Let's Hear it for the Girls

While there is limited documentation about women playing baseball on the Eastern Shore, it is clear women also played the game. In the 1860s, women played on collegiate teams throughout the Northeast. However, public backlash put an end to these organized teams by the mid-1870s.

Beginning in the 1890s, teams of women players known as “Bloomer Girls” traveled the country taking on semi-pro, club, and collegiate men’s teams. Not all towns initially welcomed the idea of women playing baseball, but eventually Bloomer teams became popular and known for their talent. Playing baseball on a Bloomer team provided some level of fame, travel, and money for women in a time of limited opportunities.

There are several accounts of Bloomer Girl teams traveling to the Eastern Shore to play town teams. Bloomer teams usually included a few men known as “toppers” who donned wigs and dresses. An 1897 photograph of a woman’s baseball team in Princess Anne is likely a Bloomer Girl team, with a few “toppers.”

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Baseball Group - Princess Anne, September 1897, Nabb Center, Wilson Collection (1999.019.110)

The last of the Bloomer Girl teams disbanded in 1934, but these were not the last women to play baseball. During World War II, there was a shortage of male players, so Cubs owner Phillip Wrigley formed the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.

Accounts and photographs suggest that both white and black women’s teams sometimes played one another before the men’s teams took the field.

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Centreville Women’s team playing an exhibition game at Centreville Park during the 1940 season, Courtesy of Donnie Davidson

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Lady Umpires Advertisement, May 1, 1948 Salisbury Times

In 1948, complaining of a bad call from her umpire husband, Minnie Windsor and her friend Dot McWilliams of Sharptown decided they could do a better job and began umpiring games on the Eastern Shore.

Let's Hear it for the Girls