“Belles of the Ballpark: Revisiting the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League” by Diana Star Helmer with Thomas S. Owens
Baseball, history, professional, women
May 4, 2015
4 of 5 stars (very good)
Born out of an idea from Chicago Cubs owner P.K. Wrigley, the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League started play in 1943 and lasted for 11 seasons, giving women the opportunity to play professional baseball. There was a movie made in 1992 about the league, “A League of Their Own” and it revitalized interest in the only all-female professional baseball league.
This book was originally published in 1990, before the movie was released in 1992. New stories from various players have been added to this updated edition along with additional information about the wing in the Baseball Hall of Fame on women in baseball and information gleaned from a new generation of fans of the league who never saw a game because they are too young, but their writing and travels keeps the memory of the league alive.
The foreword, usually a section that I skip when beginning a book, grabbed my attention. It was an interview with former Major League player Casey Candaele who talked about his mother’s baseball skills and experiences playing in the AAGPBL. From there Helmer will take the reader on a journey through the league from the viewpoint of the players. The stories will read a lot like those in books about the men’s leagues because these women went through the same travels, games, hotel stays and curfews.
There is no one aspect that is described in great detail in this book. Instead it is more of an overview of the years the league was in existence, again through the eyes of the players as they are the sources of information in this book. As a result, this was a very entertaining read that will be mostly humorous and happy, but with some melancholy thoughts as well.
If the reader has only heard about this league by seeing the movie, he or she will discover that while the movie had the basic story down, there is much more to the experiences of the players than the movie had. Even the author and a few interviewees state that there is so much more to learn about the AAGPBL than from the movie. I agree with that statement, and because the book does not delve into great details, I was left wanting to know even more information. In that sense, the book was a slight letdown, but if the goal of the writer was to leave the reader wanting more, than it served its purpose.
I wish to thank Summer Game Books for providing a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
Pace of the book:
Very good as the chapters are not too long, the topics are compact and the stories are written in a manner that are easy to read.
Do I recommend?
Any reader interested in the history of this league will appreciate this well-written and informative book.