Just because: 'Female Base Ball Contest!'

By Dayn Perry | Baseball Writer

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Courtesy of MLB's official historian, the great John Thorn, comes this, which is a 19th-century advertisement, both quaint and arresting in its assumptions, for a "Female Base Ball Contest" ...

Combatants: The Female Red Stockings of New York and the Female Blue Stockings of Philadelphia.

At stake: The Championship of the United States.

Also starring: Female curve pitchers.

Pleasing corollary: Open-air exercise for ladies.

In the summer of eighteen hundred and seventy-nine, this was apparently a barnstorming kind of thing, at least in the Northeast. Here, for instance, is a brief note in the July 8, 1879 edition of the New Brunswick (N.J.) Daily Times ...

Sounds familiar!

Of course, here's a downer of an addendum from Mr. Thorn's Facebook page on the subject at hand:

Plenty of "female base ball clubs" from 1870 to 1880. This particular club had a disastrous appearance in New Haven, CT on July 14, 1879, as they were driven from the field and stoned on their way out. On August 1, the Lowell Daily Citizen and News reported that the clubs were headed for Manchester but I have no account of this particular game. There are plenty of news accounts of this club, its manager, and his nefarious dealings with its players.

Some things of the past are worth disinterring and bringing back to life -- like spelling "baseball" as "base ball." Other things -- like throwing rocks at women who dare partake in "open-air exercise" -- much less so.

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