Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Dirt in the Skirt

Ernie Capadino: Mmm-hmm. They'll pay you 75 dollars a week.
Kit Keller: We only make 30 at the dairy.
Ernie Capadino: Well then, this would be more, wouldn't it?

Lavonne Paire Davis passed away this week at 88. She was 19, and a welder in a shipyard in 1944 when she was recruited to play professional baseball in the All American Girls Professional Baseball League. She played the better part of ten seasons, and served as consultant, and template, for the 1992 movie A League of Their Own. Fictional lead character Dottie Hinson (played by Geena Davis) was inspired in large part by her experience.

In the great scheme of professional athletics an asterisk? The league stood up during "the war years" because so many male baseball players had entered military service. Major league baseball didn't suspend play and, eventually, the women's game faded into history.

The movie itself spawned several memorable lines, chief among them Jimmie Dugan's "no crying in baseball." My favorite:

Ira Lowenstein: This is what it's going to be like in the factories, too, I suppose, isn't it? "The men are back, Rosie, turn in your rivets." We told them it was their patriotic duty to get out of the kitchen and go to work; and now, when the men come back, we'll send them back to the kitchen.
Walter Harvey: What should we do - send the boys returning from WAR back to the kitchen?
A fitting moment for the question of the day, still unevenly answered in the twenty-first century. My daughter was barely two when she announced she wanted to be a helicopter pilot in the military. I began to explain to her that there weren't all that many places (then) for women helicopter pilots and.... Shame on me. When she announced her intention to become a lawyer I could only cheer. 
"Pepper" Davis played professional baseball for ten years. She remarked that the league had largely been forgotten before the movie was released.
Shame on us.

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