Obit of the Day: League of Their Own Chaperone
When the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL) began play in 1943 they not only wanted talented ballplayers who looked good playing in skirts. The league had to make sure that their players behaved appropriately and were models of decorum. So, unlike their male counterparts in the American and National Leagues, the AAGPBL players had team chaperones.
The chaperones would not only keep wary eyes on potential suitors for their wards but they became “surrogate mothers” who helped find housing, delivered paychecks and even arranged team transportation. According to league rules:
4. All social engagements must be approved by chaperone. Legitimate requests for dates can be allowed by chaperones.
6. All living quarters and eating places must be approved by the chaperones. No player shall change her residence without the permission of the chaperone.
One of these women was Helen Hannah Campbell who served as an AAGPBL chaperone from 1947-1951 with the Muskegon (MI) Lassies. She was hired after her father, James Hannah, a former Yankee teammate of Babe Ruth’s spoke with the league president.
She would stay with the Lassies until the outbreak of the Korean War in 1951. Mrs. Campbell had enlisted in the Marine Corps Women’s Reserve in 1943 when the USMC finally allowed women to join. (According to Mrs. Campbell the commandant of the Marines “didn’t want skirts with his male Marines.”) She would serve in the Corps for thirty-two years retiring in 1976 as a gunnery sergeant.
Mrs. Campbell, who was a high school classmate of President Richard Nixon and a docent at his presidential library in Yorba Linda, CA, passed away on March 24, 2013 at the age of 97.
(Image of Helen Hannah Campbell in her chaperone uniform, circa 1947-1951, is courtesy of sportsartifacts.com)
Other members of the AAGPBL
Pepper Paire Davis - Consultant on A League of Their Own
Sophie Kunys - All-time stolen base leader in the AAGPBL
Doris Sams - Threw a perfect game