"Line Drives and Lipstick" slides into the Park City Museum
November 9, 2012
When Penny Marshall’s film "A League of Their Own," a fictionalized account about the real-life All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL) in the early-to-mid-1940s, was released in 1992, it introduced many people to a portion of the little-known history of women’s baseball.
But the movie only told part of the story, because women have been playing baseball since the mid-1800s.
When "Line Drives and Lipstick: The Untold Story of Women’s Baseball" opens at the Park City Museum’s Tozier Gallery today, Nov. 10, the Park City public will get an history lesson about women in baseball.
The traveling exhibit, which will run through Jan. 7, 2013, shows the plight of women within the sport, said Courtney Titus, curator of collections and exhibits at the Park City Museum.
"Baseball for women has been a struggle since the beginning," Titus said. "The game was a way for immigrants to become Americanized, and really helped them to become accepted into the American culture. But for two groups African Americans and women acceptance into the sport wasn’t so easy. In fact, even today, women are still having a hard time being taken seriously when it comes to playing baseball."
The exhibit is arranged chronologically.
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"Legend has it that the game was invented in 1839 by Abner Doubleday, but the first set of rules wasn’t written by Alexander Cartwright, who most historians call the Father of Modern Baseball, until 1845," Titus said. "The first women’s team was founded in Vassar College in 1866, and once they had a team, other colleges began organizing women’s teams as well."
Still, in the early days, women were expected to act and dress like "ladies" even though they were playing ball, Titus said.
"So, in the exhibit, you will see photos of them wearing skirts, because that was what was acceptable for women at the time," she said. "Interestingly enough, the tops of the uniforms weren’t an issue. The women were able to wear shirts that were fairly comparable to what the men wore, but it was the bottom part of the uniform."
The women athletes wore long skirts in the first few years of the game.
"You can imagine how difficult it was to play baseball in that type of uniform," Titus said.
That was solved when Amelia Bloomer introduced bloomers and women ball players began wearing them.
"The shoes were a bit more suited to the sport, but the bloomers helped, because they still looked ladylike," Titus said.
The Park City Museum was able to rent "Line Drives and Lipstick: The Untold Story of Women’s Baseball," which was curated by John Kovach of Saint Mary’s College in Indiana.
"Saint Mary’s was one of the colleges that had one of the first women’s baseball teams in the country," Titus said. "We were able to get the exhibit through ExhibitsUSA, and they are always good to work with."
ExhibitsUSA creates "access to an array of arts and humanities experiences, nurture the understanding of diverse cultures and art forms, and encourage the expanding depth and breadth of cultural life in local communities," according to its mission statement.
There are 48 framed images and 15 objects in the exhibit.
"We have nearly all of them on display," Titus said.
The history of women’s baseball even has a tie to Park City.
Although not officially a baseball team, the town had a women’s softball team, sponsored by the Orange Blossom Confectionary, Titus said.
"This exhibit touches on softball, which was originally known as indoor baseball," she explained. "From the 1930s, it has been more acceptable for women to play softball, but it has been a struggle for our society to accept women’s baseball, and this exhibit, touches on that and gives examples from as recently as 2006.
"Today, girls are allowed to play Little League, but they are not encouraged to do so and no one advertises that," she said.
Titus said she enjoyed learning about the early days of baseball through this exhibit.
"Like a lot of people, I was introduced to women’s role in the sport through the movie ‘A League of Their Own,’" she said. "The movie kind of raised people’s awareness of women in baseball about what was going on and helped revive interest in women’s baseball, but that’s all I knew. So to have the complete history here, I learned a lot of things that I didn’t know."
To celebrate the exhibit, the Park City Museum will feature locals’ free admission days on Friday, Nov. 16, and Thursday, Dec. 6.
It will also present lectures: the first, by Dee Dee Corradini, president of Women’s Ski Jumping-USA, will take place on Thursday, Nov. 29, from 5:30 p.m. until 6:30 p.m.
"While she is not involved with baseball, we are doing a program about women in sports," Titus said.
"Line Drives and Lipstick: The Untold Story of Women’s Baseball," a traveling exhibit, will open at the Park City Museum, 528 Main St., on Saturday, Nov. 10, and will run through Monday, Jan, 7, 2013. For more information, call (435) 649-7457 or visit http://www.parkcityhistory.org.