Edith Houghton, 1946
February 10, 1912|
|Died||February 2, 2013
|Team||Philadelphia Bobbies, Hollywood Girls, New York Bloomer Girls|
|Updated on 13 April 2016.|
Edith Grace Houghton (February 10, 1912 – February 2, 2013) was an American professional baseball player and scout. A former shortstop in women's baseball whose professional career began when she was ten years old, Houghton became the first female scout in Major League Baseball when she joined the talent-spotting staff of the Philadelphia Phillies of the National League in 1946. She served in that role until 1952, when she returned to active service in the United States Navy. She had joined the WAVES during World War II.
Houghton was a native of the North Philadelphia neighborhood at 25th and Diamond Streets in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Around 1917, Edith moved with her parents and nine older brothers and sisters to their brand-new house at 25th and Diamond. Directly across Diamond Street there was a large park with a baseball diamond. When the diamond was free, the kids in the neighborhood would start a game of baseball. The first position Edith played was shortstop. Edith’s father, William L. Houghton, distributed goods for a large grocery company. He was also a skilled baseball player who taught his youngest daughter many techniques. As young as age 6, Edith posed for photos in a baseball uniform. By the time she was 8, she dressed as the mascot for the Philadelphia police’s baseball team. Family, friends, and fans dubbed Edith “The Kid.”
Too young to join a factory team, 10-year-old Edith tried out for the semi-pro Philadelphia Bobbies team for non-working girls in 1922. She bobbed her hair like the rest of the players and quickly became the star. Her fielding and batting skills drew the attention of fans and reporters, as did her youth. Edith was the youngest on a team made up of mostly teenage girls. The Bobbies practiced in Fairmount Park, where Edith was a standout athlete and baseball player.
In 1925, she and the team made a trip to Japan to play all-male college and semi-pro teams. Houghton was age 13. On September 23, 1925, they boarded a train at the North Broad Street Station, several blocks from Edith’s house. Twelve Bobbies, their coach, and two men (to play pitcher and catcher) played eight games on their way to Seattle, en route to Yokohama, Japan. Once in Japan, they drew large crowds, especially at first. Edith impressed many Japanese reporters. Although they were contracted to play fifteen games for $800, their finances fell through midway through the trip. Half the team headed to Formosa and back to the United States. The other half, including Edith, stayed in Kobe and luckily found a contributor to fund their trip home by December.
Houghton briefly attended the new Simon Gratz High School, which had many sports that she wanted to play. After 6 months, however, she went to Philadelphia High School for Girls (Girls’ High), on Spring Garden Street.
Edith went on to play for semi-pro baseball teams until she started softball in the 1930s. At that point women were pushed out of baseball into softball. Houghton later played with other women's pro teams such as the Hollywood Girls and the New York Bloomer Girls. In 1942, during World War II, Edith volunteered for the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Services). Although nominally a clerk, she was accepted into the department's baseball team. The Navy newsletter wrote that "enlisted WAVE Houghton... can make any ball team in the country."
After the war, she took her skills to a new level. She approached Phillies’ owner R. R. M. Carpenter, Jr. in 1946 asking for an interview. She met with Carpenter and General Manager Herb Pennock. Soon the Phillies made national news: They hired Edith Houghton as Major League Baseball’s first female scout. From 1946 to 1952, Edith scouted players and signed fifteen to contracts, mostly from Philadelphia-area high schools.
|“Female Baseball Scout Turns 100”, SNN6|
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- Selby, Shawn (2011). "Edith Houghton". In Sandoval, Jim; Nowlin, Bill. Can he play? : a look at baseball scouts and their profession. Phoenix, AZ: Society for American Baseball Research. pp. 64–65. ISBN 978-1-933599-25-0. Retrieved 19 April 2016.
- Edelson, Paula (2002). A to Z of American women in sports. New York: Facts on File. pp. 115–117. ISBN 9780816045655. Retrieved 19 April 2016.
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