Baseball during World War Two continued to set many precedents for the country. In 1918, before the start of the World Series between the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs, a band played “The Star Spangled Banner” for the first time at a sporting event. “The Star Spangled Banner” would continue to be played occasionally during World Series Games or on opening day; “by World War II, powerful, sophisticated public address systems let the fans hear it sung by vocalists or performed on recordings. By the end of the war in 1945 it had become an accepted practice to have the national anthem performed before each game.” (Rader 171-72).

As previously mentioned, the history of America and the history of baseball are very similar. In World War Two (as in the first World War) women would fill the jobs that were vacated by the men who left to fight the war. In baseball, the same was the case. A women’s baseball league was formed in attempts to keep the nations spirits high during the war. Philip Wrigley, the owner of the Chicago Cubs and the chewing gum baron, decided to form a women’s league and have them play in major league ballparks. The league pitted four teams against each other in an 108 game season. The All-American Girls Professional Baseball League consisted of the Racine (Wisconsin) Belles, the Kenosha (Wisconsin) Belles, the Rockford (Illinois) Peaches, and the South Bend (Indiana) Blue Sox.

In 1944, two more teams were added to the league; the Milwaukee Chicks and the Minneapolis Millerettes. Despite the popularity of the newly formed AAGPBL, it had its critics. Many of the opponents to women’s baseball bestowed the nicknames of “Amazon” or “muscle molls” to the league’s players. To combat this problem, more often then not, “prospective players were turned away for being too uncouth, too hard-boiled, or too masculine.” (Dreifort; 213). Wrigley wanted to make sure that his league had some level of respect. Wrigley decided that the best course of action would be to send his players to a charm school. He also decided that each team should have chaperones to ensure the safety and respectability of its players. “The chaperones were combination policewomen, nurses, business managers, surrogate mothers and best friends for more than 500 girls and women who played in the AAGPBL during its 12-year existence.” (Dreifort; 212).
Women’s baseball was not lacking in terms of star power or “drawing power” (a term used to describe a sport’s ability to attract fans). “Just as men’s baseball had its Babe Ruths and Ty Cobbs, women’s baseball had its standouts as well; women like Jean Faut, who pitched her way to three pitching championships, hurling two perfect games in the process, and Joanne Weaver, who won three consecutive batting titles from 1952-1954, amassing a .429 average in 1954.” (Dreifort; 213). Sophie Kurys was able to steal two hundred and one bases during the 1946 season. She was caught stealing by opposing team’s catchers only twice the entire season. The AAGPBL hired coaches like Jimmy Foxx and Dave Bancroft (both legends in their prime) to manage the women’s teams.

Women’s baseball was successful for a number of years during World War Two. However, this success would not last. Once the soldiers returned home from the war, the decline of the AAGPBL was evident. Throughout America, women left their jobs to return to the home as soldiers returned to their old jobs. The same occurred in baseball; ballplayers returned from the war front and continued their careers, basically rendering women’s baseball obsolete.

Women were not the only ones attempting to change American society by playing baseball. Towards the end of the war, there was a push for major league teams to sign African Americans in order to bring down the unofficial color barrier that major league baseball was employing in its practices. In 1943, Bill Veeck, a pioneer in the game of baseball, decided that he wanted to purchase the Philadelphia Phillies and was going to stock the team’s farm teams with talented black players from the Negro Leagues. “Commissioner Landis quickly squelched Veeck by blocking the purchase. While repeatedly denying the existence of any rule against signing blacks, Landis had in fact consistently policed the color line.” (Rader; 165).

To be continued.