A Search For History

If you’re here looking for Cardinal writing, today there isn’t any here. However, I have a new post up over at Baseball Digest that I would appreciate you checking out. It talks all about Tony making players work for their playing time, and I had some fun writing it! In the meantime, I have a story for you, if you will indulge me for a few minutes…

I received a challenge from a friend when talking about ‘A League of Their Own’ one evening. Every time I watch that movie I remember that I live in the town where one of the teams from the AAGPBL was located, and I wonder where they played and what still exists to showcase the historic area. I made the mistake of mentioning my curiosity to said friend, who challenged me to go out and find it. I couldn’t say no, so I started researching. Unfortunately, what I found has left me frustrated.

The Racine Belles played at Horlick Field, which made me happy since I’d actually been there to watch a high school football game, not knowing that there was a baseball field on the other side of the bleachers I was sitting on. I’ve been searching for baseball in this goofy town for a year and didn’t know I already had found the field! What started to deflate my sails was when I found out that the championship game had not been filmed in Racine, but in Indiana, at a minor league ballpark that hadn’t even been in existence when the AAGPBL was playing. More confusion came when I learned that the championship game was actually played between the Belles and the Kenosha Comets that year, not the Belles and the Rockford Peaches. I don’t know why the movie changed those details, but that’s how it goes.

At this point all of my research had been online, and I had been coming up fairly empty as to what history might still exist that I could go and physically see. I finally decided that if there was something to see, I would find it at Horlick Field, so I made the five minute trek to the field to explore.

If you’re looking at the picture to the left, you are looking at all there is to see. I drove around the entirety of the complex before parking to get out. The whole place was locked up, which wasn’t particularly surprising, but I stuck my head through the gates to see if there was anything on the inside that might actually give clue to the history on this ground. Women in baseball is such an under-appreciated story, I felt like if I just looked hard enough I would surely find something. The Belles played there for over 10 years! How could there just be nothing?
After looking as far as I could through the gates, I gave up. Frustrated, I started walking back towards my car. I had been looking around by the baseball field, which is why I hadn’t noticed the plaque at the entrance of the football field. I almost missed it again, but happened to glance over as I was waiting to cross the street. This little plaque is the only reminder of the tough women who played their hearts out day in and day out on the grass of Horlick.
My search might be over. I’ve been poking around, but nothing has come up. My last play was to get in touch with the Racine Kiwanis Club to see if there is something else hidden away in a museum or something. I sent out an email to every branch in town, but I don’t think I should hold my breath. After being so excited to finally have something baseball-related near me, I could not be more frustrated with how this search has ended.

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