Museum of women's sports planned in Sarasota

- The women gathering in Sarasota are in a league of their own. They were the inspiration for the Hollywood version, after all.

Now, these women are making sure other female athletes are remembered and held high in history by building a first-of-its-kind women's sports museum in Sarasota.

From 1942 to 1954, women formed the All American Girls Professional Baseball League.

Sue Zipay played for the Rockford Peaches. She was a utility player, switching from right field to second base and pitcher.

"I went out to play baseball, in spite of my mom and my aunt telling me not to do it because ladies don't play baseball, but I was going to go anyhow," she said.

During World War II, many major league teams dissolved as men were drafted to fight. In turn, the Women's League started up. Games drew up to 10,000 people.

"I was just a kid and very nervous. Never had experience of playing in front of anybody like boys do in high school," said Zipay.

It was an experience she will never forget and one she hopes will never be forgotten. Zipay is one of the women working to bring a women's sports museum to Sarasota. It will pay tribute to every sport.

"I'd like to see the history of women's sports, from way back whenever up to the present day, and up to what's happened since Title 9," she said.

A spot for the museum hasn't been chosen yet. Zipay and the board are still in the beginning stages of planning and fundraising, but she's hopeful it will happen in a few years.

"The intent is that this is a living and breathing museum. Very interactive. Designed to be able to be a teaching museum as well as a history museum," said board president Mike Beaumier.

Zipay and the board envision the museum having classrooms to help women connect to jobs in the athletic field.

"It is important to see what those challenges were and what other people did to give them the ability to do what they are doing today," said Beaumier.

It's a vision Zipay hopes will soon become a reality.

"I would really like to see something happen for these ladies," she said.

Zipay and the All American Girls Professional League are hosting their 73rd reunion in Sarasota this weekend.
On Sunday, October 23, they will be signing autographs at the IMG Academy.

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