From 1988-1992 I spent every day of the year researching the story of women who had played baseball in the 19th and 20th centuries, and as part of that research I ended up with 8,000 or so sheets of paper that I stored in files, which I stored in file-pockets, which I stored in my file cabinets. In 2016 I donated all of this material to the National Baseball Hall of Fame Library: you can read about it here.
But before I donated the research materials, I published some of them (the public-domain ones) as books — Research Notes for Women at Play, Volumes 1, 2, and 3. My reason for doing this was that I wanted to make these materials available to historians, to baseball researchers, and to teachers who needed primary source materials in order to teach the research paper.
My understanding of who might find the books useful was a bit too narrow. Since their publication I’ve heard from professors of journalism, who have used them to illustrate what sports reporting was like 100 years ago. I’ve heard from women’s studies professors who use the books to illustrate the differences between how women’s sports and men’s sports were reported. And (this was a surprise) I’ve even heard from people who study and teach about clothing styles.
I have shared my research notes with many different people, in many different ways, in many different places. But I’ve never shared them on my blog. So I thought, why not? Below are examples of my research notes from each of the three volumes.
All of the newspaper articles in Volume 1 were in the public domain, so I was able to quote them in their entirety.
From Research Notes for Women at Play, Volume 1
Cincinnati Enquirer, October 6, 1905
THE BLOOMER GIRLS
Easily Defeated the Cincinnati Stars
Yesterday — Score 12 To 7
Before a large crowd at the Cumminsville Ball Park, the Star Bloomer Girls defeated the Cincinnati Stars by the score of 12 to 7. The girls played as if their lives depended on winning the game and though they were up against one of the strongest amateur teams in the city they never showed the white feather, but kept working hard for victory.
On the other hand the gentleman ball team playing under the name of Cincinnati Stars, after making four runs in the first inning, got careless and the fair ones had the boys at their mercy. It was simply a case of follow-me, boys, as the Bloomer Girls forged ahead with four runs and added three more to their score before they left the field. Maud Neilson [sic] pitched the first four innings and the boys made four runs off her slants and shoots. She stated she was not feeling well before the game, having been on the road for the past two weeks and for that reason was not in the best of condition. But at that, if it had not been for two unfortunate errors by the right fielder, the boys would have made but one run off her delivery. McKenzie finished the game and pitched gilt-edged ball. Only three hits were made off his delivery in the next five innings and one of them was a fluke. The work of Miss Day at first was a revelation to the large crowd in attendance. No matter where the ball was thrown she would get it. Some of her pick-ups of low-thrown balls were remarkable. She also led her side in batting. Miss Grace, in right field, made a hit with the bleachers with her fast work on bases and was picked out by the bleacherites as “The Peach” of the bunch.
At second Miss Dolly got everything that came her way and figured in two double plays. The other girls did their share in helping to down the Cincinnati Stars. . . .
Only some of the newspaper articles in Volume 2 were in the public domain. Many of them were published after 1924, which meant that I could reprint only a small portion of each verbatim: I had to paraphrase most articles. This made my job more time-consuming.
From Research Notes for Women at Play, Volume 2
Port Arthur News, Port Arthur, Texas, March 12, 1933
Didrikson Says She
Can’t Accept Challenge
This is a three-paragraph article datelined Dallas, Texas, March 11. It reports that Babe Didrikson was advised that Jackie Mitchell challenged her “to face her on the mound in a baseball game this summer.”
According to the newspaper report, Babe replied that if she accepted every challenge, “I’d be busy every hour of the day and night filling engagements that really don’t mean anything.”
Although she refused the challenge, Babe did say that “if I ever happen . . . to be anywhere at the same time Jackie is there, I’ll let her see whether she can outpitch me and bet her that she can’t.”
Muscatine Journal and News Tribune, Muscatine, Iowa, November 15, 1933
Signed by Doan;
to Report Here
Famous Girl Hurler and Star
Cager and Cliff Walsh
Newest Additions to Club
Seven paragraphs in all, this article reports that sports promoter Ray L. Doan signed Jackie Mitchell “to join his Babe Didrikson’s All-Americans basketball quintet.”
The second paragraph reads: “Jackie was with Doan’s House of David baseball club last year and performed efficiently as a starting pitcher. She says she was chosen as an all-American forward in a girls’ independent basketball tournament at Dallas, Tex., three years ago. In that tournament she played against Miss Didrikson.”
The article concludes by stating that the entire squad signed by Doan will report to Muscatine for a ten-day training session.
As in Volume 2, so in Volume 3 most of the articles were not in the public domain, requiring me to quote judiciously and to paraphrase.
From Research Notes for Women at Play, Volume 3
Unknown Source, Unknown Town, Unknown Date, 1934
Gair Trimmed by Girlies,
But It Was All Jolly Fun
A reporter named Cal Royal wrote this long, two-column article.
In the first paragraph he informs readers that the Gairmen were runner-ups in the City League, but were defeated by the Chicago Ranger Girls, 2-1.
Royal describes the second inning at length, because it netted the Ranger Girls their two runs. Margaret Gisolo was thrown out and Elizabeth Pull walked, advancing to second on an error. Joe Fiarito walked. Cecelia Griedl struck out without swinging at a pitch. Nellie Kearns swatted the ball to second, where the Gair player, Gibbs, misplayed it. That left Kearns on first, Fiarito on second, Pull on third. Then catcher Frank Ranallo smashed a ball to right field (the only hit off Gair pitcher Locke), scoring two runs. Rose Gacioch flied out to Locke.
After the second inning, “only three hitters faced Locke an inning.”
The Gairmen scored their only run in the first inning. They might have scored two, but Rose Gacioch “relayed a throw to the shortstop who snapped it to the plate in time to get Eccleston for the third out.”
In the following innings the Gairmen collected five hits, including two doubles, but none advanced beyond second “as the Girls turned in as good a fielding exhibition as any men’s team could show.”
The next morning Manager Southard of the Gairmen announced that the Ranger Girls would return in two weeks, but that the exact date had not been decided.
According to the article Elizabeth Pull, who had been playing baseball for 23 years, was the manager of the Ranger Girls. The writer stated that the Ranger Girls played every day, seven days a week, and sometimes twice a day. The team, consisting of twelve women and three men, started out on May 10 and was expected to continue through September 20.
The box score indicates that the Rangers had only one hit (Ranallo’s in the second inning). Pull and Fiarito scored the two runs. The Gair team (called Robert Gair in the box score) collected six hits but scored only one run.
Research Notes for Women at Play, Volumes 1, 2, and 3 can be purchased in softcover or ebook format. The ebooks can be purchased as a set.