January 18, 2020

Two New Baseball-themed Exhibits in Simpson Library

UMW Reference and Humanities Librarian Jack Bales has written a new book, "Before They Were the Cubs: The Early Years of Chicago’s First Professional Baseball Team." Photo by Karen Pearlman.

UMW Reference and Humanities Librarian Jack Bales has written a new book, “Before They Were the Cubs: The Early Years of Chicago’s First Professional Baseball Team.” Photo by Karen Pearlman.

The next time you’re walking along Campus Walk, stop by Simpson Library and enjoy the two new exhibits on the first floor, arranged by Reference Librarian Jack Bales and Convergence Gallery Supervisor/Serials Assistant Tammy Hefner.

One of them features photographs and baseball history from Bales’ new book, Before They Were the Cubs: The Early Years of Chicago’s First Professional Baseball Team (McFarland, 2019).

The other exhibit focuses on the strange story of jilted lover Violet Popovich, who in June 1932 made headlines after she shot her Chicago Cub boyfriend, Billy Jurges. Violet’s wound was superficial, and she was booked on a charge of attempted murder. Billy recovered, and in a few weeks he was back on the baseball field. Although he refused to sign a complaint, Violet signed a singing contract with a local burlesque theater, billing herself as Violet Valli, “The Girl Who Shot for Love.” Preceding her on stage were the theater’s “Bare Cub Girls.”

Violet Valli adThe photographs and detailed narrative are based on Bales’ research and his award-winning article, “The Show Girl and the Shortstop: The Strange Saga of Violet Popovich and Her Shooting of Cub Billy Jurges” (Baseball Research Journal, fall 2016). “It’s an incredible story,” Bales said in a recent interview. “We’re talking attempted murder, stolen love letters, blackmail, a burlesque show, sex, and, of course, baseball. What else is there?”