LANSING | Professional women's baseball was played Saturday at Lan-Oak Park. But the game was less about athletic competition and more about trying to portray the past -- particularly the years during World War II.
The teams involved were the Rockford Peaches and the Kenosha Comets, both of the All-American Girls Living History League, which attempts to re-create the feel of the women's professional baseball league that existed in the Midwest in the 1940s and early '50s.
Specifically, the Living History League re-creates the old All-American league as it existed in 1943.
Rebecca Tulloch, a Bartlett resident who manages the league and plays third base for the Peaches, said in addition to playing the league's schedule, teams often would put together an all-star team that would tour military bases to play games against army teams.
It was in that context that players from the Rockford and Kenosha teams were at Lan-Oak Park on Saturday afternoon, where they were playing a ballgame with soldier re-enactors who took part in a WWII battle in the southern half of the park.
During the game, the soldiers' commanding officer interrupted, telling the men to "Gear up!" so they could fight in an afternoon battle. That left the women alone to finish their game.
"They would go to army bases and help maintain morale for the soldiers," Tulloch said. "We're trying to show that aspect of the league by being (in Lansing on Saturday)."
The former All-American Girls Professional Baseball League is known to many for its portrayal in "A League of Their Own," a 1991 film by director Penny Marshall that starred Geena Davis, Lori Petty, Rosie O'Donnell and Madonna. The league was created in part by Chicago Cubs owner Philip K. Wrigley to be a replacement for major league baseball if the war had resulted in baseball being shut down for the duration.
Yet, Tulloch emphasized that the details related to the kind of baseball the women played in the film -- identical to baseball played by men -- were accurate only for the league's final years of existence.
In its early years, the game they played more closely resembled fast-pitch softball, and that is what the women played on Saturday.
"It only made sense, since the women who played in the league in the beginning were used to playing softball in the local leagues where they were discovered," Tulloch said.
She said the league continues to seek people interested in participating on the teams, and asks those women 17 or older who want to know more to check out their website at www.ww2girlsbaseball.com.
"We're about having fun and trying to have historical accuracy," said Tulloch. "Past baseball experience isn't necessary. We're willing to work with people who are interested in learning."