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Although female players were typically excluded from formal baseball teams, teams consisting entirely or partly of female players were organized across the country as early as the mid-1800s. The first female baseball club in Kansas and adjacent states was organized in Wichita in 1873. These early teams predated the arrival of the barnstorming teams with female players and usually one or more male players, who were sometimes disguised as women. Female players on most of these early traveling teams wore bloomers, and the teams were referred to as “bloomer girls.” Women on later teams wore traditional baseball uniforms and objected to the name. Some of these professional female ballplayers of the late 1800s and early 1900s, such as Maud Nelson of Chicago and Lizzie Murphy of New England, became well known. Two of the prominent players lived in Kansas City. This is the story of the professional careers in baseball—not softball—of Mae Arbaugh from Kansas City, Kansas and Ruth Egan from Kansas City, Missouri, both of whom played first base from 1899 to 1929, earning the respect of fans and male players.


Ruth Egan, Ruth Egan Adamson, Mae Arbaugh, Carrie Nation, Bloomer Girls, women’s baseball, Maud Nelson, Smoky Joe Wood, L.J. Galbreath, Logan J. Galbreath, W.P. Needham, A.P. Gibbs, J.L. Wilkinson


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Who’s on First? Kansas City’s Female Baseball Stars, 1899–1929