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Baseball History Resources: Women in Baseball

A quick overview of some prominent topics and helpful resources in the study of baseball history.

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Women’s place in the baseball realm has been greatly contested since its conception. Banned or discouraged in the wake of an 1890s riot, female participation experienced a resurgence in the late 1910s and 1920s. Although women played baseball prior to World War II, both casually and more professionally, the establishment of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League in 1943 brought female baseball players into the spotlight. Though female players faced and continue to face opposition, they have made themselves known on the field and the Hall of Fame alike.


Ardell, Jean Hastings and Borders, Ila. (2005). Breaking into Baseball: Women and the National Pastime. Southern Illinois University Press.

Sometimes tolerated but often excluded even from spectating, women have a long and tumultuous relationship with baseball. Ardell depicts the variety of roles women have held in baseball, as well as the contributing factors to their increasing role in the game. Often overshadowed or dismissed, Ardell details female umpires, players, and other roles held over the years.

Berlage, Gai. (1994) Women in baseball : the forgotten history. Praeger.

Another resource exploring the little-known history of women in baseball, Gai documents the extended history thereof. Female baseball players existed as early as the 1860s, and only continued greater involvement with the passage of time. Book ended between the start of baseball and the Supreme Court case which allowed girls in little league, Gai chronicles the ups and downs of professional and non-professional women’s baseball. 

Fidler, Merrie A. (2010). The origins and history of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. McFarland & Company.

A more exacting analysis of a women’s baseball league, started by Charles Wrigley during World War II. Wrigley, owner of the Chicago Cubs, saw an opening in the entertainment market after many of his male players enlisted in the ongoing war. Tracing the roots of women’s professional baseball in softball teams. With this foundation, Fidler reconstructs the organization of women’s baseball, from its players up to administration and governing rules from its conception to the 1980s.

Berlage, Gai. (2000). Transition of Women's Baseball: An Overview. NINE: A Journal of Baseball History and Culture 9(1), 72-81. doi:10.1353/nin.2001.0001.

Unlike many works on women’s baseball history, Gai uses this article to trace the roots of why women are often excluded from the sport. Introducing the heyday of women’s baseball prior to the 1930s and tracing its subsequent decline, Gai explores gender, society, and baseball itself. Far from a novelty, female players from all walks of life are introduced and analyzed as the author asks just what baseball means to the country.

Female Players

Lizzie Murphy Pitching a Baseball

Lizzie Murphy (1894 - 1964)

Jackie Mitchell Pitching a Baseball

Jackie Mitchell (1912 - 1987)

Edith Houghton bent over, hands on knees.

Edith Houghton (1912 - 2013)

Mamie Johnson reaching for a baseball in a catcher's mitt.

Mamie Johnson (1934 - 2017)

Side note

Although mentioned in a different page, the Baseball Hall of Fame is also very relevant to artifacts and information on some of the women who played baseball professionally.

Works Consulted

Lizzie Murphy. (2020, March 19). In Wikipedia.

Ardell, Jean Hastings and Borders, Ila. (2005). Breaking into Baseball: Women and the National Pastime. Southern Illinois University Press.

Landers, Chris. (2015, July 22). Four remarkable women from baseball history that everyone should know about: Four unsung women who helped shape baseball history. Cut 4.

National Women's History Museum. (2017, June 27). Jackie Mitchell and the Bloomer Girls: Baseball's Unsung Heroines.

Slotnik, Daniel E. (2017, December 20). Mamie Johnson, Trailblazer in the Negro Leagues, Dies at 82. The New York Times