FEMALE PLAYERS HONORED AT COOPERSTOWN

By , Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

At the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., a permanent "Women in Baseball" display honors the All-American Girls Baseball League.

The exhibit was established in 1988 when a banquet was held for more than 150 former players, coaches, and managers.

Several of the miniskirt uniforms worn by the women of pro baseball are on display along with pictures of the all-star players. The names of all 450 players in the league from 1943 to 1954 are displayed on a plaque.

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A line-up of six balls illustrates the league's evolution from softball to baseball.

Mary Pratt, a pitcher with the Rockford, Ill., Peaches and the Kenosha, Wis., Comets, remembers the years of transition in the league. She played from 1943 to 1947. "It really was a unique game in the beginning," Ms. Pratt says. As time passed, the league's rules became more and more similar to men's baseball.

In the early years, underhanded pitching was required. Sidearm pitching began in 1945, Pratt recalls. In 1947, overhanded pitching took over.

The Cooperstown display has helped educate the public about the little-known All-American Girls Baseball League. But when the movie "A League of Their Own," which is based on the league, shows in theaters nationwide next month, many people will be learning for the first time that women and professional baseball aren't strangers.

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