Dan's Dugout: New Book Says Women Can Play Too • Latino Sports

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Dan’s Dugout: New Book Says Women Can Play Too

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Dan’s Note: The following material appears in The New Baseball Bible, my 424-page offbeat illustrated history published this spring by Sports Publishing. The hefty paperback, which contains more than 1,000 illustrations and 10,000 trivia items, is the book bargain of the year at $17.99.

Baseball BibleThe 1992 Geena Davis movie A League of Their Own called attention to the fact that women played baseball too. The league, founded in 1943 by Cubs owner P.K. Wrigley to draw new fans while most big-leaguers fought World War 2, lasted even after the war ended.

Dottie Schroeder was the only player who appeared in all 12 seasons of AAGPBL action. All but one of the teams in the All American Girls Professional Baseball League had male managers. The exception was the Kalamazoo Lassies, who hired Mary (Bonnie) Baker to finish the 1950 season after firing their original field pilot.

The Flash had nothing on Sophie Kurys. She stole 166 bases in a season and 1,114 in a career that lasted from 1943-52 – all while wearing the skirt mandated by the AAGPBL. Ouch!

Six actresses from the film played in a softball game during the second annual League of Their Own reunion sponsored by Davis in Bentonville, Arkansas in 2016.

Also in 2016, the Oakland A’s made Justine Siegal the first female coach in the big leagues. The one-time college coach threw batting practice for six major-league teams before Oakland hired her. Siegal, a graduate of the MLB Scout Development Program, also has a degree in sports psychology.

As the 2017 season opened, women were working as team and league officials, club owners, writers, broadcasters, and umpires.

Jennie Finch was a star pitcher in a family that included big-leaguer Casey Daigle

Jennie Finch was a star pitcher in a family that included big-leaguer Casey Daigle

Olympic softball star Jennie Finch even became the first female manager in professional baseball.

Married to former major-leaguer Casey Daigle, she was the best pitcher in the family. An Olympic gold medalist and celebrity softball star who once fanned Albert Pujols, she made history in 2016 when the Bridgeport Blue Fish of the independent Atlantic League hired her to manage a game against the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs on May 29.

No woman has duplicated the feat of Jackie Mitchell, a teenaged lefthanded pitcher. She was just 17 when she struck out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig in an exhibition game between the Chattanooga Lookouts and the New York Yankees on May 11, 1931. Although her effort attracted national attention, it also earned the enmity of Baseball Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis. He cancelled her contract, claiming that baseball was too difficult for female players.

Three years later, however, Babe Didrikson Zaharias pitched for several big-league teams during spring training. An all-around athlete whose best sports were golf and basketball, she also toured with the House of David barnstorming team.

Given a chance, Alta Weiss might have proven herself much more than “the Girl Wonder,” a title she received while playing with the Vermilion Independents. She even drew 3,182 curious fans to Cleveland’s League Park for an exhibition game on Oct. 2, 1907. Her father, a well-to-do doctor, bought the touring team and renamed it the Weiss All-Stars. Alta wore a black uniform while her teammates wore white. Alta Weiss retired in 1922 to become a physician herself.

Alta Weiss had her own All-Star team

Alta Weiss had her own All-Star team

Also in the book:

  • How Ronald Reagan used the baseball broadcast booth as a stepping stone to the White House
  • How the Dodgers (and all other teams) got their nicknames
  • Why Hank Aaron is the true home run king
  • Why Charlie Finley deserves a niche in the Hall of Fame
  • Who traded a home run king for a batting champion
  • What teams made a 17-player trade that impacted the World Series
  • What umpire worked exclusively behind home plate
  • When the Boston teams played in each other’s ballparks
  • What Hall of Famer had the same number of victories and base-hits
  • Photos from the Hall of Fame, Sporting News, and Library of Congress
  • Lists of 300-Game Winners, Lifetime and Single-Season Leaders, and Spring Training Sites

The New Baseball Bible is available from amazon.com and at all major booksellers.

About Dan Schlossberg

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has produced 35 baseball books, including autobiographies of Ron Blomberg, Al Clark, and Milo Hamilton. Also a broadcaster, he is the host and executive producer of Braves Banter and Travel Itch Radio and a contributor to Sirius XM.

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