Skirts, Dirt and Diamonds: The All-American Girls Professional Baseball League
With the onset of World War II, many minor league baseball franchises found themselves at a crossroads. Losing many of their players to military service, minor league teams began to feel the pinch and many went under. Philip K. Wrigley, the chewing gum mogul and owner of the Chicago Cubs, created the All-American Girls Softball League in 1943 to bring in the crowds and to help these franchises stay afloat. The league eventually became the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL) and was the inspiration for the 1992 hit movie A League of Their Own.
Three of the stars of the AAGPBL were Jean Faut, Lib Mahon, and Sue Kidd. Jean Faut starred as a pitcher for the South Bend Blue Sox in the league from 1946 to 1953. She was twice the recipient of the Player of the Year award and her 1.23 ERA was the lowest in league history. She was also the only pitcher to throw two perfect games during her career. She also lead her team to two League championships. Elizabeth ‘Lib’ Mahon is a Winthrop graduate (Class of 1942) and played in the league from 1944 to1952. Lib was a gifted outfielder who was known for her hitting prowess and her speed. In 1946 the two-time all-star stole 114 bases in 116 attempts. Sue Kidd was a star pitcher and occasional First Baseman who played from 1950-1954. Kidd threw a no-hitter while on tour with the Springfield Sallies proving her salt and later helped pitch the South Bend Blue Sox to Playoff Championships in 1951 and 1952.
The October Exhibit commemorates their accomplishments as three of the star players in AAGPBL as well as documents the history of the League. The exhibit is comprised of photographs and memorabilia from the Jean Faut Papers, the Lib Mahon Papers and the Sue Kidd Papers housed in the Louise Pettus Archives and Special Collections. The exhibit will run from October 3 through October 30. For the month of October the Archives will be open from 8:00 am to 7:30 pm on Mondays (except October 14-Fall Break); and 8:00 am to 5:00 pm Tuesday through Friday. For more information on the exhibit, the Jean Faut Papers, Lib Mahon Papers, or Sue Kidd Papers, please contact the Archives at (803) 323-2334 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Archives is also sponsoring a lecture on October 21 at 6:30 pm in the Archives titled “Skirts, Dirt, and Diamonds: The Rock Hill Connection” by Bob Gorman. This presentation will cover the history of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League and will focus on the two players with connections to Rock Hill: Elizabeth “Lib” Mahon, graduate of Winthrop and Jean Faut, long time Rock Hill resident. These two teammates are representative of the more than 500 pioneering women who broke barriers to play the game they loved, paving the way toward greater freedom of choice for the generations of women who followed.
Bob Gorman, head of Dacus Library’s reference department, is a noted baseball historian, having published numerous articles and two books on the history of the game. “The South Bend Blue Sox: A History of the Team and Its Players, 1943-1954,” co-authored with Dr. Jim Sargent, was released by McFarland Publishers in 2012. His first book, “Death at the Ballpark,” received the 2009 Sporting News-SABR Baseball Research Award.