Oconto speaker series tackles ‘League of their Own’

Local ties to girls baseball league will be explored
NEW Media Staff

OCONTO — “Play Ball – Baseball and the All-American Girls Baseball League” is the Oct. 3 program in the Oconto County Historical Society speaker series, starting at 6:30 p.m. in the meeting room of the Beyer Home and Carriage Museum, 917 Park Ave., Oconto.

Oconto County had a unique connection to the professional baseball world of the 1940s and 1950s. Tom Thielke will explore the connection the county had with the formation of the All-American Girls’ Professional Baseball League. While the Brewers might be the favorite team of local baseball fans these days, the 1944 Milwaukee Chicks of the women’s professional baseball league actually won the championship 75 years ago.

We might not remember the All-American Girls’Professional Baseball League at all, if not for the 1992 blockbuster movie, “A League Of Their Own.” While the movie was a mostly fictional story about the Racine Belles and the Rockford Peaches, its cast guaranteed that it would be seen by millions, as it featured Geena Davis, Lori Petty, Rosie O’Donnell. Madonna and Tom Hanks. That film, directed by Penny Marshall, reignited interest in a bygone era of professional sports.

Thielke, the program presenter, is a native of Lakewood in northern Oconto County, and a former educator, He will explain some of the history behind the creation of the league in 1943. He will have some exhibits, including replica team uniforms and the movie poster, to support his presentation. He will tailor his presentation to connect with Oconto County, and you will be introduced to such names as Russ Bauers and Hermina “Irish” Franks.

The program is free. Refreshments will be served.