#Shortstops: Ladies Day promotions gave women the chance to cheer
It was particularly successful at Wrigley Field, and spread across Major League Baseball into the 1980s.
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Ladies Day promotions also became an opportunity to comment on the appearances of female fans. Women could gain admission if they, “...smiled and looked pretty”. Ballparks also started to partner with businesses to offer free nylons on Ladies Days. Wrigley Field, which was overwhelmed by the success of the promotion, tried to curtail the female crowds by encouraging retailers to begin their own Ladies Day campaigns on game days. This was an attempt to lure women away from ballparks and into shopping centers.
Unfortunately, women were also accused of neglecting their duties at home by visiting the ballpark. One article claimed, “…some women are more loyal indeed to the team than they are to the old man who probably is at home wondering when in heck when he’s going to get his dinner.”
But despite the discouragement from newspapers, disgruntled men, and even the ballparks themselves, women continued to visit games and made Ladies Day promotions successful for decades to come.
Ladies Day promotions persisted after World War II and through the Civil Rights era, but were ultimately terminated in the 1980s due to a claim of reverse discrimination in Abosh v. New York Yankees. But the effects of the promotion can still be felt today with Major League Games seeing almost equal attendance by both men and women.
Although Ladies Day promotions yielded negative attention at times, the unprecedented popularity of the games proved that women desired a place in the ballpark just as much as the men. The women who asserted their right to visit a ballpark reflected the greater fight for equal rights in American Culture.
Jessica Hollister was the 2018 photo archives intern in the Hall of Fame’s Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program for Youth Leadership Development