Mills: Women can be baseball stars, too

From SABR member Dorothy Seymour Mills at The National Pastime Museum on March 20, 2014:

When Americans speak of baseball stars, they are thinking only of men. But we have had women stars, too. And we’re still developing them.

Who are some of these stars? The name Babe Didrikson Zaharias comes up whenever superior athletes of the past are mentioned. She was named Woman Athlete of the Year six times. She broke Olympic records in several sports, won many gold medals and was elected to the National Women’s Sports Hall of Fame. Some experts believe her to be the best athlete, male or female, ever developed in our country.

Babe could do anything in sports and do it well. When she was concentrating on baseball, she traveled with a professional team called the Babe Didrikson All-Stars. Once she pitched in an exhibition game for a big league team against another. If Didrikson had been allowed to sign with a major league team, she would have been a great baseball player.

Children have been baseball stars, too. One was Margaret Gisolo, a teen-ager who starred in American Legion baseball during the 1920s. She was the only girl on her club and its best player. While the team was advancing toward the state championship, nobody objected to her presence. But in the semifinal series, when she scored the winning run in the 12th inning, the losing team protested, claiming that the result didn’t count because girls weren’t allowed in the American Legion. 

The Legion’s state director appealed not to the head of the Legion but to Baseball Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis. Together they decided that since Legion rules didn’t specifically ban girls, she should be allowed to play. So her team won the state championship, and Gisolo starred in every game. Although the team lost the national tournament, Margaret played so well that she earned praise from the New York Times.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: March 20, 2014. Last Updated: March 20, 2014.