TIME Sports

Meet the Real Women Who Inspired A League of Their Own

The spring of 1945 found women suiting up in jerseys and skirts for the start of the league's third season

When Philip K. Wrigley spearheaded the effort to remedy professional baseball’s wartime decline with a women’s league, one question dogged the league’s founders: what, exactly, to call it. It wasn’t technically softball. The ball was smaller, the bases farther apart and stealing bases—forbidden in softball—was permitted. But it wasn’t baseball, either: the ball was larger and the bases, closer. They settled on a compromise: The All-American Girls Professional Ball League.

The league that would later inspire the 1992 movie A League of Their Own — and the enduring exclamation, “There’s no crying in baseball!” — had just kicked off its third season when LIFE featured it in a photo essay in 1945. The six teams, all based in the Midwest, were comprised of nearly 100 women between the ages of 16 and 27 who played for $50 to $85 per week. Eight were married and three had children. Nearly half a million spectators were expected to turn out over the course of that season, shelling out $0.74 for a seat to watch the Rockford Peaches face the South Bend Blue Sox and the Grand Rapid Chicks take on the Racine Belles.

As exciting as it was to watch women slide and steal and scuff their knees, the league was a product of its time, and its strict rules of conduct reflected this. According to LIFE, “League rules establish she must always wear feminine attire, cannot smoke or drink in public, cannot have dates except with ‘old friends’ and then only with the approval of the ever-present team chaperone.”

But as demure as the players may have been off the field, they were serious athletes as soon as the first pitch was thrown. Blue Sox Catcher Mary “Bonnie” Baker could throw 345 feet. Lefty pitcher Annabelle Lee threw a perfect game. And Sophie Kurys stole 1,114 bases during her ten-year career. The appeal of players’ athleticism kept the league going for more than a decade, with attendance peaking in the late 1940s at 910,000 fans. But the league’s decentralization, a dearth of qualified players and the rise of televised major league games eventually led to its demise, with players retiring their gloves after the close of the 1954 season.

Liz Ronk, who edited this gallery, is the Photo Editor for LIFE.com. Follow her on Twitter at @LizabethRonk.

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TIME golf

See Sports Illustrated’s 100 Best Masters Photos

Since the 1950s, Sports Illustrated has captured every big moment at the Masters. Take a look back at the 100 best photos, including Jack's magical finish in 1986, Arnie's last win in 1964, and Tiger's 2001 masterpiece.

TIME golf

Phil Mickelson Drops the Best Golfing Humble Brag Ever

The Masters - Preview Day 2
David Cannon — Getty Images Phil Mickelson speaks to the media following a practice round ahead of the 2015 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2015 in Augusta, Georgia.

Lefty’s got 99 problems but a green jacket ain’t one

Phil Mickelson likes to have one of his prized green blazers on him during a round of golf, you know, in case it gets cold.

According to the three-time Masters Tournament winner, he relishes in showing up to corporate events with a green jacket in tow. (The jackets are awarded to the winners of the annual Masters Tournament).

“If it was chilly in the morning, I would pull it out,” Mickelson told reporters ahead of the Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on Tuesday.

“I wouldn’t carry three [green jackets] around with me, but I would say, ‘I’ve got two more if you’re cold.’”

However, Mickelson admits he’s got to be careful whom he brags in front of.

“Some people can take it, some people can’t,” he joked.

Mickelson is scheduled to tee off on Thursday morning alongside Rory McIlroy for the first round of the 2015 Masters Tournament in Augusta, Georgia.

TIME Basketball

3-Peat: UConn Beats Notre Dame 63-53 for 3rd Straight Title

Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis #23 of the Connecticut Huskies holds the trophy after defeating the Notre Dame Fighting Irish 63-53 during the NCAA Women's Final Four National Championship at Amalie Arena on April 7, 2015 in Tampa, Fla.
Mike Carlson—Getty Images Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis #23 of the Connecticut Huskies holds the trophy after defeating the Notre Dame Fighting Irish 63-53 during the NCAA Women's Final Four National Championship at Amalie Arena on April 7, 2015 in Tampa, Fla.

The Huskies have won five of the last seven titles

(TAMPA) — Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Moriah Jefferson each scored 15 points and UConn beat Notre Dame 63-53 on Tuesday night to win the Huskies third straight championship and 10th overall, tying Geno Auriemma with John Wooden for the most titles in college basketball.

UConn’s coach has now won all 10 of his trips to the national championship game. The Huskies have won five of the last seven titles.

Breanna Stewart stated when she came to UConn that her goal was to win four championships. The junior is now one title away from being the first to win four straight. Stewart has been a huge reason why the Huskies have been on their won three consecutive titles.

The 6-foot-4 star is the latest in a long line of outstanding UConn players that Auriemma has coached, including Rebecca Lobo, Diana Taurasi, Sue Bird and Maya Moore.

TIME Football

Ex-NFL Player Charged With Running $31 Million Ponzi Scheme

San Francisco 49ers v Miami Dolphins
Joe Robbins—Getty Images Will Allen of the Miami Dolphins in 2008.

More than 40 people invested money into the scheme between 2012 and earlier this year

Correction appended, April 8

Former NFL cornerback Will Allen has been charged with fraud by the Securities and Exchange Commission for allegedly operating a $31 million Ponzi scheme, Aruna Viswanatha of The Wall Street Journal reports.

Allen, 36, was a first-round pick in the 2001 draft out of Syracuse by the New York Giants. He played five seasons with the Giants and another five with the Miami Dolphins before finishing his career with the New England Patriots in 2012.

Allen allegedly worked with Susan Daub to form several companies offering loans to professional athletes. The pair offered investors up to 18% interest in exchange for providing loans to athletes who were between paychecks.

“As in any Ponzi scheme, the appearance of a successful investment was only an illusion sustained by lies,” said Paul Levenson, who heads the SEC’s Boston office, which investigated the case.

More than 40 people invested money into the Ponzi scheme between 2012 and earlier this year. The Associated Press reports Allen gave $18 million in loans and used $7 million for his own spending.

Viswanatha reports the documents show one of Allen and Daub’s companies, Capital Financial Partners, made a $3.4 million loan to an NHL player, but told investors it was a $5.65 million loan. The NHL player eventually filed for bankruptcy.

Correction: The original version of this story included a photo of the incorrect Will Allen.

This article originally appeared on SI.com

TIME Baseball

These Charts Show How Baseball Games Might Actually Be Getting Cheaper

See which MLB teams and stadium items are the most (and least) expensive

With the Major League Baseball season underway, the slight rise in average ticket price to $28.94 this year is no surprise.

But while average ticket prices grew by about a dollar, the average cost of beer slid down to $5.98, according to an annual roundup by Team Marketing Report published Monday. But the best news for fans is that the Fan Cost Index—the average cost of the tickets, food and parking a four-person family might buy—has fallen to $211.68 this year from $212.46 last year. In the chart below, see how the prices have changed for various items of the last several years:

 

The report also ranked the MLB teams by how expensive the average items are in their games. Boston Red Sox games have the highest averages in several categories, but other teams are vying for the most-expensive title in others. Meanwhile, the San Diego Padres are the cheapest in the Fan Cost Index. See how the teams’ average prices stack up in the chart below:

 

TIME

What the New Faces in Your Baseball Team’s Opening Day Lineup Say About Its Chances in 2015

Compare your team's lineup to last season and see how the changes bode for this year

For baseball fans who do not follow off-season intrigue, Opening Day can feel a lot like the first day of school. Who’s that new kid at third base? And what happened to that guy who used to play left field?

On average, teams replace between three and four players in their Opening Day lineup each season. (3.6, to be exact.) But that figure varies widely from team to team and season to season. Of the 1,434 Opening Day lineups that TIME examined going back to 1960, 23 teams have kept the exact lineup from one season to the next, while 24 teams have swapped out eight or more of their previous season’s starters. (To be fair, that latter number includes the first season of expansion teams, who naturally have all new players.)

Here’s a quick picture of how much a team’s Opening Day lineup changes from year to year, going back to the 1960 season.

Changes to lineups, while often unavoidable, are decidedly bad for a team’s immediate outlook. There is clear correlation between the number of new players in an Opening Day lineup and the team’s winning percentage for that season.

See where your team falls on this curve by clicking or tapping the logo:

Lest you see a lot of new faces on your team and give up hope, there is a huge amount of variation in the data, and new faces can be a bonus for a stagnating team. Just ask the Dodgers, whose new shortstop, the veteran Jimmy Rollins, hit a clutch three-run homer yesterday to power them past the Padres.

For one thing, these charts measure the number of new faces on the Opening Day roster, which can include veteran pitchers like the Red Sox’s Clay Buchholz who finally moved to the top of the rotation. And plenty of teams with a turnover of six or more players have had successful seasons. It’s just less likely. It turns out there is, in fact, a lot of truth to the notion of a rebuilding year.

Methodology

A player’s appearance on an Opening Day roster is counted independent of what position he played, so players who move around the diamond are not counted as new faces. Players traded from one team to another do count as new, so a player making his first Opening Day appearance with a team is not necessarily a rookie.

The correlation between the number of new players on Opening Day and the team’s winning percentage for the season is -0.34. The distribution of each point is shown here with the line of best fit.

Data comes from Retrosheet.org, Baseball-Reference.com and Major League Baseball. For the portions of the data that come from Retrosheet, the following statement applies: “The information used here was obtained free of charge from and is copyrighted by Retrosheet. Interested parties may contact Retrosheet at www.retrosheet.org.”

TIME Appreciation

NBA Player Gives His All-Star Game MVP Prize to Single Mom

OKC Thunder's Russell Westbrook donates the winning car

On the court, Russell Westbrook is one of the most intimidating players in the NBA, but he’s a really good guy outside the lines.

On Monday, Westbrook took the car he won with his All-Star Game MVP award and donated it to a single mother named Kerstin Gonzales.

A local charity recommended Gonzales receive the car and Westbrook was there to hand over the keys.

He’s not so scary when he takes off that mask.

This article originally appeared on SI.com.

TIME Basketball

What’s Next for Duke and Coach K?

Wisconsin v Duke
Streeter Lecka—Getty Images Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski after the Blue Devils defeat the Wisconsin Badgers at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on April 6, 2015

Mike Krzyzewski can't coach forever

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski won his fifth NCAA championship Monday night; only UCLA’s John Wooden, with 10, has won more titles in the men’s college game. Coach K guided the U.S. men’s team to the last two Olympic gold medals, the last two world championships and will go for another Olympic gold in 2016 in Rio. This season, he reached his 12th Final Four, tying Wooden for the most appearances ever, and also became the first men’s coach in Division 1 history to win 1,000 games. He’s 68 years old.

Over the past few weeks — and especially as Duke cut down the nets Monday night after beating Wisconsin, 68-63, in the national title game — I’ve been thinking too much about one question: Who’s going to replace Coach K?

I know, nice timing: we just finished a pretty great championship game, and I’m pondering Krzyzewski‘s exit, which seems at least a few years away. Duke looked done, as Wisconsin had a nine-point lead in the second half. The team’s future NBA draft picks, freshmen Jahlil Okafor and Justise Winslow, were on the bench with foul trouble. But freshman guards Tyus Jones and Grayson Allen took over, and once Okafor got back into the game, he woke up and took over down the stretch. Duke’s defense improved, the Blue Devils got a little assistance from the refs — shocking — and, suddenly, Duke broke Wisconsin’s heart.

Fresh off this drama, why in the world am I wondering what Duke will look like three, five, maybe seven years down the road? Krzyzewski’s been winning plenty lately. He seems sharp and energized. But Duke’s post-K future is so intriguing because it doesn’t just concern the intramural college coaching carousel. No, it’s one of the higher-stakes succession stories in American business.

Like it or not, Duke is a sports dynasty that generates millions of dollars, and stirs the passions of millions of loyalists — and haters. Coach K has built a consequential enterprise. Maybe he gets too much credit for “the program.” But it’s developed in his image. Can anyone live up to him?

Following Coach K will be a rough gig. Wooden’s successors, for example, struggled in his shadow. But that doesn’t mean a crew of Krzyzewski’s former players and assistants aren’t positioning themselves for that prize. A current K assistant, Jeff Capel, already had some success coaching Blake Griffin at Oklahoma. He’s likely on his way to Arizona State: if he can win there, he’s a prime candidate. Former Duke assistant Mike Brey, whose Notre Dame team almost made this year’s Final Four, would be in the running. So would former Duke player and assistant coach Tommy Amaker, who has made four straight NCAA tournament appearances as head coach at Harvard. Amaker’s former teammate Johnny Dawkins has had mixed success at Stanford: the Cardinal just won the NIT, which is nice. But that means Stanford didn’t make the Big Dance.

Chris Collins and Steve Wojciechowski, another pair of former Duke players and assistants, are just getting their head-coaching careers started at Northwestern and Marquette, respectively. And what about Bobby Hurley, the all-time assists leader in Division 1 men’s hoops, and maybe Coach K’s favorite player ever. He’s a hot coaching commodity after leading Buffalo to this year’s tournament. Will he be ready for Duke in a few years?

Will Duke ever be able to cut down those nets on a Monday night, without Mike Krzyzewski on the ladder?

TIME Basketball

The NBA Is Going to Cuba for a Basketball Clinic

The trip is being organized as part of the Basketball Without Borders program

The NBA is taking a team to the Cuban capital, Havana, for a four-day basketball clinic, the New York Times reports.

Under the auspices of the Basketball Without Borders program, the NBA will coordinate with the International Basketball Federation to bring Spanish-speaking players to meet their Cuban counterparts. Among those in attendance will be former point guard Steve Nash, ex-center Dikembe Mutombo and retired WNBA All-Star Ticha Penicheiro, along with NBA executives.

The news comes in the wake of the recent thawing of U.S.-Cuba relations.

“We’ve seen the bridges that basketball can build between cultures,” NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum told the Times.

Two Cuban-born players have competed briefly in the NBA: Lazaro Borrell (with Seattle from 1999 to 2000) and Andres Guibert (Minnesota, 1993 to 1995). The sport itself has been played in Cuba for decades, with the women’s team particularly successful, coming first in the 2013 Americas competition.

The clinic will run from April 23 to 26.

[NYT]

 

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