Cieradkowski: Stella Friss, Babe Ruth in bloomers

From SABR member Gary Cieradkowski at Studio Gary C on May 10, 2018:

Over the years many women ballplayers were given the title of “the female Babe Ruth”, but Stella Friss may be the only one that came close to living up to it.

Beginning just before 1900, all-girl traveling baseball teams were a popular draw in both the cities and small towns of America. The first woman to gain nation recognition was Alta Weiss. A pitcher with exceptional talent, Weiss’s appearance at Cleveland’s League Park in 1907 drew over 3,000 fans. She earned enough money in outsider baseball to put herself through medical school.

Capitalizing on the success of Alta Weiss, several different all-girl outfits sprung up, most of them using the name ‘Bloomer Girls’ for the baggy pantaloons worn by the women on the field. The best Bloomer Girls outfits usually fielded seven women augmented by two men who did the pitching and catching. Some of the lower-budget Bloomer Girl clubs consisted of all men dressed in drag, which, when discovered sometimes led to fans demanding their money back.

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Originally published: May 10, 2018. Last Updated: May 10, 2018.