Lizzie Murphy

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Lizzie Murphy, 1920

Mary Elizabeth Murphy (April 13, 1894 – July 27, 1964), known as "The Queen of Baseball", was the first woman to play professional baseball, competing with male athletes in 1922. She played baseball for seventeen years as a first baseman; she also played on several all-star teams and was the first person of either sex to play on both American and National league baseball teams.[1]

Early life[edit]

Murphy was born April 13, 1894 probably in Warren, Rhode Island,[2][3] though some sources indicate that she was born in Canada.[4] Her parents were Mary (née Garan) and John Murphy;[5] her father was a mill hand and also a semi-pro baseball player. Lizzie was athletic and was a runner, skater, and swimmer, besides playing baseball. By age 12, she had quit school and gone to work at the Parker Woolen Mill as a ring spinner. In her spare time, she played baseball with the Warren Silk Hats and the Warren Baseball Club.[6] By age 15, she was playing on the local men's business amateur league teams, such as the Warren Shoe Company.[7]


By the age of 17, Murphy was playing professionally and demanding to be paid when she played. She first signed with the Providence Independents and then [7] in 1918 she signed with Ed Carr's Traveling All-Stars, a semi-professional team out of Boston.[8] Carr's was a barnstorming team which traveled throughout Canada and New England playing up to 100 games a year.[6] She also played in the women's leagues, playing for the Bloomer Girls for 30 years.[8] When she began her professional career, she was a pitcher,[9] but she was also known as a hitter. Her career average upon retirement was .300.[6]

Queen of Baseball[edit]

Murphy was keen on self-promotion, selling photographs of herself between innings. She billed herself as the "Queen of Baseball" but was known as Spike Murphy.[6] Newspapers recognized her skill and rather than bill her as a woman player on the team, she was called by name, as a publicity draw in headlines like, "Lizzie Murphy in Game",[5] "Tyler Will Hurl Against Lizzie Murphys Tomorrow",[10] and "'Spike' Murphy, Woman Baseball Wizard, Learned Game Throwing Stones---'Ty' and 'Babe' Better Beware if "Liz" Breaks Into Game".[9]

Murphy usually played first base and made history in 1922 as the first female player to play against major league players. The game was a charity exhibition pitting all-star players from the New England and American Leagues against the Boston Red Sox.[5][11] It was organized at Fenway Park to raise money for the family of Tommy McCarthy, who had recently died. McCarthy would later be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.[6] She came into the game in the fourth inning and scored an out at first base from a throw by third baseman Harvey McClellan.[5] Six years later, Murphy played in a National League All-Star game against the Boston Braves and she played in a Negro League game against one of the greatest pitchers in the Negro League Satchel Paige. During the game Murphy was able to get a base hit and after the game Satchel was asked if he had pitched more gently because she was a lady. Josh Gibson the (catcher) refuted the claim, stating Page had treated her the same as any other player.[11] In addition to playing against the negro league, Murphy played for them. When the Cleveland Giants toured in Rhode Island, she played first base for them, becoming the first female to play in that league as well.[7]


Murphy retired in 1935, went back home to Warren, and then married[3] Walter Larivee in 1937.[5] When her husband died a few years later, Murphy went back to work in the woolen mills and worked on oyster boats. She died on July 27, 1964.[3] Murphy was inducted into the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame in 1994.[7]


  1. ^ The first person to play for both baseball's National League and American League All-Star teams was a woman: Lizzie "Queen of baseball" Murphy
  2. ^ "Murphy, Lizzie (1894–1964)". Encyclopedia. Cengage Learning. Retrieved 12 May 2016.
  3. ^ a b c Dreifort, John E. Baseball History from Outside the Lines: A Reader. Lincoln Nebraska: U of Nebraska Press. p. 28. ISBN 0-8032-6665-0.
  4. ^ "Corn Cobs Play Fast Road Team". North Adams, Massachusetts: North Adams Transcript. June 26, 1926. p. 11. Retrieved 12 May 2016 – via open access
  5. ^ a b c d e Mills, Dorthy Jane (2016). "Murphy, Elizabeth "Lizzie"". In Heaphy, Leslie A.; May, Mel Anthony (eds.). Encyclopedia of Women and Baseball. Jefferrson, North Carolina: McFarland. pp. 201–203. ISBN 978-1-4766-6594-8.
  6. ^ a b c d e "Rhode Island's Lizzie Murphy: First Woman to Play Major League Baseball". Boston, Massachusetts: New England Historical Society. August 4, 2014. Retrieved 12 May 2016.
  7. ^ a b c d "Elizabeth " Lizzie" Murphy". Riverside, Rhode Island: Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame. 1994. Archived from the original on December 28, 2015. Retrieved 12 May 2016.
  8. ^ a b Ardell, Jean Hastings (2005). Breaking Into Baseball: Women and the National Pastime. Carbondale, Illinois: SIU Press. pp. 106, 232. ISBN 978-0-8093-2627-3.
  9. ^ a b ""Spike" Murphy, Woman Baseball Wizard, Learned Game Throwing Stones---"Ty" and "Babe" Better Beware if "Liz" Breaks Into Game". Boston, Massachusetts: Boston Post. August 1, 1920. p. 36. Retrieved 12 May 2016 – via open access
  10. ^ "Tyler Will Hurl Against Lizzie Murphys Tomorrow". Fitchburg, Massachusetts: Fitchburg Sentinel. August 12, 1922. p. 8. Retrieved 12 May 2016 – via open access
  11. ^ a b Steverson, Bryan (2014). Baseball: A Special Gift from God. Bloomington, Indiana: WestBow Press. p. 114. ISBN 978-1-4908-5297-3.