History and Origins of Women’s Baseball: Part 2

While the 1920s marked the time when women had to play baseball indoors, one of the most prominent institutions has played a major role in baseball’s female uniforms. Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, introduced baseball to its campus around 1915. The year after baseball started in Carleton, there were already four baseball teams. Each of the teams was representing a class from freshmen to senior. In 1922, the women’s baseball program was established at Carleton College. However, this was not the only thing the college was famous for.

Because the female practice time outdoors considered to be distracting for male players, the sport was moved indoors, but women did not have to play the game indoors all the time. Historians have found references to baseball practices outdoors as well. It was also typical for the female baseball teams at Carleton College to play intramural games. Intramural meant that teams from the same university or college get to play against each other on the territory of their home university. The intercollegiate play was off the table for some time for the female teams.

too much competition was unhealthy for girls

It was believed that participating in the intercollegiate plays was ill-advised for young females. The records showed that some male individuals in charge believed that “too much competition was unhealthy for girls” and traveling to other states or universities was not suitable for “health and morality of young women.” While this might have been a small setback for the female baseball teams, they were able to bring a major change in the sportswear required for women. In 1922, at Carleton College women were playing in “bloomers”, rather than long dresses with long sleeves. Bloomers were loose-fitting trousers young women got to wear while playing baseball. Such clothing allowed girls more freedom of movement during the game.

As a result of new clothing for female baseball teams, some of them were called “Bloomer Girls”, as they traveled from state to state playing against amateur teams, minor leagues, or even semi-professional teams. The bloomer teams oftentimes had two or more men as members. The Bloomer Girls came from Chicago, Boston, Canada, and other locations to play games in Minnesota communities. Such teams were a rare occasion since they were early women’s baseball teams, and most people viewed them as a novelty act. Nevertheless, female baseball was developing its own identity, which was important in the long term.

Even when the female baseball teams were trying to make a name for themselves on the field, they were not taken seriously due to the prejudice towards females in sports. The female baseball teams were never perceived the same as male teams. Gradually, more and more teams emerged, despite the reaction from the public. As with anything new, it is always difficult to start and be accepted immediately. With a lot of setbacks, the female baseball teams paved their way in the American sports arena facing many challenges. Eventually they received recognition, and female baseball brought many wonderful female players who were known for their excellent skills in the game.

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