Mary Ewing Outerbridge

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Mary Ewing Outerbridge
Born (1852-02-16)February 16, 1852
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Died May 3, 1886(1886-05-03) (aged 34)
New Brighton, New York, U.S.
Resting place
Silver Mount Cemetery, New York, U.S.
Nationality American
Known for Introducing tennis to the U.S.
Parents Alexander Ewing Outerbridge (1816–1900)
Laura Catherine Harvey (1818–1867)
Relatives Eugenius Harvey Outerbridge, brother

Mary Ewing Outerbridge (February 16, 1852 – May 3, 1886) was an American woman who imported the lawn game tennis to the United States from Bermuda.[1]

Birth and siblings[edit]

Mary was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Alexander Ewing Outerbridge (1816–1900) and Laura Catherine Harvey (1818–1867). Her siblings include: Albert Albany Outerbridge; Joseph Outerbridge; August Emelio Outerbridge (1846–January 14, 1921); Harriett Harvey Outerbridge; Alexander Ewing Outerbridge II; Laura Catharine Outerbridge; Adolph John Harvey Outerbridge (1858–May 29, 1928) and Eugenius Harvey Outerbridge, who was the first president of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.[2]

Bermuda and tennis[edit]

The modern game of lawn tennis was commercialized in 1874 in England by Major Walter Clopton Wingfield of the British Army. One of the Major's men brought the game and equipment to Bermuda when posted there in 1874. Mary played the game at "Clermont", a house with a spacious lawn in Paget parish.[3] On February 2, 1874 Mary returned from Bermuda aboard the ship "S.S. Canima" and introduced lawn tennis to the United States. She played the first tennis game in the US at the Staten Island Cricket Club on Staten Island, New York, on an hourglass-shaped court. The Staten Island Cricket Club was founded on or about March 22, 1872. One early name was “Staten Island Cricket and Baseball Club”. At the time the tennis court was set up the club was located at St. George on the “Flats” or old camp Washington Terminal. The club later moved to what is now Walker Park to make way for what is now the Staten Island ferry terminal. In 1880 the Staten Island Cricket Club held "the tournament for the championship of America". The match was won by O. E. Woodhouse of England who happened to be in New York at the time.[4]

Several other clubs held similar tournaments in the same year. In the same year tennis was also introduced in Arizona.[5][6]

Home life[edit]

In 1880 Mary and her parents were living in the Castleton area of Staten Island, New York City and her father was working as a clerk, as was her brother, Adolph. The family had two servants.[2]

Death and burial[edit]

She died in 1886 at age 34 in the New Brighton section of Staten Island and was buried in Silver Mount Cemetery, Staten Island, next to her parents.[5]

Legacy[edit]

Mary was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1981. [7]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Pollak, Michael (August 27, 2006). "Rocking the Tennis Cradle". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-07-21. "In 1874, a Staten Island resident, Mary Ewing Outerbridge, was visiting relatives in Bermuda. She encountered a recent invention of an Englishman, Maj. Walter C. Wingfield, who had adapted an ancient ball sport. The adapted game was first played at a garden party in Wales in December 1873 and had just arrived in Bermuda, where British Army officers were playing it. In early 1874 Miss Outerbridge brought back from Bermuda a net, balls and rackets, and specifications for the size of the courts. The strange gear was confiscated by customs agents. Her brother A. Emilius Outerbridge, a shipping executive, used his pull to get the gear released. He was also an officer of the Staten Island Cricket and Baseball Club in St George, and that spring, his sister set up her court there. A national tournament was played on Staten Island on September 1, 1880. The overhand serve had not been invented, and the game resembled badminton. The cricket club's remaining grounds were converted to public courts in 1931. ..." 
  2. ^ a b Outerbridges in the 1880 US Census for Staten Island
  3. ^ "Bermuda’s Place in Tennis History". Blackburne. 
  4. ^ "Lawn-tennis on Staten Island. Mr. Woodhouse, of London, Wins In The Single Games. Games Today" (PDF). The New York Times. September 4, 1880. Retrieved 2009-08-18. "The single games in the lawn-tennis tournament at Camp Washington, Staten Island, were concluded yesterday, and the handsome silver cup presented for competition by the Staten Island ..." 
  5. ^ a b "Lawn Tennis in America". The New York Times. April 28, 1931. Retrieved 2007-07-21. "In an article in American Lawn Tennis for April 20, Malcolm D. Whitman comes to the conclusion that the beginning of the game in the United States must be credited to Mary Ewing Outerbridge of ..." 
  6. ^ "Jubilee". TIME magazine. September 21, 1931. Retrieved 2007-07-21. "In 1874, a lively girl named Mary Ewing Outerbridge paid a visit to Bermuda. There British Army officers taught her a game which was becoming a polite fad in England. When she returned to the U. S., Mary Outerbridge brought with her a net suitable for minnow-fishing, several strange-looking, gut-strung bats and a rule book. She had her net pegged up on the grounds of the Staten Island Cricket & Baseball Club, set about teaching her family how to play tennis. Seven years later, when the game was being played at 33 U. S. clubs, her brother, Eugenius H. Outerbridge, helped form the U. S. Lawn Tennis Association which drafted rules and held the first national tournament at Newport, Rhode Island. The winner was a spry young Bostonian with a fierce eye and an underhand serve, Richard Dudley Sears. He too could lay claim to being one of the very first U. S. lawn tennis players. In 1874 his brother had brought a set and a rule book from England, set up the net on an hourglass shaped court on their uncle's place at Nahant, Massachusetts. ..." 
  7. ^ http://www.tennisfame.com/hall-of-famers/mary-outerbridge

External links[edit]