A league of her own: Lebanon native Betty Wagoner was an all-star pro girls baseball player

By: 
TOM EMERY FOR THE LACLEDE COUNTY RECORD

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, when women took the field in the wartime era. A Lebanon native was one of the better players in the league.
Betty Wagoner, who was born in Lebanon on July 15, 1930, was a star in the AAGPBL, which lasted from 1943-54. She spent seven seasons in the league, mainly with the South Bend Blue Sox, and helped the franchise to two league titles. Wagoner was an All-Star in 1953.
A multi-sport athlete, Wagoner played on a boys’ softball team in Phillipsburg and eventually was on the girls’ softball team at Bolivar, where she graduated from high school. She read about the AAGPBL in Life Magazine at age 12 and attended a tryout for the league in Chicago five years later.
The AAGPBL was not entirely a novelty. With the country mired in World War II, Major League Baseball was suffering an enormous talent drain, as many superstars either enlisted or were drafted. Many minor leagues were disbanded due to a player shortage, and owners feared a sharp decline in attendance.

For more on this story, see Saturday's print or e-Edition of the LCR.

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The Laclede County Record

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