Bouton: The not-so-private lives of baseball wives

From Chris Bouton at The Hardball Times on March 4, 2020:

Mrs. Joe Cronin. Mrs. Johnny Allen. Mrs. Dizzy Dean. Mrs. Walt Genin. Mrs. Babe Ruth. Mrs. James “Ripper” Collins. In the 1930s, their husbands ranged from some of the most popular players in the game to some of the most anonymous. These women were scions of baseball royalty and farming families. Regardless of where their husbands played, they all had the same role in America’s pastime — baseball wife. 

In private, they cleaned homes, raised children, and tended to the needs of the domestic sphere. They offered emotional support through the highs and lows of their husbands’ careers. 

In public eye, however, baseball wives played a variety of roles, defined and constrained by the gender roles of the 1930s. They had no separate identities apart from their husbands. On one hand, they were supportive spouses, bolstering their husbands’ confidence, and helping them navigate life in the major leagues. On the other, they were gossiping shrews who undermined pennant-winning teams; shrews who interfered in their husbands’ finances; or dimwits who couldn’t tell the difference between a bat and a ball.

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Originally published: March 5, 2020. Last Updated: March 5, 2020.