A new documentary, "The Girls in the Band," features women of the 1930s who, prevented from joining all-male bands, formed their own groups and toured the country. Discrimination by male musicians gave them a new adventure. But traveling through the South was something they want to forget, says a trumpeter with one of these bands.
At a time when women who wanted a solid career were restricted largely to teaching, nursing, and library work, those who desired something different, like playing in their own band or playing professional baseball, were considered ridiculous, or at the very least "shocking."
Yet even in the 1890s women on dozens of "Bloomer Girl" teams were traveling thousands of miles in a season to play for money against any team they could challenge. By the 1920s they were giving up bloomers in favor of wearing regular baseball uniforms.
Kate Becker ran the Boston Bloomer Girls and imposed strict rules: no fighting, curfew was 10 p.m., and lights were out at 11. Women could have dates only with players of opposing teams or with townspeople in the places they played. The Boston Bloomer Girls traveled by train, bus, horse, mule, or cheap car. Fans might come to games expecting to laugh, but they stayed to discover that the women played well, about the same as male minor-leaguers.
Most people have no idea women have been playing baseball long enough (150 years) and well enough (have you read the exploits of Jackie Mitchell?) to develop good players.
That's why I'm writing a new book called Who Ever Heard of a Girls' Baseball Club? The title is a quotation from a book written in the early 20th century by someone who obviously never heard of such a club, despite the playing he could have seen all over the country.
The book is for Young Adults (high school age and up), but it can be read by anyone unfamiliar with women's and girls' baseball.
Have you ever seen women play baseball? Don't knock it until you have.