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FanFest: Women players discuss role in baseball history

July 10, 2010 |  2:31 pm
Women in baseball

When asked which baseball player Madonna's character in the 1992 movie "A League of Their Own" was based on, Jeneane Lesko, Maybelle Blair and Gene Travis all raised their hands.

The three women, members of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL), which existed from 1943 to 1954, spoke to fans Saturday about their experiences as female baseball players. The history section of FanFest also includes several displays about the role women have played in the sport.

Lesko and Blair, both pitchers, said they grew up around baseball and had the full support of their families when they decided to join the professional league. However, Travis, who played first base and outfield, said her father was very set against the idea.

"The only time my father thought it was OK for me to go away to play ball was when I signed a contract for $85 a week and he was making $62.50," she said.

The women said they had all seen the movie, but Blair offered some inside information.

"The ball was a tennis ball wrapped in horse hide," she said. The actors "couldn't play a lick."

Travis said she didn't realize the significance of the AAGPBL until the women were inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1988.

"I don't think we were aware that we were trailblazers," she said. "We were doing what we loved to do, which was play ball." 

-- Laura Myers 

Photo: The girls' baseball league uniform display at FanFest. Credit: DeAntae Prince