Players who inspired ‘A League of Their Own’ meet metro fans

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- If you know anything about the history of baseball, you might remember there was time when women played. Some of the original players were in Kansas City meeting fans Saturday, some 75 years after their first game.

Two-dozen women who played for the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League greeted fans at the Westin Crown Center. The same hands that once swung bats and balls were now signing them.

A League of Their Own brought the history of professional women’s baseball to the big screen in 1992. It’s still drawing a fanbase. The women were some of the 600-plus who filled in the national pastime gap when men in the major leagues went to war.

Rick Chapman is the president of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League Players Association. His mother played baseball.

“It was the early part of the war where they were the entertainment. People couldn’t go anywhere but they would go to the ballpark, so they became very popular,” he said.

They teams travelled and played around Lake Michigan and the Midwest.

“We played 115 games a season, and we played every day with double headers on Sundays and holidays. No days off!” player Betsy Jochum said.

“When they got the league together and got some really good quality women baseball players, they found out that they could contribute to society in the name of baseball,” Champan said.

The women still hold a captive audience, but it’s not just about remembering the past.

“Women can play baseball. They did in the past and they can do it now, they can do it in the future. So the goal is to get hopefully another league going of women baseball,” Chapman said.