Women in Baseball History: Take Me Out to the Ball Game

Today’s woman in baseball history is a little bit different, mainly because she is fictional. She might not be well known, but Katie Casey* [and in later versions Nelly Kelly]’s infamous plea to her beau for a date that she would enjoy has become the anthem of baseball the world over.

This song was written in 1908 by Tin Pan Alley composers Jack Norworth and Albert Von Tilzer and it proved to be huge hit on the Vaudeville circuit, with audiences excitedly singing along to the chorus’s plea.

It has since become one of the most well known American songs, sung at almost every baseball game; a song about one young woman’s great love for the sport of baseball.

*A story written later by Sports Illustrated writer Frank Deford posits that Katie Casey is the daughter of The Mighty Casey from Casey At The Bat.

[Women in Baseball History is a weekly feature in honor of my book The Legend of League Park, which will be released in April.]

Women in Baseball History: Alta Weiss

“I found that you can’t play ball in skirts, I tried. I wore a skirt over my bloomer– and nearly broke my neck. Finally I was forced to discard it, and now I always wear bloomers.”

I would be remiss if I didn’t begin this series with one of the two major inspirations behind my novel Legend of League Park. [The other will follow later]

Alta Weiss Pitching
Image courtesy of Ball State University Library

Alta Weiss is one of the great claims to fame of the area in which I grew up. She was born in Berlin, Ohio and moved to Ragersville, Ohio in childhood. The fact that I didn’t learn much about her until I began research on this project is something I find unfortunate.

In 1907 at just 16 years of age, she was discovered by the Vermillion Independents, a semipro team in the Cleveland area and agreed to pitch for the then all-male team. Competitors, teammates, and spectators alike were in awe of the woman they and the press had dubbed the “Girl Wonder” and news of her spread quickly throughout Northeast Ohio.  When she made her League Park debut in the fall of 1907 against the Vacha All-Stars (also a Cleveland area team), the Independents won 7-6. Soon special trains were being run into the city whenever Alta was slated to play.

Alta’s baseball stardom, though never on a pro-team, helped paved the way for her to be a pioneer in other fields as well. The money that she made from playing baseball was used to finance her education at Starling College of Medicine, which would later become Ohio State University Medical College. She was the only women to graduate in the class of 1914 and proceeded to take over her father’s medical practice.

Though she played her last officially uniformed game in 1922, she truly stands out as a pioneer woman of baseball history.

Alta Weiss
Image courtesy of Cleveland State University

“Miss Alta Weiss can easily lay claim to being the only one who can handle the ball from the pitcher’s box in such style that some of the best semi-pros are made to fan the atmosphere. –The Loran Times Herald, 1907

[Women in Baseball History is a weekly feature in honor of my book The Legend of League Park, which will be released in April.]

The Legend of League Park: An announcement

Some of you may know this, but in April I will be officially launching my first published work: The Legend of League Park.

This is truly a dream come true. Not only has being a published author been my dream since I was a very young girl, but the themes in this novel are very close to my heart.

The work itself has gone through many incarnations since it’s initial inception. What was originally meant to be a book about a young baseball historian discovering the Cleveland Naps (a plot I may still use in the future) has morphed into a coming of age story about two young women  dedicated to achieving their dreams, despite the “boys’ club” mentality of the fields in which they wish to excel.

In honor of this (and, of course, to build some anticipation), I’ve decided that I will be blogging each week about an interesting woman from baseball history. I’m really excited to bring you this blog series. It will begin on Monday.