Wednesday, May 15, 2019

On This Day - the Chicks Start Spring Training

Today, we continue our "On This Day" review of the Milwaukee Chicks' championship year. It was exactly seventy-five years ago, on this day in 1944, that the women of the All-American Girls Professional Ball League, as it was then known, started their Spring Training in Peru, Illinois.

To us, a small town one hundred miles west-southwest of Chicago may seem a strange place to hold Spring Training. But this was the 1940s, and there was a war on. Wartime travel restrictions constrained all levels of baseball to some degree; the Brewers themselves were forced to relocate their Spring Training camp from Ocala, Florida to Waukesha, just twenty miles from Borchert Field itself.

The AAGPBL held one combined training camp for all six teams: the four originals returning for a second season, and two newcomers representing Milwaukee and Minneapolis. This was how the Milwaukee Journal covered the start of camp:

Girl Players Start Training

Assemble at Peru, Ill.

Journal Special Correspondence

Peru, Ill.—Max Carey, manager of the Milwaukee team in the All-American Girls' Ball League, and the circuit's five other pilots arrived at Peru, Ill., Sunday to direct the league's 10 day spring training grind which started Monday. Heading the league delegation were Ken Sells, president, and Jim Hamilton, vice-president and chief scout.

About 120 American and Canadian girls have signed contracts. At the close of the training period, 90 will be retained and divided into six teams to represent Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Racine, Kenosha, South Bend, and Rockford. The pennant race is scheduled to open May 27, with Milwaukee at home to South Bend at Borchert field.

Four of the six teams have carryover nicknames from the 1943 race. They are the Kenosha Comets, Racine Belles, South Bend Blue Sox and Rockford Peaches. The Milwaukee and Minneapolis teams have no nicknames as yet.
Ninety players divided by six teams yields a tidy fifteen players per squad. Time would tell which of those one hundred and twenty women would be sent to Milwaukee.

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