Remembering Edith Houghton

Wiles_90By Tim Wiles

“I guess I was born with a baseball in my hand or something,”  said Edith Houghton.  “I enjoyed it more than anything.”

Edith, who died on Feb. 2, just eight days shy of her 101st birthday, lived a baseball life that would be the envy of many men. Not only did she scout for the Philadelphia Phillies beginning just after World War II, but she was a professional baseball player too.

Edith Houghton generously donated artifacts from her collection that are now on display in the Museum's Diamond Dreams exhibit. (NBHOF Museum)

Edith Houghton generously donated artifacts from her collection that are now on display in the Museum’s Diamond Dreams exhibit. (NBHOF Library)

 

Edith Houghton generously donated several artifacts from her baseball career to the Hall of Fame – many of which are on display in the Museum’s Diamond Dreams exhibit. (Craig Muder/NBHOF Library)At the tender age of 10, Edith, a natural athlete, joined the Philadelphia Bobbies, a young women’s baseball team named after their fashionable 1920s haircuts, as their shortstop, in 1922.

In 1925, the Bobbies embarked on an amazing cross-cultural baseball journey, touring Japan and playing against men’s college baseball teams.

Upon her return to the States, Edith joined first the New York Bloomer Girls and later the Hollywood Girls, two leading women’s baseball teams of the pre-AAGPBL era.  The teams toured the country playing against local men’s teams.

During World War II, Edith served in the Navy and reportedly played for the WAVES women’s baseball team, a fascinating chapter in the history of women in baseball about which little is known today.

Upon her return from the war, she approached Phillies owner Bob Carpenter and asked to become a scout.  After leafing through Edith’s remarkable scrapbook, Carpenter hired her, and she signed a number of players for the Phils, though none ended up making the major leagues.

I have had the privilege of leafing through that amazing scrapbook, as Hall of Fame Photo Archivist Pat Kelly and I had the chance to meet Edith in her Sarasota, Fla., home during the summer of 2000.  We were in West Palm Beach for the annual SABR convention, and we drove across the state to meet and conduct an oral history interview with Edith.  She was charming, gracious, and still in love with the game.

Edith donated several artifacts from her career to the Hall of Fame.  In our Diamond Dreams exhibit, visitors can see her Bobbies cap, her jersey from the Japanese tour, with U.S.A.  across the front, along with her belt.

Tim Wiles is the director of research for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

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