loading background

Grand Rapids in 1856

Scene of early Grand Rapids viewed from the...

loading media...
Grand Rapids Chicks

Grand Rapids Chicks

GRHC - March 24th, 2010

Glance at the Past celebrates Women's History Month with the colorful history of the GR baseball Chicks.



Although some Grand Rapids women played baseball in the nineteenth century, not until the late 1940s did a professional women's team thrill local fans. Baseball executives started the All American Girls Professional Baseball League when it seemed President Franklin Roosevelt might cancel the 1944 major league season as not essential to the war effort. The major league season did in fact continue, but women's baseball had been launched. The Chicks moved to Grand Rapids from their first home in Milwaukee, where they had won the league championship in 1944, and they prospered here until the league succumbed in 1954 to television, competition from other sports, and bad management.

The Grand Rapids Chicks Collection in the Grand Rapids Public Library includes baseball trading cards for the women players, a number of who were interviewed for the Hollywood movie “A League of Their Own." Women training to play baseball dealt with more than their male colleagues. Besides attending compulsory charm school classes, they were forced to play in short, flashy skirts that hardly protected them when sliding into base.

Over the ten years of the league's existence, women's rules evolved to match regulation baseball. Balls shrank from softball to baseball size, the pitcher's mound and base paths were lengthened, and pitchers started throwing overhand. The Chicks played the game and local fans in Grand Rapids responded enthusiastically. Once, a crowd of 10,000 turned out for a championship game. Always a strong team, the Grand Rapids women won league championships in 1947 and 1953 and made the playoffs every year of their existence.   


Full Details

TitleGrand Rapids Chicks
KeywordsGlance at the Past, Women's history, baseball, radio, WYCE, Grand Rapids, Historical Commission,Podcast
Pubdate StringMarch 24th, 2010

Like Us on Facebook
site by GRCMC