Updated 09/21/2012 07:23 PM
"A League of Their Own" inspiration reunion visits Hall of Fame
They revolutionized women's sports decades before Title IX and they remain as closely knit and dedicated nearly 60 years after they stopped playing. Our Andrew Sorensen caught up with the women of the All-American Girls' Professional Baseball League as their annual reunion rolled into Cooperstown Friday.
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COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- You may remember the Rockford Peaches from 1992 classic "A League of Their Own." But the ladies of the energetic bunch gracing Cooperstown Friday were the real Rockford Peaches and the players from the 15 different teams in the All-American Girls' Professional Baseball League.
"A scout saw me playing softball, like in the movie, and he says, 'Maybelle, how would you like to play professional baseball?' I said 'Aw, there isn't such a thing.' He says, 'Oh yes there is!'" recalled Peoria Redwings pitcher Maybelle Blair.
Even 58 years after the league shut down, these women are still quick at the bat for each other.
"Everybody that played in the league have remained friends and we get together and we see them once a year. I mean, this year it's here in Syracuse," said Mary Moore, who played second base for the Battle Creek Belles.
And when players like Blair or Moore come to Cooperstown, as the league did Friday, it's a special kind of validation. Their eleven year contribution to baseball from 1943 to 1954 is remembered in the Baseball Museum's Diamond Dreams exhibit.
"Oh gosh, it sort of reminds me of when we played, it brings back years, you know, about 60 years ago," Blair said.
Many of these women only played a couple of years in the All-American Girls' Professional Baseball League, but it made for a lifetime of change and not just for them.
"I was really appreciative of the path that they laid for all women to be able to play," Megan Cavanagh, actress from "A League of Their Own," said.
"It's opened the doors for all women, not only just little girls," said Blair.
Walking through the exhibit, they pointed out friends, teammates and the overall importance of their baseball careers. Their inclusion in the hall in 1988 and the expansions since have proven a source of great pride for women's sports.
"That's the biggest thing there is, for them to say, 'Yes, we'll put a display of you women in here,' that was great," said Moore.
That's a pride that continues, even as their membership grows smaller each year, because many players have made it their new goal to help out scholarship funds for young female athletes to continue on their own diamond dreams.
The All-American Girls' Professional Baseball League will play an exhibition game and sign autographs at 10 a.m. Saturday at Alliance Bank Stadium in Syracuse.