This image is an action shot of a woman named Doris Sams, who is pitching in a baseball game. The viewer can tell that Sams’ is playing baseball and not softball because she is pitching in an overhand technique. If she were playing softball, Sams’ would have been pitching in an underhand position. On the surface level, this image is challenging the stereotype that women do not belong in the sport of baseball. It is challenging the notion of females not playing a role in baseball because of the fact that she is physically playing the sport. Historically professional baseball is a sport that is believed to be only played by men, and that construction is being counteracted with the image of Sams. This image is around the period when women had a professional baseball league. This historical moment of women playing ball professionally happened in the decades of the 1940’s and 1950’s. In a sense this image represents a lot of struggles that women have overcome. Some of those struggles include playing sports but especially playing a sport that is male dominated and in this case it is baseball.
During the 1940’s and 1950’s women had a very minimal presence in the public sphere especially in the area of sports. The belief that “the ‘national game’ of baseball, football, and boxing were too strenuous for women,” is being defied by the image of Sams playing baseball (Green). Obviously, during the time frame that women had a professional baseball league people thought otherwise that baseball was inadequate for women. Women like Sams were challenging the idealogy that many people in society had about female baseball players. Sams along with the rest of the women that played in this professional league proved to society that women are indeed capable of playing the sport. In the All American Girls Professional Baseball League website, it is mentioned that there was huge support and a fan base of these women playing ball (aagpbl.org). It was not that women could not play the sport physically but it was the mentality that society had on women playing baseball. Through this women’s league, society’s state of mind on women playing baseball changed. This image is proof that women can play baseball and also be good at it.
Even though this image is challenging the many stereotypes that people believe about women, it also reinforces them. One of the stereotypes that this image reinforces is the relationship between being an athlete and femininity. It is understood that women play sports but at the same time society felt that women should still be intact with their femininity. The notion of femininity is shown in the image of Sams through her uniform. Sams is playing in a sporty dress depicting that she is in fact a female. Not only did women have to worry about their appearance off the field but also on the field. In this specific women’s baseball league there was “an effort to make each player as physically attractive as possible, each player received a beauty kit and instructions on how to use it” (Lesko). The fact that women were given these beauty kits stated that being “beautiful” goes hand in hand with being a female baseball player. Female baseball players were given these standards to appear by when their male counterparts most likely did not have to adhere to.
Green, Harvey. “Living the Strenuous Life,” Fit for America: Health, Fitness, Sport and American Society. New York: Pantheon Books, 1986, 219-258.
Lesko, Jeneane. “All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.” Web. 20 Jan. 2014. http://www.aagpbl.org