Get to Know Pro Baseball's Gay Pioneers
BY Michelle Garcia
March 21 2014 5:00 AM ET
Never mind those amazing baseball pants or lookers like Matt Kemp and Mike Piazza on the field (hello-o-o, nurse!). Baseball is America's pastime, and it's starting back up quite soon. Now that both professional basketball and soccer have active openly gay players and the NFL likely will in a few weeks after the draft, we're looking at baseball as the sport on deck. Here are a few LGBT things about American pro baseball.
Though we definitely loved the gals of summer portrayed in A League Of Their Own, the movie did have one pretty significant omission: lesbians. While many of Major League Baseball's top talents were overseas fighting World War II, the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League employed 60 women to play ball. And just as in the movie, there were tons of rules, including one that essentially barred any woman who even looked like she might want to round the bases with another lady. JoJo D'Angelo was a (quietly) out lesbian who played for the South Bend Blue Socks. But at the end of her second season in the league, her baseball career was cut short by a short haircut. A league official told her that she was released because of her "butchy" haircut, in a style she said she actually did not want.
D'Angelo rallied and returned to Chicago, where she earned a degree in physical education from DePaul University. She later got her master's in counseling and spent the bulk of her career working at Chicago-area high schools. At the out athlete's funeral, guests received a picture from JoJo's ball-playing days made to look like a baseball card, in lieu of a prayer card with a saint on it.