by Caroline Morris
Catalog Number: 2015.025.01
Next year is here, baseball fans. Pitchers and catchers reported a few weeks ago, and now the full squad is practicing at spring training camps all over the country. Too early for baseball for you? Let’s get warmed up with some softball.
Wisconsin has a proud tradition of amateur softball leagues. By the mid-20th century, softball was a regular feature summer evenings and weekends, and it was not just for kids. La Crosse boasted several softball leagues through the years, including a league organized by the American Legion for which the La Crosse Rubber Mills fielded a team. Other teams in the league included the Peerless Brewers and Al’s Snowcaps.
An unknown employee of the La Crosse Rubber Mills Company wore this uniform while playing for the Rubber Mills softball team, probably some time between the late 1940s and the 1970s. The white letters and orange trim must have popped against the black background in the waning light of a summer evening.
In the mid-twentieth century, businesses often sponsored softball or bowling teams, providing equipment and moral support for the employees who volunteered to play in their time off. Employers liked the arrangement because it provided the company with good advertising, a civic presence, and healthier employees. Employees liked it because it was fun.
This article was originally published in the La Crosse Tribune on February 27, 2016.