It was 75 years ago Wednesday when South Bend’s all-female baseball team played their first game at Playland Park, between South Bend and Mishawaka.
The South Bend Blue Sox was one of the four original teams in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, which inspired the movie “A League of Their Own.”
The team originally played at Bendix Field, but moved to the more centrally-located and better-equipped Playland Park in 1946. It was the team’s home field until the league disbanded in 1954.
“Women played here for the fun of playing baseball, and guess what? They got paid for it,” AAGPBL President Rick Chapman said at a dedication event on Wednesday. “That was really iconic in its day and it’s remarkable what they did, so it’s up to all of us and future generations to keep their legacy going.”
Playland Park doesn’t exist anymore – the site is now student housing for Indiana University South Bend. But, a new marker along Ironwood Drive commemorates the women who used to draw crowds to the historic grandstands.
“These markers are storytellers,” said Casey Pfeiffer, marker manager for the Indiana Historical Bureau. “They inform us and educate us about the people, places, events and organizations that helped shape the history of our state, and there’s no question that this marker for the Blue Sox is worthy of such recognition.”
Former Blue Sox Betsy “Sockum” Jochum, who turned 100 in February, and Coralyn “Corky” Carl were at the marker’s dedication on Wednesday.
Carl was a bat girl for the Blue Sox from 1945 to 1950, while she was in junior high and high school. She went on to be one of the first female swim coaches and athletic directors in the state of Minnesota.
She said the marker is an important reminder – not only of how far women have come in sports, but also of how far they still have to go.
“I mean, there are some missing things that women have to deal with just because we’re women,” Carl said. “It still has a ways to go.”
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