans ``wanted to see a bunch of girls that acted like girls, and looked like girls and played like boys.'' Several players were shocked to learn that they were expected to play in skirts and attend ``charm school'' to learn how to be more graceful; one woman claims ``I learned how to be graceful by playing ball out in the pasture, side-steppin' all the cowpies!'' (Apr.)