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'You Can't Play Ball in a Skirt': Program focuses on female baseball league

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    Lois Youngen, 85, played in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League from 1951 to 1954.

    PHOTO PROVIDED

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EATON TWP. — “There’s no crying in baseball” was the tagline from the hit movie “A League of Their Own,” released in 1992.

Now, 27 years later, the movie is the premise for Friends of the Grafton-Midview Public Library’s program “You Can’t Play Ball in a Skirt.” The program, co-hosted by Eden Valley Enterprises, will be July 16 at the Midview Middle School. Doors open at 6 p.m., with the program beginning at 6:30 p.m.

Together, the Friends of the Grafton-Midview Public Library and Eden Valley Enterprises will transport guests back to the early 1900s as Anne McEvoy portrays Alta Weiss, an Ohio girl who played men’s baseball in 1907. Weiss was from Ragersville in Tuscarawas County, and she played on the Vermilion Independent’s Men’s Team.

The night also will feature Lois Youngen, 85, who played in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League from 1951 to 1954. Youngen was one of 500 women who played in the first women’s professional baseball league. During her time on the team, Youngen was a catcher. The league, known as the “Lipstick League,” was created by Philip Wrigley, owner of the Chicago Cubs; operated from 1943 to 1955; and was the basis for the movie, “A League of Their Own.”

Friends of the Grafton-Midview Public Library secretary Brenda Jalowiec said she began researching women in baseball, and it caught her attention.

“The more I researched the subject, I felt that our community would love the program, particularly with its connection to Ohio women who played,” Jalowiec said.

In fact, Jalowiec’s mother was friends with Dorothy Maquire Chapman, who was one of the 60 original players with the All-American Girls Professional League. Maquire Chapman was born in LaGrange and lived most of her life in Spencer. She played baseball from 1943 to 1949.

But, when the league shut down in 1964, the story of women pitching, catching and swinging baseball bats seemed to get lost in history until 1987. It was then when All-American Girls Professional Baseball Association pushed for inclusion in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.

“There is now a permanent exhibit called ‘Women in Baseball’ at Cooperstown,” Jalowiec said. “As Lois Youngen says, ‘She always knew a woman’s place was at home … and at first, second and third.’”

Contact Melissa Linebrink at 329-7243 or mlinebrink@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter @MLinebrinkCT.
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