Impact of women in baseball highlighted in Reds HOF exhibit

March 8th, 2023
The ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Women in Baseball exhibit (Cincinnati Reds)

A new exhibit celebrating the contributions of women and girls to the game of baseball opened last month at the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum presented by Dinsmore, just in time to be a featured attraction during Women’s History Month in March.

The Dinsmore Women in Baseball Exhibit presented by Rosie Reds explores the multi-faceted impact women and girls have made and are making to America’s National Pastime as players, fans, broadcasters, writers, coaches, managers, owners and executives. The exhibit dives into the many obstacles that women and girls have overcome and still struggle against to be a part of the game they love, and highlights many of the groundbreaking individuals, achievements and events that serve as inspiration to all those striving to make a dream come true. Conceived and curated by baseball historian John Kovach, the exhibit features over 200 artifacts on display and includes a film shown in the Jeff Wyler Family Hall of Fame Theater.

The Hall’s mission has always been to celebrate greatness, preserve history and provide inspiration. Women in Baseball hits all those marks as the sport recognizes their contributions on International Women's Day.

“When you look at this sophisticated exhibit, which really does make you think, we wanted to enlighten and inspire, and also inform and educate,” said Rick Walls, executive director of the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum. “But just as much, we wanted to excite visitors and get them thinking about the possibilities. Because the more you understand about the past, the more you get a feel for where we are with today’s game and where the game is going in the future.”

The Hall of Fame boasts nine permanent galleries and unveils a new featured exhibit each year on the first floor. Some years are no-brainers if there are major anniversaries to celebrate or new milestone moments to commemorate. In other years, the task for Hall of Fame staff becomes more challenging as they look for fresh ideas that will be interesting to visitors while sharing relevance to both Reds baseball and general baseball history. Recent exhibits included the Negro Leagues in 2020 and most recently ¡Los Rojos! in 2022.

Once the topic for this year’s exhibit was decided, the real work began to take shape. Chief curator Chris Eckes and his assistant Jim Farmer worked diligently to fine-tune the scope of the project. They collaborated with Kovach to ensure all 200-plus artifacts were represented and that the story came together as intended.

“With Women in Baseball, this was an area we just hadn’t ventured into that seemed relevant to the current times,” Walls said. “What’s nice about this exhibit is we’re learning things that we didn’t know about baseball. It’s about the game and how it has evolved into what we call America’s pastime. But I think what’s called into question sometimes, is why is it called America’s pastime. Women in Baseball provides some of those answers.”

A section of the Women in Baseball exhibit at the Reds Hall of Fame (Cincinnati Reds)

As with all its exhibits, the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum was not alone in its efforts to bring Women in Baseball to the public. Since 1964, the Rosie Reds, a philanthropic and social organization, have had enthusiasm and dedication not only to the Cincinnati Reds but to local baseball and softball communities. ROSIE stands for “Rooters Organized to Stimulate Interest and Enthusiasm” in the Cincinnati Reds. The Rosie Reds hold events, trips, raffles and receive donations to fund over $30,000 each year in support of local baseball and softball communities. There was a natural fit when it came to teaming up on Women in Baseball.

“We are fortunate to have a great relationship with the Hall of Fame,” Rosie Reds president Sara Matthews said. “They helped create a display to honor our 50th Anniversary. We also became a Legacy Champions donor when they underwent their renovation, and we have a permanent display case in the Reds Timeline gallery. Thus, broadening the reach to include Women in Baseball was an easy choice. It’s the perfect exhibit for our Hall of Fame to showcase and one we are thrilled to be a part of.”

Another unique element of this year’s exhibit was the female influence from a design perspective. Members of the in-house Reds Creative Services team work hard on the rotating exhibits every winter, and this year, senior design manager Sara Green and graphic designer Caitlin Schulte were tasked with bringing the Hall of Fame’s visions for Women in Baseball to life.

The process began with extensive research, followed by highlighting key ideas and topics that felt the most important to showcase in the exhibit’s prominent design elements. Green and Schulte created a mood board to visually capture all these elements in one place, which enabled them to begin incorporating their research and ideas into the overall look of the exhibit.

One of the biggest decisions was coming up with a logo that encapsulated everything Women in Baseball was about. Schulte experimented with a number of options and had several meetings with Hall of Fame staff before settling on the final product, which features a balanced combination of past and present.

“To represent the past, I replicated the way baseball teams have historically treated their logos with a cursive, handwritten look and a swash underneath the letterforms,” she said. “This treatment gives it a handmade, detailed quality that lends itself to the way women used to handmake their own baseball uniforms. And to represent the present, the letters are clean, streamlined and smooth, contrasting with sharp edges which gives it a modern feel. The solid red drop shadow also gives it a contemporary look, while representing how women in baseball had to be bold because they were doing something that was not considered to be ‘normal’ or ‘culturally in line’ with their role as women at the time.”

As for the subject matter, Schulte and Green learned more than they ever imagined -- a common theme for anyone who has experienced Women in Baseball since it opened. Absorbing all the content during the early stages of planning helped shape the final product that fans will see when touring the exhibit.

A display on the film "A League of Their Own" in the Women in Baseball exhibit (Cincinnati Reds)

“When I first heard about the Women In Baseball exhibit, I thought, like I’m sure many others do, about the movie 'A League of Their Own,' but it’s so much more than that,” Green said. “Our goal when we started this process was to educate the audience with a broad understanding of women’s roles in baseball and their struggles throughout the game’s history while also showcasing female involvement now and possibilities to come. And I think the exhibit makes that evident through the visuals and artifacts shown.

“To be a woman working in baseball and be a part of telling this story from start to finish through creativity and design is an honor. The future is still unwritten for women in baseball and I look forward to helping continue that narrative.”

The exhibit will remain open for the entirety of 2023. With school groups, camps, families, and baseball fans alike visiting the Hall of Fame and Museum each year, thousands of girls and women of all ages will have the opportunity to see themselves represented in the game of baseball like never before.

“When you walk in the room, you see all the images on the wall, large pictures of females playing baseball going back to the 1860s when the Red Stockings were becoming America’s first professional baseball team,” Walls said. “I think girls are going to come in here and say, ‘Whoa, what’s that?’ And that’s what it’s all about, seeing and understanding that they can be whatever they want to be and not what they’ve been told they should be. The door is wide open now and people are understanding that baseball is better when more people all involved.”

Plan your trip to the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum presented by Dinsmore today at