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Exhibition Baseball Americana

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In mid-twentieth-century America, it was sometimes hard to tell whether baseball was throwing the country a few curveballs or if the country was stepping up to the plate and affecting baseball. Attention turned toward those who traditionally occupied the fringes of organized sport. Established during World War II, the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (1943–1954) showcased the talent of women recruited from the nation’s myriad softball leagues and provided home front entertainment throughout the Midwest. After the war, the black press, civil rights organizations, and others who had spent decades calling for integrated major league baseball were rewarded with the sight of Jackie Robinson wearing a Brooklyn Dodgers jersey even as he withstood hecklers and death threats. Today nearly 14 million Americans play baseball or softball, many on coed and diverse teams, and more women and girls than ever are competing in hardball.