Thursday, June 20, 2019

On This Day: Signing the Cast

On this day in 1944, the Milwaukee Chicks of the All-American Girls Professional Ball League were featured in the pages of the Milwaukee Journal. Not for their prowess on the diamond, but for the results of their customary hard play.

Despite playing in short skirts designed more to show off their legs than protect them, the women of the AAGPBL by all accounts ran hard on the basepaths. "Strawberries", their name for the road-rash bruise-slash-scrapes with dirt ground in, were commonplace. But sometimes, the fierce baserunning resulted in greater injuries. As when Chicks first baseman Dolores Klosowski broke her right leg sliding into a base.

The Journal found a pleasant way of showcasing the injury, with Klosowski sitting on the edge of the Borchert Field dugout, surrounded by teammates signing her cast. I'm grateful today that the Journal's sports editor featured so many photos of the players, but I can't help but notice how many of them have that slumber-party vibe. The tightrope these women had to walk, being not only mere athletes but also beacons of Good Clean American (young) Womanhood.

The Schnits autograph the case on the broken leg of their teammate, Dolores Klosowski, Detroit, Mich. The Milwaukee infielder in the All-American Girls' Professional Ball league fractured her leg recently sliding into a base. Left to right are shown Doris Tetzlaff, third base; Clara Cook, pitcher; Midd Klosowski; Vicki Panos, outfielder; and Pat Keagle, shortstop. The Schnits are home for a 21 game stand through July 4.
—Journal Photo
The pleasant newspaper spin shouldn't downplay the seriousness of her injury; her leg never properly healed and it cut her career cruelly short. Klosowski sat for the rest of the season, and when she came back the following spring she had reinvented herself as a pitcher. She appeared in 19 games for the South Bend Blue Sox in 1945, but retired after the season ended.

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