The Kalamazoo Lassies are the defending All-American Girl's Professional Baseball League Champions. And they will be honored Friday night (July 16th) on what was once their home field, now known as Homer Stryker Field at Mayor's Riverfront Park.

Defending Champions

Okay, maybe that's a bit of local boastful pride, but since the Lassies were the final champions before the AAGPBL closed up shop in 1954, that, logically, makes them the defending champions.

The reason the Lassies are the topic of conversation is, this Friday night (7/16), the current tenants of the same ballpark - the boys of summer, if you will - the Kalamazoo Growlers will be wearing replica Kalamazoo Lassies jerseys, and afterwards those game-worn tops will be auctioned off to raise funds for women's empowerment programs at the Kalamazoo YWCA.

The Lassies would probably be an almost totally forgotten footnote in baseball history were it not for the 1991 movie "A League of Their Own", which gave us the classic line "there's no crying in baseball". But much more importantly, it brought the AAGPBL back into some prominence. The league was created during World War II to supplant the lack of baseball being played, because so many young men were off to war. Some of the ones who stayed back played in the major leagues, as rosters were cobbled together. Chicago Cubs owner Philip Wrigley and Brooklyn Dodgers president Branch Rickey created the AAGPBL to keep baseball in the spotlight in the Midwest. At its peak, in 1948, the league drew almost a million fans.

But it was more than just keeping baseball in the spotlight

“The Lassies were such an important part in women’s sport history. They were part of the first ever professional women’s team sport. The players didn’t realize the impact their story would have on the evolution of women’s sports. They broke the glass ceiling not only for sports but opening the door for women in the workplace. Thank you for paving the way for the future women athletes! I might not have had the chance to be an athlete at [Western Michigan University] without you blazing the trail.” - AAGPBL board member Carol Sheldon.

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