Meet 4 stars of Minnesota's 'League of Their Own' team, hounded out of the state by hostile media
The All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, formed as male ball players were being drafted into the military for World War II efforts, allowed more than 600 female players a chance to shine and get a paycheck to play their game on a national stage. It was immortalized in popular culture by the movie "A League of Their Own" and a new streaming show by the same name.
Minnesota was among the states encouraging women to step up to the plate in the 1940s, with its All-American Girls Professional Baseball League team producing notable female players that would have otherwise gone unnoticed.
The league, formed as male ball players were being drafted into the military for World War II efforts, allowed more than 600 female players a chance to shine and get a paycheck to play their game on a national stage.
The league was immortalized in popular culture by the movie "A League of Their Own" and a new streaming show by the same name.
The Minneapolis Millerettes didn’t enter the scene without controversy, though — rumors still swirl around the treatment the female players received. The crowds The Millerettes drew were quite small in comparison to their rival teams throughout the country.
Pointing the finger at a hostile press, The Millerettes spent most of their time on the road, sitting out the opportunity to hear their fans root for the hometeam, in favor of crowds that welcomed women on the diamond.
Eventually, the lack of local support contributed to the team moving in 1945 — just one year after their debut — to become the Fort Wayne Daisies. Despite the controversy, a few key players did stand out during their time representing Minnesota.
As the song goes, the league had Canadians, Irish and Swedes. Helen Callaghan fits nicely into the first category, hailing from Vancouver, British Columbia.
Helen Callaghan was a standout, not only on her own team, but throughout the league. The left-handed center fielder was a force at the plate, tying third in league homers and third in overall hits. She was also known for her wheels, contributing to 112 steals, ranking seventh in the league.
With Helen Callaghan in center field, she had a special connection to the infield — her sister, Marge Callaghan was the third baseman.
As it turned out, baseball ran in the family — her son, Casey Candaele went on to play professional baseball. He’s now a coach for the Toronto Blue Jays.
On July 29, 1944, dressed in her Minnesota uniform, Annabelle Lee stepped up to the mound and threw the first perfect game the All-American Girls Baseball League had seen.
Despite being known for her small stature, the left-handed pitcher was considered as a force on the mound and at the plate. The switch hitter with wheels was a reliable hitter and base runner.
She, like many other of the female players of her time, went on to mentor and encourage a younger generation of male players. Her nephew, Bill Lee, went on to pitch for the Boston Red Sox and Montreal Expos. He credits his aunt for teaching and encouraging him throughout his baseball career.
Faye Dancer, also known as "Tiger" and "All The Way Faye" was a dream of a player for organizers of the league. Known as incredibly talented and competent, she also had a knack for adding entertaining elements of flair to her game.
The native Californian made her way to Minnesota in 1944 to play for the Millerettes. Considering her ability to stun crowds, the lack of support for her home team meant Minnesotans missed out on her on-field antics and stunning outfield plays.
While Dancer was the inspiration for A League of Their Own's "All the Way Mae" character, Dancer herself received the name because of her all-out commitment on the field. According to the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, Dancer would do anything to make a play — she'd crash in to fences to catch a fly ball and, basically, do everything she could to win.
Dancer started out her professional baseball career in 1944 with Minnesota. She went on to play six total seasons.
Dorothy (Wiltse) Collins
Dorothy Collins was the queen of no-hitters.
The California native grew up around the game, with her father, who played semi-pro, bringing her up in baseball culture.
Starting out with Minnesota in 1944, Collins, who was also known as "Dottie," went on to play with a number of teams throughout the league, ending her professional career with 117 wins and 76 losses, according to the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.
In the midst of her baseball run, Collins sat out one season after the birth of her daughter. She eventually returned to play one more regular season with the All-American league before officially hanging up her cleats.