Obit of the Day: The Last of the “Bloomer Girls”
Edith Houghton had an interesting childhood. While the rest of Edith’s friends went to school, did chores around the house, or played with toys she began playing shortstop on the Philadelphia Bobbies, an all-girls professional baseball team. She was ten. (She was so small that she had to pin her hat and her pants to make them fit.)
Ms. Houghton would spend much of her childhood on the diamond playing with various all-girls teams, commonly called “Bloomer Girls.” She would play with the Bobbies for four seasons ending in 1925 with a tour of Japan versus men’s college teams when she was only 13. (Ms. Houghton and her teammates earned $800 a game during the tour.) She moved from Philadelphia to New York after her return from Asia and played six seasons with the New York Bloomer Girls. Her last known professional affiliation was with the Hollywood (CA) Girls in 1931, where she earned $35 a week.
With the Depression most Bloomer Girls teams found it hard to earn enough to continue playing. The last all-women’s team of the era disbanded in 1934. Ms. Houghton would get her baseball fill by playing professional softball.
Random note: If you visit the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY you will find Ms. Houghton’s Bobbies cap and her U.S.A. jersey from the Japan tour on display in the museum.
Following her service in the World War II as a member of the WAVES, Ms. Houghton contacted Philadelphia Phillies owner Bob Carpenter, Jr. and asked to be hired as a scout. He agreed and Ms. Houghton became the first woman to hold the position in Major League Baseball. She would scout for the Phillies from 1946-1952, signing fifteen players to contracts, none of whom would play in the majors.
Her career in baseball officially came to an end when she was called up to serve in the Korean War. She later retired from the Navy with the rank of Chief Petty Officer.
Edith Houghton died on February 2, 2013 eight days shy of her 101st birthday.
Sources: Legacy.com, Sarasota (FL) Herald Tribune, MLB.com, and San Francisco’s Exploratorium (highly recommend this link)
(Image of Ms. Houghton, circa 1922-1925, is courtesy of MLB.com and copyright Rich Westcott)
Earlier this week, Obit of the Day posted about “Pepper” Paire Davis, who was a star of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League which was an indirect descendant of the “Bloomer Girls.” The league formed in 1943 and closed in 1954.