Barbara Gregorich grew up in a small Ohio town that bordered on both farmland and steel mills. She earned her BA from Kent State University, her MA from the University of Wisconsin, and she attended Harvard University for post-graduate work in American Studies. During this time she was active in the political struggles of the Sixties, including the antiwar movement, the civil rights movement, and the women’s liberation movement.
Playing baseball and reading mystery novels were two of her favorite pastimes in both grade school and high school, surpassed only by her passion for writing. Although Barbara worked as a college instructor for five years, at Kent State University and Cuyahoga Community College, she always knew that some day she would work as a writer.
Once she was certain she would turn to writing as full-time work, she debated what to write first: a baseball novel, or a mystery novel. She chose the former, and She’s on First was published in 1976, receiving much acclaim for the author’s understanding of and feel for baseball. In promoting this fictional work about the first woman to play in Major League Baseball (shortstop for the also-fictitious Chicago Eagles), Barbara began to wonder whether women had actually played baseball in fact, as well as in fiction.
In 1988 (before the days of the internet) she began researching the history of women playing hardball. She used the then-existent research tools of the library card catalog; the Readers Guide to Periodical Literature; newspaper indexes; lists of Masters and Ph.D. theses; library files on local people; interviews; and cemetery records. Four years later she received a contract for Women at Play: The Story of Women in Baseball from Harcourt Publishing. The contract gave her exactly 92 days to write the book. And when that was done she had three weeks in which to gather and document 100 photos.
Women at Play was published in 1993, receiving a boxed review in the Sunday New York Times. It was awarded the SABR-MacMillan Award for best baseball research of the year. In 2017 Women at Play was brought back to popular attention when Francis Ford Coppola (in a NY Times Book Review), asked the question of which book readers would be surprised to find on his shelf, answered: "Women at Play: The Story of Women in Baseball, by Barbara Gregorich.”
While writing baseball novels and nonfiction, Barbara also worked as a freelance educational writer and editor, creating more than 100 activity books for various publishers; writing a series of Start to Read books for School Zone Publishing; writing early readers (Waltur Buys a Pig in a Poke and Waltur Paints Himself into a Corner) for Houghton; and writing BrainQuest cards and workbooks for Workman Publishing.
And at the same time she was doing that, she self-published ten books. These include the reprint of She’s on First; a free verse nonfiction baseball book, Jack and Larry: Jack Graney and Larry, the Cleveland Baseball Dog; three collections of her research notes, Research Notes for Women at Play, Volumes 1, 2, and 3; a reprint of Dirty Proof, her first mystery novel; and the publication of its sequel, Sound Proof. Her two most popular self-published titles are Guide to Writing the Mystery Novel: Lots of Examples, Plus Dead Bodies; and the biography, Charlie Chan’s Poppa: Earl Derr Biggers.
In addition to all these, Barbara teaches writing and gives public presentations on topics that interest her . . . some of them related to her books, others not. For her presentation When Women Played Baseball: The Story of Margaret, Nellie, and Rose she was selected as an Illinois Humanities Road Scholar. Another of her other highly popular presentations is Mountain Passes in American History.
Although Barbara had written beginning readers, early readers, and activity books for grades K-12, she had never written a YA novel before. In 2017, while on a pro-immigrant rights rally in Chicago, she was seized with the desire to write her first YA novel. That novel, The F Words, was completed in 2018 and published by City of Light Publishing in 2021. Besides being a novel in which the young male protagonist writes poetry, The F Words is political fiction for teens. Exit Velocity, Barbara's most recent novel, is a combination of political fiction and science fiction for adults.