Disapproving scolds. Sexist condescension. Odd theories about the effect of exercise on reproductive organs. Though baseball began as a gender-neutral sport, girls and women of the nineteenth century faced many obstacles on their way to the diamond. Yet all-female nines took the field everywhere. Debra A. Shattuck pulls from newspaper accounts and hard-to-find club archives to reconstruct a forgotten era in baseball history. Her fascinating social history tracks women players who organized baseball clubs for their own enjoyment and found roster spots on men's teams. Entrepreneurs, meanwhile, packaged women's teams as entertainment, organizing leagues and barnstorming tours. If the women faced financial exploitation and indignities like playing against men in women's clothing, they and countless ballplayers like them nonetheless staked a claim to the nascent national pastime. Shattuck explores how the determination to take their turn at bat thrust female players into narratives of the women's rights movement and transformed perceptions of women's physical and mental capacity.
"This work fills a noteworthy gap in the scholarship and will be of importance to any individual interested in sport, women's history, and gender studies. Recommended."--Choice
"Shattuck sets out to discover how a gender-neutral game became so masculine by researching women's organized baseball from antebellum American through the turn of the century… This volume belongs in many public library sports-history and gender-studies collections."--Booklist
"It is safe to say that Bloomer Girls may be considered the definitive book on women's baseball in the nineteenth century. Shattuck's research shows on every page, and she masterfully decodes primary sources and constructs a satisfying answer for anyone who has ever wondered why baseball is a man's game."--Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society
"Bloomer Girls is definitely worth your time."--MLB.com
"Bloomer Girls would be a helpful resource for researchers interested in social history, particularly regarding gender roles and sports, and for baseball fans interested in the history of the sport."--FGS Forum
"Bloomer Girls: Women Baseball Pioneers fills a huge void in sports literature regarding women baseball players. . . . Shattuck’s book is definitely a must read for all baseball researchers, serious fans, those interested in the history of the game and gender historians."--Sport in American History