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The Maddy English Collection is part of the Kathleen Bertrand and Linda Lundin, Honoring Women in Sports Collection.
Madeline “Maddy” English was born in 1925 and grew up in Everett, MA. Lacking opportunities to participate in local sports while growing up, in 1939 at age 14 she joined a traveling Massachusetts softball team that played summer exhibition games. This experience also gave her initial exposure as an up-and-coming athlete. Not restricted to one sport, English was also successful in track and field as a young athlete. In 1941, at age 16, she participated in the women’s USA Outdoor Track and Field Championship. Early U.S. women track stars, such as Stella Walsh and Babe Didrikson, had a history of participating in this prestigious event with Didrikson holding the record in 1941 for one of the events English participated in, the baseball throw. English also participated in the 50-meter run at this event.
In 1943 the All-American Girls Soft Ball League was created by Philip K. Wrigley, owner of Major League Baseball’s Chicago Cubs, in response to MLB rosters being decimated by the draft during World War II which was creating a loss of revenue. English was invited for a tryout at Chicago’s Wrigley Field. By the time the tryouts were finished English was selected as one of the sixty original league players and assigned to the Racine Belles. The league would change its name to the All-American Professional Girls Baseball League (AAGPBL) after the inaugural season.
English would go on to play eight seasons for the Racine Belles, the entire history of the team’s existence in Racine as they would disband after the 1950 season. During this time Racine won two league championships, including the league’s first championship in 1943. English was Racine’s third baseman during her years in the league. Her jersey number was 16 during her career and she was selected to three all-star teams.
English was heavily involved with the AAGPBL’s efforts to remain active in keeping the memory of the league alive. The first league reunion took place in 1982. Momentum to promote and increase awareness of the league’s history continued, culminating in the league being inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY in 1988. With the release of the 1992 movie, A League of Their Own, interest in the league increased.
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