A League of Their Own Prompts Charm School For Major League Ballplayers

Remember the movie, “A League of Their Own?” It starred Tom Hanks, Gina Davis, Madonna, and Rosie O’Donnell and was directed by Penny Marshall? Great movie – a fictionalized depiction of the real life saga of the women who played in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL).

This league was founded by Philip K. Wrigley in 1943. With America’s entry into WWII, a professional league with women players served to keep baseball in the public eye, while the majority of men were away at war. Over 600 women played in the league until 1954.

Wednesday night I attended the Trib Nation showing of the movie to a packed house at the Music Box Theater, along with a discussion afterward and clips of an interview with Penny Marshall. Michael Phillips and Steve Rosenbloom from the Tribune moderated. It was a great venue and I was intrigued by the history of these feisty women ballplayers.

So now, I am thinking, as I look at the current dismal standings of our illustrious Cubbies and ditto the Sox - both in dead last place in their division. Accordingly, interest in baseball in Chicago is at a bottom of the toilet bowl low.

But, thankfully, I have a solution: Send all the current loser players home already – meaning now. Why prolong the agony?

They have had their 2013 chance and they are going nowhere and they are boring us to death.

After seeing the movie – my light bulb moment – ta dah: Let’s bring on the Girls. Throw a Ladies League together, and just like the gals of the AAPGBL of yesteryear who replaced the players off to war, a new Girls League could bring some fresh excitement and fun to the game…keep the interest alive and replace the tired, defeated group that we are shaking our heads at day after day. And the obvious key fact here is: The Girls couldn't possibly play much worse.

Did you know that in the early years, as part of their training , the girls were required to attend a charm school? It was taught by Madame Helena Rubenstein, a world renowned authority on beauty, health, glamour and physical perfection. Proper etiquette for every situation was taught, plus all aspects of personal hygiene, manners, and dress both on and off the field. The movie depicted the girls learning how to sit properly, and have their hair and makeup done to perfection.

Just think if there was a charm school for today’s MLB players. Lots of room for improvement there.

As you know, (not all but some) are chubby, paunchy players that are huffing around the bases, have some of the worst facial hair scruffiness and greasy heads abound. Yuk.

And God only knows what kinds of body sounds are regularly emitted from the dugout and locker room. Just guessing.

A charm school would slim them down, teach them proper grooming, manners and how to avoid itching, adjusting or grabbing their crotch at will. It would stop spitting ad nauseam (can you believe that chewing tobacco is not banned in the Major Leagues?) Hardly charming.

The Ladies were not allowed to have short hair or drink or smoke in public places. Now maybe they broke those rules on occasion in their off-time – but first they had to get past the eagle eye of their chaperon. Yes, they actually had chaperons.

Now, another reason for promoting a Women's League. My guess is that the Girls would not demand the insanely and undeserved mega salaries of the current bunch of egocentric players.

What were the Girls of yesteryear paid, one might wonder. Their salaries ranged from around $45 - $85 a week. Now, converted to “today’s dollars” they were actually paid very well (for women)at the time. Later, their salaries would be equivalent to from around $600 to a little over $1000 per week in 2013 dollars.

Yankee superstar Alex Rodriguez made $28 MILLION DOLLARS in 2013.

Oh, and speaking of Alex…there is a famous line in the movie where Tom Hanks, playing the team manager/lush yells at one of the cutesy blond players for screwing up a play and she starts to cry (you know men have been known to argue that women are too emotional, have hormonal mood swings due to their period and often cry).

So, the Tom Hanks character starts screaming: “THERE’S NO CRYING IN BASEBALL!” And he repeats it over and over, louder and louder.

With some MLB guys that line might be substituted with:


Bring on the new Girls League.

One of the original players in the AAPGBL, Therese (Terry) McKinley was in the audience at the Music Box. She related how when she got the call that she made the team, she quit her job that day and was ready to play.

See…no weeks and months of agent negotiation and high drama demands. We could have the Girls Team ready by Labor Day.

My mind is racing – have to get The Ricketts on board ASAP.

Just then, My Sports Guy walks in the room. He is a die-hard, totally devoted life- long Cubs Fan, and every year faithfully hangs on until there is absolutely no mathematical possibility for his team to clinch something. But lately, I have seen his enthusiasm waning. Duh.

So, I ask, “Honey, would you like to see an All Girl Team replace the Cubs for a while?"

He gives me the look that means he thinks I am talking out of my head.

I continue, “The girls would all be kinda pretty, well groomed, wear short skirts and be fantastic players.”

After a long pause, he replies, “Yeah, sure, why not? They couldn't play any worse.”

I rest my case.

Note to the Baseball Powers That Be: You’re welcome. Now, get it going. I like the team name “Cubbettes”.

This post is dedicated to all the ladies of the AAGPBL and especially Philomena Gianfrancisco (nicknamed Frisco), who played in the league from 1945-1948. She was interviewed when the movie was being made, but passed away before it hit the screen. She was the dear aunt of one of my best friends, and is honored in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. I would have loved to have seen Frisco play.

Philomena Gianfrancisco

Philomena Gianfrancisco

Read my other brilliant ideas for the Cubs in "Enhancing The Wrigley Field Experience...


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