Exploratorium's Science of Baseball; The Girls of Summer
Now that we're in the last month of regularly scheduled baseball games, we decided to bring you to the San Francisco Exploratorium special exhibit on the Science of Baseball, and its subset, The Girls of Summer. Try to prepare for packing away sweatshirts, caps, pins and a mitt. It isn't easy for us hardcore baseball fans, particularly those who learned the sport at such stadiums as New York City's Polo Grounds and who recently had to give a fond farewell to the Giants' hero, Bobby Thomson.
Some of the introduction to the Girls of Summer follows from the well organized and interesting website:
Baseball is a game of history. It's almost impossible to listen to a game on the radio without being reminded of a record set 37 years ago, or a player whose deeds have never been equaled, whose name is remembered long after he's gone.
He. Most of the names and deeds and records in baseball have been set by men. It's largely considered a man's game. But what if you take a closer look at that history?
The first team of professional baseball players, the Cincinnati Red Stockings, took the field in 1869. They were all male — the first boys of summer. The first girls of summer, women who were paid to play baseball competed in their first game in 1875.
In the 1870s, an American woman could not vote. She could not own property in her own name after marriage. But she could play ball — as well as it could be played in an outfit that weighed as much as 30 pounds and included a floor-length skirt, underskirts, a long-sleeved, high-necked blouse, and high button shoes.
Amelia Bloomer designed and wore the loose-fitting, Turkish-style trousers that carried her name, and made sports more practical for women athletes. In the 1890s, scores of "Bloomer Girls" baseball teams were formed all over the country. (Eventually, many of them would abandon bloomers in favor of standard baseball uniforms.)
There was no league. Bloomer Girls teams rarely played each other, but "barnstormed" across America, challenging local town, semi-pro, and minor league men's teams to an afternoon on the diamond. And Bloomer Girls frequently won, playing good, solid competitive hardball. The teams were integrated when it came to gender; although most of the players were women, each roster had at least one male player. Future St. Louis superstar Rogers Hornsby got his start on a Bloomer Girls team.