*Narrators 1, 2, 3 (N1, N2, N3)
*Georgia Baskin: a young teenage girl who loves baseball
*Florence: Georgia’s friend
*Jennie: Georgia’s friend
Frankie: Georgia’s older brother
*Mr. Baskin: Georgia’s dad
*Mrs. Baskin: Georgia’s mom
In this touching historical-fiction play, talented teenager Georgia Baskin joins the new women’s professional baseball league while her brother is away fighting in World War II.
Learning Objective: Students will identify key details in a historical fiction play that reveal the changing roles of and attitudes toward women during World War II.
September 1941–A small town in upstate New York
N1: Georgia, Florence, and Jennie are playing catch in Georgia’s backyard.
Florence: Georgia Baskin is on the mound! She winds up, and here’s the pitch!
N2: Georgia pitches the ball to Jennie.
Jennie (catching the ball): Youch!
Georgia: Sorry, Jen! Just tryin’ out my fastball.
Jennie: Must be Frankie’s mitt. It gives you special powers.
Georgia: Those special powers won’t protect me if Frankie catches me using it.
Florence: How did Frankie get Joe DiMaggio to sign it?
Historian 1: Joe DiMaggio was the most famous baseball player in America during the 1940s.
Georgia: Dad was visiting his brother in New York City. They went to Yankee Stadium and waited in the rain for Joe to appear.
Jennie: Frankie is so lucky!
Georgia: Dad should have given me the mitt. I’m the one who loves baseball.
Historian 2: In the 1940s, women did not have the same opportunities as men. Women could not play on professional sports teams, and it was very difficult for female athletes like Georgia to be taken seriously.
Florence: Here comes Frankie.
Jennie: Uh-oh. Let’s scoot, Flo!
Frankie (charging into the yard): What did I tell you about taking my mitt?!
N3: Georgia throws the baseball in the air so high it seems to disappear into the clouds. She lines up the mitt to catch it, but Frankie yanks the mitt off her hand.
N1: The ball hits the ground in a cloud of dust.
Frankie: Real girls don’t play in the dirt.
That night–The Baskins’ house
N2: As the Baskins sit down to dinner, Frankie complains about Georgia.
Frankie: I’ve told her a million times not to use my mitt! (to Georgia) Take it again and I’ll . . .
Mr. Baskin: Enough! Don’t we have more important worries than some baseball mitt?
N3: The Baskins finish their dinner in silence. Afterward, Georgia helps her mother with the dishes.
Georgia: I’m sorry.
Mrs. Baskin: They’re not really upset with you, dear. They’re just tense. The news isn’t good over in Europe.
Historian 1: World War II had erupted. Germany had taken over much of Europe.
Historian 2: Any day, America could go to war.
Georgia (quietly): Will Frankie have to fight?
Mrs. Baskin: Yes, I believe he will.
January 1943–The office of Philip Wrigley in Chicago
Mr. Wrigley: Gentlemen, let’s face facts. Our country is at war. Our best men are on the battlefields, not on the baseball diamonds.
Historian 1: By 1943, America was fighting Germany and Japan.
Historian 2: More than 9 million Americans were in the armed forces—
Historian 1: —including half of all Major League Baseball players.
Mr. Meyerhoff: Sir, President Roosevelt himself told us baseball is important for Americans. We need something to cheer about these days.
Mr. Wrigley: Exactly my thinking. That’s why I want to start a new league—a girls league. We’ll find the best girl players in the country, make up a few teams, and let ’em play ball.
Mr. Meyerhoff: You really think Americans want to see their girls chewing tobacco and cursing at umpires?
Mr. Wrigley: Oh, we’ll make sure they behave like ladies. We’ll dress ’em up in fetching uniforms. Even send ’em to charm school.
Mr. Meyerhoff: Brilliant. They’ll look like ladies—but they’ll play ball like gentlemen.
Mr. Wrigley: Mark my words: Americans will love this.
A few weeks later–A high school playing field
Jennie: Georgia, you’re a star! Did you hear your mom screaming for you?
Georgia: It’s nice to see her smiling. She’s so worried about Frankie that she rarely smiles anymore.
Jennie: Have you heard from him since he left?
Georgia: We only get scraps of news.
Florence: At least you have his Joe DiMaggio mitt. It’s bringing you luck.
Georgia: I don’t have the mitt anymore. I sent it to Frankie. I just hope he gets it.
Jennie: That’s big of you, Georgia.
Florence: He won’t have time to play baseball— not on a battleship in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
Georgia: Maybe the mitt will bring him luck.
N1: Florence and Jennie leave. Georgia is collecting her gear when two men walk up.
Mr. Larkin: Georgia Baskin, right?
Mr. McDonald: You’ve got quite an arm.
Mr. Larkin: I’m Bill Larkin, and this here’s Joe McDonald. We’re talent scouts for a new ball league—a girls league, 100 percent professional.
Mr. McDonald: It’s going to be run by Mr. Philip Wrigley himself.
Mr. Larkin (handing Georgia a paper): This flyer explains all the details. Tryouts are in Medford this weekend, and we would like you to come. If we like you, we’ll send you to a final tryout in Chicago.
Mr. McDonald: Think about it, will you?
Georgia (thrilled): I certainly will!
Dinnertime–The Baskins’ house
Mrs. Baskin: I’m sending another package to Frankie tomorrow. Is there anything you two want to add?
Georgia: I want to write a letter to him about the new baseball league.
Mr. Baskin: A new league?
N2: Georgia takes the paper from her pocket and smooths it out. Mrs. Baskin picks it up.
Mrs. Baskin: A girls league! Isn’t that something! Girls playing like professionals!
Georgia: Two scouts came to my game today. They said I had talent and I should try out.
Mr. Baskin (scoffing): Nobody wants to watch girls try to play baseball.
Mrs. Baskin: They line up to see Georgia pitch at the high school games. She’s amazing.
Mr. Baskin: Georgia is 16 years old. She’s not going to be in some kind of a carnival!
Georgia: Excuse me. I have a terrible headache.
N3: Georgia gets up and goes to her room sadly.
Mr. Baskin: Girls playing baseball? If only Frank could hear this. He’d have a good laugh!
Mrs. Baskin: Women are working in factories. Women are making airplanes and ships and guns. Nobody says that’s nonsense.
Mr. Baskin: That’s different. Those women are helping us win the war.
Mrs. Baskin: These are dark times. If our daughter has a chance to live her dream, I want her to take it.
Mr. Baskin: But she’s so young.
Mrs. Baskin: So is Frank. And he’s at war.
Mr. Baskin (sighing): All right. If you want to let our girl go, I won’t stop her.
May 1943–Wrigley Field, Chicago
N1: Georgia aces her tryout in Medford.
N2: She is invited to Chicago for the finals.
N3: In Chicago, Georgia joins more than 250 young women trying out for just 60 spots on the league’s four teams.
N1: After fielding trials, Georgia sits on a bench next to another girl.
Georgia: Hi, I’m Georgia Baskin.
Sophie: I’m Sophie Kurys. Have you been watching some of these girls? They’re amazing.
Georgia: I’d say you’re one of the best.
Sophie: Thanks. You know, I’ve never wanted anything more in my entire life.
Georgia (smiling): Me neither.
N2: Finally, after three grueling days of tryouts, final selections are made.
N3: Georgia calls home with news.
Georgia: Mom! I made it! I’m on the Racine Belles! I’m going to be a professional baseball player!
Mrs. Baskin (worriedly): Oh, Georgia . . .
Georgia: What’s the matter?
Mrs. Baskin: We got a telegram. It’s Frank.
Georgia: What happened?
Mrs. Baskin: He’s been injured. There was an explosion on his ship. Four boys were killed. He is in a hospital in Hawaii. And . . . they don’t know if he’ll . . .
Georgia: I’m coming home.
Mrs. Baskin: No. You stay where you are. You will take this opportunity and make the most of it. Do you understand?
Georgia: Yes, Mom. Yes, I think I do.
Three months later–A playing field in Racine, Wisconsin
Announcer 1: That’s it, folks—another electrifying game between our own Racine Belles and the ferocious Rockford Peaches!
Announcer 2: We had some big plays. Sophie Kurys stole three bases.
Announcer 1: And we had solid relief pitching by youngster Georgia Baskin.
Announcer 2: Let’s have a cheer for the teams!
Announcer 1: God bless America and God bless our troops!
N1: The crowd cheers.
N2: After the game, Georgia and her teammates gather in the locker room.
Sophie: I’ve never had so much fun!
Georgia: When you stole home, my heart jumped out of my chest!
Sophie: They almost nabbed me!
N3: When Georgia leaves the locker room, she is shocked to find her parents waiting outside.
Georgia: Mom? Dad? Oh no! Has something happened to Frankie?
Mrs. Baskin: No, no, he’s fine. They’ve transferred him to San Francisco.
Mr. Baskin: You were great out there, Georgia.
N1: Mr. Baskin reaches into his bag.
Mr. Baskin: Frank sent something home for you. He asked me to deliver it myself.
Georgia: The DiMaggio mitt! I knew it would bring him luck.
Mr. Baskin: Look at it, Georgia. Do you notice anything different about it?
N2: Georgia studies the mitt intently. Then her face lights up.
Mr. Baskin: Mr. DiMaggio is in the Army too. Turns out he is stationed in San Francisco. He paid a visit to Frank’s hospital, and Frank got him to sign the mitt—again. For you.
Georgia (reading): “To Georgia Baskin, a fellow pro. Keep playing in the dirt, Joe DiMaggio.”
N3: Mr. Baskin gives Georgia a hug.
Mr. Baskin (whispering): I am so proud of you.
This play was originally published in the October / November 2016 issue.
More About the Story
historical fiction, fluency, vocabulary, close reading, key details, character, inference, theme, key ideas, text features, explanatory writing
Levels of Meaning
This play follows fictional teenager Georgia Baskin on her quest to become a professional baseball player while her brother is fighting in World War II. It also provides information about how women in the U.S. supported the war effort.
The play is mainly chronological. At key points in the action, historians provide context.
The play includes some challenging academic words (e.g. fetching, scoffing, grueling), as well as metaphors and hyperbole.
Some familiarity with baseball terminology and what life was like in America during World War II will be helpful.
1. Preparing to Read
Set a Purpose for Reading (10 minutes)
Watch a Video
Introduce Vocabulary (15 minutes, activity sheet online)
2. Reading the Play
Read and Unpack the Text (45 minutes, activity sheet online)
Close-Reading Questions (20 minutes)
3. Skill Building
Featured Skill: Understanding Historical Fiction
Focus on the text features with your students. Look at the photos and discuss the captions together. Then ask them to list facts from these text features about what was happening in America during World War II.
Have students watch the video “Beyond the Story: American Women During World War II.” Then ask them to use details from the play and the video to write an essay about the ways women’s roles changed during World War II.
Baseball and its vocabulary could be unfamiliar to some students from other countries. Choose a group of native speakers to find words in the play related to baseball, such as plate, mound, pitch, and mitt. Have them create a picture glossary and go over it with their ELL classmates.
Focus on fluency by assigning each group one scene from the play to practice reading aloud. Have groups rehearse, with members coaching each other to pay attention to the stage directions, punctuation, and characters’ feelings.