Tuesday, June 25, 2019

"Diamond Lassies", 1944

Like most papers, the Milwaukee Journal published expanded Sunday editions complete with photo sections. The Journal called theirs the "Roto Section", after rotogravure, a well-known photo printing process common at the time.

This amazing three=quarter page photo layout was published on the second page of the Journal's Roto Section on Sunday, June 25, 1944, seventy-five years ago today. It gives us both a team photo of the Milwaukee Chicks at Borchert Field and a behind-the-scenes look at the women of the All-American Girls Professional Ball League.

We start with a large team photo, the squad posing before the Borchert Field grandstand.

Diamond Lassies

The Yankees, when they pose for that "almost annual" series picture, never look more impressive as a baseball group than our Milwaukee "Schnitts." Here they are with their manager, Max Carey, former big league star. The "Schnitts," a member of the six-team All-American Girls' Professional Ball league, play their games at Borchert field when our Brewers are on the road.

Front row (left to right) are Thelma Eisen, 22, of Los Angeles, outfielder; Vivian Anderson, 23, 2417 N. 88th st., infielder; Dorothy Maguire, 25, of Cleveland, catcher; Betty Whiting, 18, of Ida, Mich., inflielder; (second row, same order) Lafern Price, 18, of Terre Haute, Ind., pitcher; Josephine Kabick, 22, of Detroit, pitcher; Olga Grant, 23, of Edmonton, Alta., outfielder; Mary Thompson, 22, of Greenville, S.C., pitcher; Shirley Schulze, 21, of Chicago, outfielder; (top) Mgr. Carey, Connie Wisniewski, 22, of Detroit, pitcher; Dolores Klosowski, 21, of Detroit, infielder; Emily Stevenson, 18, of Champaign, Ill., catcher; Alma Ziegler, 22, of Los Angeles, infielder, and Judy Dusanko, 22, of Regina, Alta., infielder. Another member of the team is Doris Tetzlaff, Watertown, Wis., an infielder.

—Journal Staff Photos by Robert Boyd
Also missing from the photo is right-handed pitcher Sylvia Wronski. On that Sunday Wronski was still five days away from making her first appearance in a Milwaukee uniform, having been farmed out to the suburban amateur leagues to start the season. It's likely that she hadn't yet been called up when this picture was taken.

Each of the teams in the league has a chaperone. Milwaukee's "house mother" is Dorothy Hunter (left) of Winnipeg, Man., who last year played with the Racine team. Here she rubs Viola Thompson's injured foot.
Viola Thompson was a left-handed hurler, a rookie in 1944. Her sister Fredda Acker, also a ballplayer, gained some notariety when she went to Spring Training with the South Bend Blue Sox while also the reigning Mrs. America.

Somehow can't avoid the notion that this particular photo was staged to show off Ms. Thompson's leg.

Borchert field old timers shake their heads at scenes like this. Never before has the Brewer dressing room had lipstick and fingernail polish for the players.
And modern-day human beings shake their heads at photo captions like this.

At least those three pictures give us a good view of the uniforms and ballpark facilities. The remaining photos are somewhat less interesting from that perspective, but do lend some insight into how the league was viewed by the public. Or at least by newspaper editors.

Charming is the word for women's baseball. Before the season opened, the teams trained together at Peru, Ill., and a representative of a Chicago charm school was on hand to give introductions. Off the diamond, Audrey Kissel of St. Louis, Mo., is a long haired beauty, but on, her tresses are in decorous braids styled by Francis McCune of the charm school, who is shown fixing the proper diamond hairdo for Audrey. The other pictures are of Louise Simpson of Charlotte, N.C.—on the diamond and off.
It's good that the Schnitts were given such coverage, even if some of it was patronizing. Two steps forward, one step back.

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