By Jean Lotus
Women's softball fans will get a nostalgic boost at the Chicago Bandits National Pro Fastpitch Softball game Saturday when players wear the vintage uniforms of Forest Park's Parichy Bloomer Girls.
Tickets are already sold out for the vintage throwback game to be held in Rosemont on the Bandits home turf Ballpark at Balmoral and Pearl Streets. The Chicago Bandits will play the USSSA Pride team, based in Florida.
With help from the Historical Society of Forest Park, the Bandits recreated the vintage team uniforms: long knee socks, linen jerseys over long-sleeves and shorts. The Bloomer Girls also wore satin jerseys during night games to better reflect the light.
The Bloomer Girls were part of the Chicago-centered National Girls Baseball League, who played at their own Parichy stadium in Forest Park and across the region between 1934 and 1955.
Stars of the league included Lois Roberts Strenkowski (who always played barefoot) and pitcher Wilda Mae Turner. Emery Parichy, who owned a local roofing company, purchased the Chicago/Vogel's Bloomer Girls team in the late 30s from owner Edward Bumgardner, who founded the team in 1924. Parichy brought the team to Forest Park. During World War II, while male baseball players were scarce, the women became part of a baseball league. The Bloomer Girls competed with the other teams the Music Maids, the Rockola Chicks and the Match Corp. Queens. The league drew 500,000 fans at three regional Chicago stadiums.
Documentary filmmaker Adam A. Chu researched the Bloomer Girls uniforms while working at the historical society and as an intern for the Bandits. Chu is creating a film based on the National Girls Baseball League.
Two years ago, the Chicago Bandits played a vintage uniform game wearing the emblems of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League Chicago Colleens.
This article has been updated to correct Emery Parichy's line of work and correct Chu's first name.