The Hall of Fame not only acknowledges the accomplishments of Major League Baseball players, it also pays tribute to the women who played in The All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.
The AAGPBL lasted from 1943-54 and inspired the movie “A League Of Their Own,” which popularized the term, “Dirt in the skirt.”
In the YouTube Series called Hall of Fame Connections, produced by MLB Network and made possible by a grant from I LOVE NY/New York State’s Division of Tourism, The National Baseball Hall of Fame focuses on the AAGPBL and other accomplishments in Major League Baseball.
The series, driven by Camping World, looks at the Hall of Fame’s collection from a new and exciting angle, with each episode telling a different story of how two seemingly unrelated artifacts in the Museum’s vast collection connect to each other, crossing through generations of baseball history.
Each two-part episode features both a narrative storytelling element that weaves through the history of some of the Museum’s most iconic artifacts, and the Hall of Fame’s curators conversing about those artifacts and stories with MLB Network personality Carlos Peña, a former MLB All-Star, and sports journalist Lindsay Berra, Yogi’s granddaughter.
The series consists of 13 episodes, all available to stream for free through the Hall of Fame’s YouTube channel at youtube.com/baseballhall. New episodes will be released each Wednesday through September, and will also be featured across MLB Network’s studio programming.
The third episode, titled “Dirt in the Skirt to the Sandman” is available now.
Whenever a great play is made in baseball, the Baseball Hall of Fame makes sure it gets a piece of history. Here is what to look for in the third episode.
Dirt in the Skirt
On display at the Hall is a uniform belonging to Audrey Wagner, who played for the Kenosha Comets from 1943-49. Wagner wasn’t a slouch with the stick, winning a batting title in 1946. By playing in the league, Wagner put herself through college and later became a medical doctor.
Training in Cuba
The Dodgers trained in Cuba in 1947, because Jackie Robinson was on the roster. The year before, the team was dealing with racism in Florida because of Robinson’s presence. That was not the case in Cuba.
There wasn’t much fanfare when the Dodgers trained in Cuba. Later, of course, on April 15, 1947, was when Robinson became the first African American to break the color barrier and play in the Major Leagues, where his skill made him one of the best to play the game. He was a stellar defender and had dazzling speed and a bat that helped the Brooklyn Dodgers win six pennants and one World Series title during his 10 years in MLB.
His impact was felt right away, as evidenced by his 1947 National League Rookie of the Year Award and the '49 NL MVP Award just two years later. For his accomplishment in ’47, the Hall of Fame has a ball signed by Robinson on display in Cooperstown.
AAGPBL in Cuba
It was a different story when The All-American Girls Professional Baseball League trained in Cuba. There was a lot of fanfare, according to the Hall of Fame. The fans were amazed to see women play the game at such a high level. Mary Pratt, a left-hander for the Kenosha Comets, donated her suitcase she traveled with to Cuba to the Hall of Fame.
Mickey Mantle Card
Robinson played against Mickey Mantle four times in the World Series, with Mantle winning three of them. Not only was Mantle a Hall of Fame player, his 1952 Topps baseball card is extremely valuable. It’s worth seven figures according to the Hall of Fame, and there is one on display in Cooperstown.
Here’s to you, Zim
One of Robinson’s teammates in the 1950s was Don Zimmer, who became a baseball lifer. He did it all: Zimmer played 12 years in the big leagues and was a manager/coach/advisor for more than 40 years with teams such as the Red Sox, Cubs, Yankees and Rays, among others. His Brooklyn Dodgers uniform is currently hanging in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Zimmer was the bench coach for the Yankees from 1996-04, and he had the pleasure of watching Mariano Rivera display his Hall of Fame talent on the mound. Rivera had a career for the ages, saving a record-setting 652 games with a 2.21 ERA. After playing in his last All-Star Game in 2013, Rivera gave his All-Star cap to the Hall of Fame. Five years after his career ended, Rivera became the first player to be unanimously voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.