Photo of Betsy Jochum

BETSY “SOCKUM” JOCHUM

“Women in Skirts Playing Ball”

For a brief moment in time in the 1940s, women’s sports took the national spotlight. While Rosie the Riveter and other women helped the country by taking positions in assembly lines, Betsy Jochum and 59 other women demonstrated their patriotism by forming the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL). As a young girl there were no sports for girls, so Betsy and other neighborhood kids started playing baseball on a “corner lot with an old beat up ball.” According to Betsy, “We just played with any old thing and friction tape.”

It makes perfect sense then that when P.K. Wrigley of Wrigley gum fame decided to start a women’s professional baseball league, Betsy tried out. In addition to the free food, free shoes, free baseball glove and free lodging in the Belmont Hotel in downtown Chicago, one of the highlights for Betsy was the tryout itself: “We tried out at Wrigley Field, and women were never let on that field. We were the first ones.”

Betsy officially entered the AAGPBL in 1943, playing for the South Bend Blue Sox through 1948 when she retired instead of agreeing to a transfer to Peoria. During her time with the Blue Sox Betsy earned $50 a week plus expenses and played a variety of positions, including left field, center field, first base, and pitcher when the league switched to overhand. Betsy became known for her batting proficiency, averaging .246 in her career and leading the league in 1943 with .295 and 1944 with .296. Game after game, “the same faithful fans would sit behind our dugout every night, and they would yell, ‘sockum Jochum’ when I came up to bat.” Of her time with the Blue Sox, Betsy said, “I was getting paid to play a game I love.”  After leaving the team, Betsy taught junior high for 26 years. Betsy still lives in South Bend.

  • South Bend Blue Sox, 1943-1948
  • 26-year teacher, South Bend Community School Corporation
  • Inducted into Ohio Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
  • Helped archive All-American Girls Professional Baseball League with the
  • Northern Indiana Historical Society
  • Blue Sox Uniform is in the Smithsonian
  • 1943 All Star game
  • 1944 Batting crown champion

Information compiled from All-American Girls Professional Baseball League player profile page, oral history conducted by James Smither of Grand Valley State University, “The South Bend Blue Sox:  A History of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League and its players 1943-1954