Today, the Miami Marlins (my hometown team!) announced they’d hired Kim Ng as their General Manager. It’s a BFD. Ng is the first woman to be hired as GM by a men’s major professional sports team. She’s also the first Asian-American to be hired as an MLB GM. Ng is almost OVERqualified for the position, having worked for major league clubs for over 30 years. She’s interviewed for GM positions more times than I can count and never gotten the job. Now, she finally has (the team’s COO is Caroline O’Connor, which means two of their three highest-ranking officals are women).
This seems like the perfect day to answer a question I recently received via Twitter DM. A follower of mine wrote, “I loved your article on the AAGPBL and its queer side. So, first of, congrats on your writing. Second, [the winter holidays are] coming and I was wondering if you had any book recommendations on the AAGPBL or women in baseball in general?”
OH BOY, DO I! Consider this my holiday gift guide.
If you’ve read any of my writing at all, you know that baseball—usually thought of as a men’s sport—is chock-full of incredible women throughout its history. Here’s a great thread with stories about them:
But there have even been books written about many of those women! Here are my recommendations; feel free to leave your own in the comments. And please, support your favorite local bookstore this holiday season! Don’t buy from Amazon if you can avoid it.
General women in baseball books
Bloomer Girls: Women Baseball Pioneers, Debra A. Shattuck
Women have been playing baseball since the game’s inception. In the 1880s, they played in full hoop skirts. Shattuck’s book takes readers through the early days of the women’s game.
Breaking into Baseball, Jean Hastings Ardell
I consider Ardell’s book to be the bible of women’s baseball. It covers women in the game from its inception until (mostly) present-day, from those aforementioned Bloomer Girls to the AAGPBL to the women who played in the Negro Leagues to the women in the ownership boxes and clubhouses and stands and behind the plate. This book covers a ton of ground.
Stolen Bases, Jennifer Ring
Have you ever wondered WHY American girls don’t play much baseball? Ring’s essential book has all the answers.
In Ring’s follow-up book, she gives the women of the U.S. Women’s National Baseball Team—what Ring calls “the best-kept secret in sports”—a chance to share their stories with the world in order to drive home the point (sorry) that the women’s game is not a thing of the past.
AAGPBL and Negro Leagues books
Girls of Summer, Lois Browne
One of the most comprehensive histories of the AAGPBL.
When Women Played Hardball, Susan E. Johnson
Another book that chronicles the league.
Exactly what it sounds like! A biography of Toni Stone, one of the three women who played in the Negro Leagues.
This book is full of interviews directly with the women who played in the AAGPBL.
I love this book. It’s full of beautiful illustrations and Anika lovingly interviewed many of the women who were still alive to talk. It published earlier this year. If you have a baseball lover in your life, may I recommend some of Anika’s prints as a gift, as well? She has a whole section of Women in Baseball prints featuring the women of the AAGPBL; “Lefty” Alvarez and the Cuban women who played in the league, Mamie “Peanut” Johnson, and Jackie Mitchell. She also sells work to benefit the Negro Leagues Museum in Kansas City.
Mamie on the Mound: A Woman in Baseball's Negro Leagues, Leah Henderson
This book is about Mamie “Peanut” Johnson, who was not allowed to play in the segregated AAGPBL but was one of the three women to play in the Negro Leagues.
Mighty Jackie: The Strike Out Queen, Marissa Moss
Tells the story of Jackie Mitchell, who was rumored to have struck out Babe Ruth.
There’s No Base Like Home, Jessica Mendoza and Alana Mendoza Dusan
Written by Jessica Mendoza, the first woman to be an MLB analyst on ESPN and the first woman to be a Sunday Night Baseball Broadcaster, and Mendoza’s sister.
Anybody’s Game, Heather Lang
This is my kids’ favorite book! We read it all the time. It’s about Kathryn Johnston, the first girl to play Little League baseball.
At 13, Mo’ne Davis became the first girl to record a win pitching in the Little League World Series. This is her story.
Baseball’s Leading Lady: Effa Manley and the Rise and Fall of the Negro Leagues, Andrea Williams (pre-order, coming January 5, 2021)
This book is not out yet but I am a huge fan of Andrea’s and personally cannot wait for it.
And while you’re here and we’re talking about women in baseball…
…this is a good opportunity to tell you that I just finished edits on another story about girls in the game, this time about girls playing baseball in Alaska. It will be running at the worker-owned quarterly Publication To Be Named Later and you can pre-order issue 1 (dropping soon) here. Something cool and exciting about issue 1 is that at least four of the writers and editors are queer and/or trans, which is basically unheard of in sports writing.