From SABR member Dorothy Seymour Mills at The National Pastime Museum on November 4, 2013:
Most people think the women of the All American Girls Professional Baseball League of the 1940s was the first and only opportunity for women to play professional baseball. Not true.
Women who loved baseball began turning professional almost as early as men. The club generally recognized as the first men’s all-professional team, the Cincinnati Red Stockings of 1869, came only a few years ahead of the women’s pro teams that organized themselves and traveled to various cities playing against each other or local teams of men or women.
Some women’s baseball clubs of the 1870s through the 1890s hired promoters to seek games with opponents and schedule them locally and in other cities. Sometimes two clubs would travel together and play each other.
A few women became stars in men’s professional ball. Lizzie Arlington began pitching in 1898 for the men’s minor league team in Reading, Pennsylvania. By the following year she had become a sensation. More than a thousand fans came to watch her pitch against Allentown in black stockings and a knee-length skirt. The club owner exploited her presence, sending her onto the field in a carriage drawn by two white horses. In the ninth inning with her team leading 5-0, the manager sent her into the game. She filled the bases with two out, then retired the side. The crowd shouted its approval, and a reporter grudgingly wrote, “She is a success,” but of course he added the common caveat, “for a woman.”
Read the full article here: http://www.thenationalpastimemuseum.com/article/women-and-men-together
Originally published: November 4, 2013. Last Updated: November 4, 2013.