Results tagged ‘ All-American Girls Professional Baseball League ’

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

A Little ‘Pepper’ in That Song

Wiles_90By Tim Wiles

As I mentioned in my previous blog about the late, great All-American Girls Professional Baseball League star Lavonne “Pepper” Paire Davis, her other great love, besides baseball, was writing and singing – songs and poems.

All American Girls Professional Baseball League star Pepper Paire poses for a picture with her catchers gear. (NBHOF Library)

Lavonne “Pepper” Paire Davis putting on her catching equipment (NBHOF Library)

I had called Pepper while doing some research related to the centennial of “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” back in 2008.  I knew that she was the writer behind a great parody of baseball’s anthem. Whenever several veteran players from the AAGPBL were gathered for an appearance at a ball game or a card show, they would often break into song, usually singing the league’s “Victory Song” (also written by Pepper along with fellow player Nalda Bird Phillips), and then they would go into their own version of “Take Me Out To The Ball Game.”

AAGPBL Rosters were not nearly as large as major league rosters, usually featuring anywhere from 15-18 players.  Therefore, when injury struck, the ladies either played through the pain, or, if they had to sit out, often someone else had to play out of position in order to field a team.  These were tough women.

So, her parody makes fun of what she saw as the more frail players of later generations, though she was careful to note that not all modern players are like this.  Pepper told me that Ernie Banks and Duke Snider were great fans of her version of the song, and would ask her to sing it when they ran into each other at card shows and other events.  Here’s how it goes:

Take Me Out of the Ball Game
I don’t think I can play;
I’ve got a headache and a hangnail too,
What’s more I think I’m coming down with the flu;
So please, Take me out of the ball game,
If we don’t win it’s a shame;
But I’ll still get my
One, Two, Three million or more
At the Old Ball Game.

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

Larry Yount’s unique, one-game career

By John Odell

Among the treasures of the Hall of Fame’s archives are our player files, which chronicle every player who ever entered a major league game (now numbering over 17,700). In addition, the player files also include Negro leaguers, women from the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, umpires, managers, coaches, executives, exceptional minor leaguers (like Michael Jordan) and numerous others.

We add to the archive throughout the year, creating a new file each time a player enters a major league game for the first time. But perhaps no one has a more unusual debut than Astros pitcher Larry Yount, the older brother of Hall of Famer Robin Yount.

Larry Yount, you see, debuted in a game he never played in, and then never appeared again.

Drafted by the Houston Astros in 1968, Larry Yount received his promotion to the parent club in September 1971, his fourth season in pro ball. Uncle Sam, however, had just called on him to complete a week of military service, a common occurrence during the Vietnam War era. So after a week of no baseball at all, Yount finally ended up in the Astros bullpen. Maybe the layoff had an effect, and maybe not. We will never know.

On Sept. 15, Yount’s opportunity came. With the Astros trailing Atlanta 4-1 in the top of the ninth, Houston manager Harry “The Hat” Walker called Larry’s number. It was the perfect low-pressure situation to get a rookie’s feet wet. Only 6,513 attended the Wednesday night contest. The Astros were hovering around .500, some 10 games out of the NL West race, and Atlanta was also playing out the string.

As Yount warmed up, his elbow began to stiffen, but he buckled down and reported to the mound, where he was announced as the next pitcher. The pain, however, got much worse as he took his final warm-up pitches on the mound. Not wanting to risk his career in his debut, he called in the trainer, who took him out. Both surely expected that Yount’s turn would come again soon.

It never did.

Larry Yount returned to Spring Training the next year, where he was the last player cut, then returned to the minors, where he played until 1975. However, he never made it to the Show again. He pitched OK, just not well enough to be called up. His elbow was not permanently injured. “It was a non-event, a glitch that had no factor in what followed,” Yount explained later, without excuse. “I just never quite got the job done.”

For his efforts, Yount earned the distinction of being the only pitcher in major league history to “appear” in one game, never throw a single pitch, never face a batter, and never play again. However, because he was officially announced as the pitcher, he is in baseball’s record book, and he has a file in the Hall of Fame. You can look it up… at the Hall of Fame Library.

John Odell is the curator of history and research at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Unveiling History

By Samantha Carr

Over the history of the game, ballplayers have gotten bigger and stronger, the equipment used for protection has improved and the skills that are considered important have changed.

Today, greater emphasis is put on players getting on base and driving in runs rather than walking or stealing bases like a hundred years ago. But Hall of Famer Joe Morgan doesn’t think these differences matter too much when it comes to the level of play in the major leagues.

“If you were a great player in the past, you’d be a great player today – and if you’re a great player today, you’d be a great player in the past,” he said.

Morgan visited Cooperstown Saturday along with fellow Hall of Famers Cal Ripken Jr. and Phil Niekro to celebrate the opening of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s brand new exhibit One for the Books: Baseball Records and the Stories Behind Them.

“Numbers give us something to compare players of different eras – something for players to chase,” said Morgan. “They serve as a measuring stick, but they don’t tell the whole story.”

That is true for Phil Niekro.

Niekro earned his 3,000th strikeout while with the New York Yankees on July 4, 1984. His strike-three knuckleball flew by a swinging Rangers hitter, Larry Parrish, and also by his catcher Butch Wynegar. Parrish reached base safely on a drop-third strike, but the K still counted. The cap Niekro was wearing is on display in One for the Books.

Stories like these are told in the third-floor exhibit that features more than 200 artifacts representing records in batting, home runs, pitching, base running, fielding, team records and a seventh category that includes tallest, oldest, most seasons played and records held by umpires.

“It’s all here,” said Niekro. “It blows my mind to see what the exhibit really is. To know that these guys actually did this and set these records. I don’t know if guys try to break records until they get real close to it and say: ‘Gee, I’ve really got a chance to break this.’”

The exhibit is the most technologically advanced in the Museum’s history and is the first to be funded by a wide-spread capital campaign. The majority of records that are represented are from the Major Leagues, but also celebrated are records from the minor leagues, Negro leagues, All American Girls Professional Baseball League, Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan and even Little League Baseball.

“I’m not a big record guy,” Niekro said. “But when you come and see them all like this, you really see what these guys accomplished.”

Samantha Carr is the manager of web and digital media for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Caring for history

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder

Tina Carey stood up from her chair at the Hall of Fame’s Giamatti Research Center and identified herself as the granddaughter of Max Carey.

05-26-10-Muder_CareyTina.jpgBut for anyone who knew or had seen pictures of the Hall of Fame centerfielder of the Pirates and Dodgers, no introduction was necessary.

“I’ve got his eyebrows and his chin,” said Tina, pouring over pictures of Max from the Hall of Fame’s archive. “Look how young he looks in these. My memories of him are all when he was in his 70s.”

Tina Carey came to Cooperstown on Monday from her home in Virginia, bringing with her warm memories of her famous grandfather. Tina’s father, Donald F. Carey, was one of Max’s three children – born in 1925, the year Max and his Pittsburgh Pirates won the World Series. Donald Carey passed away last year.

Tina was born in 1961 – the year Max was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

“My grandfather moved to Miami Beach right after he left baseball,” said Tina, whose famous relative retired as a player following the 1929 season before managing the Dodgers in 1932 and 1933. “I remember that in his house in Miami he had this little room plastered with all the photos and clippings from his career. I’d sit on a chair in that room and we’d watch baseball games on TV.”

05-26-10-Muder_Carey.jpgMax Carey passed away in 1976 following a career working in the dog racing industry. His big league baseball career began in 1910 with the Pirates – but was almost derailed by a higher calling.

“He was in seminary school to become an Episcopalian minister, but he just loved baseball,” Tina said. “He never made more than $16,000 a year as a ballplayer, and he lost more than $100,000 in the 1929 stock market crash. But he was very smart with his money, and very smart on the field.”

Max Carey was a fleet-footed centerfielder, stealing 738 bases (still ninth on the all-time list) while leading the National League 10 times, banging out 2,665 hits and leading the league in putouts nine times. Later, Carey managed in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League and also served as the league president.

But for Tina Carey, Max George Carey was more than a ballplayer. He was grandpa.

“He believed in fundamental baseball: Getting on base any way possible and not swinging for the fences,” Tina Carey said. “He would have been successful in anything he did. It’s wonderful to see his history here at the Hall of Fame.”

Craig Muder is director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Remembering Dottie

Carr_90.jpgBy Samantha Carr

Generally speaking, first baseman are not known for their speed. Hall of Famer Frank Chance was an exception to that rule, once stealing a league-leading 67 bases in just 125 games in 1903.

05-20-10-Carr_KamenshekMug.jpgBut All-American Girls Professional Baseball League player Dorothy Kamenshek didn’t just steal more bases, she shattered Chance’s number. Kamenshek, also known as “Dottie” or “Kammie,” stole 109 bases in 107 games in 1946.

Kamenshek passed away Monday at the age of 84. She was considered by many the greatest women’s baseball player ever.

“Kammie had no weakness,” said fellow AAGPBL player Lavone “Pepper” Paire Davis. “She hit left-handed line drives and was a complete ballplayer.”

In 10 years with the league (1943-1951, 1953), Kamenshek led the league in batting twice (1946 and 1947) and stands as the league’s all-time batting leader with a .282 lifetime average.

05-20-10-Carr_Kamenshek.jpg“I’m not one for statistics, really,” Kamenshek once said. “I never paid any attention to that. I didn’t consider myself an individual player, team victories were more important to me.”

She spent her whole career with the Rockford Peaches. She was selected to play in the All-Star Game in each of the seven seasons during her career that a game was held.

It wasn’t just women who were impressed by Kamenshek.

Yankees first baseman Wally Pipp called her “the fanciest-fielding first-baseman I’ve ever seen, man or woman” after seeing her play.

She was even offered a contract with the minor league baseball club in Fort Lauderdale in 1947. She turned down the offer because she thought it was a publicity stunt. Kamenshek led her team to four league championships and retired in 1953 after suffering back injuries.

The Baseball Hall of Fame has files of clippings and photos of Kamenshek in its collections, and her memory lives on in the Diamond Dreams exhibit on the second floor of the Museum.

Samantha Carr is the manager of web and digital media at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

An All-American education

Voss_90.jpgBy Emily Voss

Last week, a class of eighth grade students from Fort Washington, Pa., got quite a surprise when they connected with the Baseball Hall of Fame for Dirt on Their Skirts, a videoconference lesson on women’s history as part of the Museum’s education program.

If this had been a normal videoconference, the students and I would have spent about an hour discussing 150 years of women who broke barriers to play the National Pastime.

04-08-10-Voss_VideoConference.jpgBut this videoconference was different.

We reviewed female players of the 19th century, such as Alta Weiss and the Vassar College Resolutes, who played the game long before they had the right to vote. Then, as the lesson brought us into the 20th century, the students were introduced to a very special guest: Dolly Brumfield White, a player from the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.

At the age of 14, Dolly became one of the youngest players to ever join the AAGPBL when she was signed by the South Bend Blue Sox in 1947. Dolly played in the league from ’47 to 1953, not only with the Blue Sox but also with the Kenosha Comets and the Fort Wayne Daisies. She was primarily an infielder, and a tremendous threat at the plate, leading the Comets in hitting in 1951 and finishing second in the league after batting .332 for Fort Wayne in 1953.

Now living in Arkansas, Dolly was in town for the Hall of Fame’s Salute to Women in Baseball program which took place on March 27.

The students from Fort Washington, Pa., enjoyed a rare opportunity to find out about the experiences of women in baseball from someone with first-hand knowledge of the subject. Dolly is a great storyteller, and she entertained as well as informed the students with tales from her life in the AAGPBL. The students were able to ask questions of Dolly as well.

Although we can’t always promise that our education programs will include former baseball players, we draw upon our remarkable Hall of Fame resources, such as archived audio, video and still images to enhance the experiences of students who connect with us via videoconference.

The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum currently offers 15 baseball-themed curriculum units to schools nationwide through videoconference programs. The current curriculum units include mathematics, American history, leadership, labor history, fine arts, character education, cultural diversity, communication arts, economics, civil rights, pop culture, geography, industrial technology, science and – of course – women’s history.

Learn more about our programs.

Emily Voss is a school programs associate at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

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