A Real Life “League Of Their Own” Story

Josephine D’Angelo, who passed away this month at the age of 88, was one of the original members of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. Identifying as a lesbian, she experienced a different side of the league depicted in the famous movie.

1. Josephine D’Angelo, who passed away on August 18th at the age of 88, was a left fielder in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.


2. “JoJo” was one of the sixty original players to join the league for its inaugural season in 1942.

3. D’Angelo played for the South Bend Blue Sox, second only to the infamous Rockford Peaches.

4. At the time, men were being drafted into the armed services. This all-female league was created to keep up attendance at Major League parks.


5. According to her obituary, much of her life was depicted in the 1992 film A League Of Their Own.

6. She often shared the field with Dorothy Schroeder, said to be the inspiration for the character “Dottie Hinson” who was portrayed by Geena Davis.


7. And she tried out at Wrigley Field, a scene that was depicted in the Penny Marshall directed film.

8. Supporting herself and saving money for college, playing baseball served as a kind of escape for D’Angelo.

Susan K. Cahn, a history professor at the State University of New York-Buffalo, wrote that sports helped her “forge private social networks with women she described as ‘people of a kind.”

9. The league followed strict rules when it came to the types of women allowed to play, and what clothing they wore while playing.

State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory

10. D’Angelo followed the rules, dressed in feminine clothing, and purposefully stayed away from the “gay crowd.”

11. The League’s Rules Of Conduct read:

- ALWAYS appear in feminine attire when not actively engaged in practice or playing ball. This regulation continues through the playoffs for all, even though your team is not participating. AT NO TIME MAY A PLAYER APPEAR IN THE STANDS IN HER UNIFORM, OR WEAR SLACKS OR SHORTS IN PUBLIC.

- Boyish bobs are not permissible and in general your hair should be well groomed at all times with longer hair preferable to short hair cuts. Lipstick should always be on.

12. Josephine D’Angelo knew just how strictly these rules were enforced from first hand experience.

13. Her career was ended prematurely due to her choice of hairstyle:

But it all came to a halt at the end of her second season, when a team official “approached her in the hotel lobby and told her she had been released. The reason? D’Angelo had gotten a severe, or, in her own words, ‘butchy’ haircut,” Cahn wrote. Ironically, she didn’t really want her hair cut short. The hairdresser convinced her she would look good with a bob.

14. Ms. D’Angelo had a tip for girl players? “Play with boy players early in life.”

15. Those who came to pay their respects at the funeral services received a unique prayer card. Instead of a picture of a saint, it featured a photo from “JoJo’s” playing days that made it resemble a baseball card.

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Sarah Karlan is the Deputy LGBT Editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Sarah Karlan at
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