Calling all middle-school writers – this looks like a great opportunity!
October 19, 2011-Lois Youngen, president of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League Players Association (AAGPBL-PA), today announced a writers contest open to students in grades 6, 7, and 8 in the United States and Canada. The contest, “Batter Up!,” challenges students to write 500- to 750-word essays that explore the legacy of the AAGPBL. The Grand Prize is a trip for two to the 2012 AAGPBL reunion in Syracuse and Cooperstown, New York.
Youngen, who is a professor emeritus at the University of Oregon, made the announcement from San Diego, California, where the AAGPBL-PA is holding its 2011 reunion today through Sunday. “We want to encourage young people to reflect upon the legacy of our league,” said Youngen. “Many of our members became teachers after our playing days, so we know how curious and creative young people can be. We’re inviting them to do a little research about our league and to consider its impact.”
Specifically, students will be required to answer one of three questions:
1. Why was the AAGPBL important to the history of girls and women in the United States and Canada?
2. Why do you think it’s important that people remember the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League years from now?
3. Which All-American Girls Professional Baseball League player (living or dead) do you wish you could meet, and why?
All entries should be made electronically on an entry form available at a special section of the Players Association Web site: www.aagpbl.org/index.cfm/contest. The entry deadline is March 18, 2012, during Women’s History Month, and all winners will be contacted on or about May 30, 2012. The winners also will be announced on the Web site. Besides the Grand Prize Winner, who will attend the AAGPBL Players Association reunion from September 12-16, 2012, there will be four Runners-Up, each of whom will receive an AAGPBL prize pack with league memorabilia including a collectible baseball and bat signed by former players. Winners who list a sponsoring teacher on their entry forms also will win one or more age-appropriate books for that teacher’s classroom, along with a DVD of the film, A League of their Own. The essays of the Grand Prize Winner and the Runners-Up will be posted on the AAGPBL Web site at aagpbl.org/contest by fall 2012.
2012 will mark the 20th anniversary of the film, A League of Their Own, which brought the AAGPBL unprecedented public recognition almost 40 years after its demise. The league was started in 1943 by Chicago Cubs owner Philip K. Wrigley as a wartime contingency, in case the major leagues shut down for the duration of World War II. It thrived and survived through 1954, growing to encompass 10 teams and attracting almost one million fans during its peak year of 1948.
More than 600 young women from the United States and Canada made their mark in the AAGPBL, including pitching sensation Jean Faut, who threw two perfect games; first basewoman Dorothy Kamenshek, a slugger who was recruited by a men’s minor league team; and standout catcher Mary “Bonnie” Baker, who later stumped a panel trying to determine her career on the TV show, “What’s My Line.” Teams were centered in Midwestern cities in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, while rookie touring teams barnstormed across the Midwest, South, and East, playing in Yankee Stadium and Griffith Stadium.
After their time in the league, players went on to become teachers, mothers, business owners, coaches, doctors, physical therapists, even professional bowlers and golfers. Today some 150 players survive.