Peoria, Illinois: 1948.
Unbound. A collection consisting of 25 black and white double weight gelatin silver photographs. Of the 25 images, 22 of them are signed by the players while they were still in the league. Additionally there are 12 printed player biographies clipped from a yearbook, and an additional 12 player biographies clipped from a newspaper. Most photos measure 4½” x 3½”, six are larger. Most items very good, most of the bios show evidence of their removal from a scrapbook.
The All-American Girls Baseball League (now known as the AAGPBL or All-American Girls Professional Baseball League) existed from 1943 to 1954. It was the brainchild of a committee started by Chicago Cubs owner Philip K. Wrigley to make up for attendance losses due to the departure of many male Major League players serving in World War II. The committee recommended a girls' softball league, which morphed into a hybrid of softball and baseball. With semi-pro women's softball leagues finding some success, the group scoured the United States and Canada, ultimately recruiting 280 young women to a try out in Chicago, with 60 originally chosen for the new professional league. Girls as young as 15 agreed to have no other employment during the season and most were paid more than their parents earned in skilled jobs. During spring training, the women were required to attend charm school, with each player receiving a beauty kit.
These photos and biographies show at least 13 different women from the 1948 Peoria Redwings. It was the league's best year of attendance with 910,000 present to watch games between the 10 teams. Each woman is shown in one or two team issued photos with either a biography clipped from the Redwings' yearbook or what we suspect to be from the local newspaper (many of the women are represented with both bios). The team boasted the Roth twins, Elaine and Eilaine (that's not a typo), Faye Dancer and Gloria Ruiz. Dancer, was the first AAGPBL player to hit two home runs in a game and was inducted into the National Women's Baseball Hall of Fame in 2002. Ruiz was one of seven Cuban women to play in the AAGPBL.
Signed photos of the women of more recent vintage are fairly common; period signatures, especially on team issued photos, appear to be quite scarce.
A fine group documenting a short-lived experiment in women's professional sports.