The Women's Baseball League

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Part 2: Beauties on the Diamond

One thing that was vastly different, however, was the glamor aspect. The players were chosen not only for their athletic ability but also for their physical appearance. Uniforms consisted of blouses and skirts, to emphasize the women's legs. (This lack of pants was especially troublesome to the fast players who liked to steal bases, since in order to steal they would normally slide on their legs, which in this case were bare.) Players were sent to Charm School, so they could look nice and act nice, on and off the field. Helena Rubenstein's Beauty Salon provided daily practice sessions in etiquette and personal hygiene. Each team's roster included a (female) chaperone, who enforced the league's high moral standards and rules of conduct.

When the women weren't displaying their fierce playing ability, they were visiting army camps and veterans' hospitals, appearing in advertisements for beauty products, and working hard to maintain their image as the "Girl Next Door" who had some athletic talent as well.

While male American baseball players were involved in the war effort, the members of the AAGPBL were lighting it up at home. Nearly 200,000 fans attended games during the first season, in 1943. Two years later, total attendance topped 450,000. The all-time high attendance for a season came in 1948, when 910,000 fans paid to watch women play pro baseball.

However, now that the war was over and male players were back on their own diamonds, attendance at women's games dwindled. The league carried on until 1954 before disbanding.

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David White