Features appear in each issue of Pennsylvania Heritage showcasing a variety of subjects from various periods and geographic locations in Pennsylvania.

Named after their uniforms, but having no home field on which to play, the Reds and the Blues traveled between Philadelphia and New York City, playing baseball before curious crowds who had turned out to witness the droll spectacle of women at the national pastime. The year was 1883 and the two teams represented the tail end of a popular but short-lived trend in spectator sport: unskilled women playing baseball before fans who for the mere price of a ticket could howl with laugh­ter at the absurdity of it all.

The fad had begun in Illinois. According to the New York Clipper, “the first game of baseball ever played in public for gate money between feminine ball-tossers took place in Springfield” on Saturday, September 11, 1875, where three male promoters fielded the Blondes and the Brunettes.

Like those of the Blondes and Brunettes, the games of the Reds and Blues were widely advertised and avidly reported by the press. An August l 883 game between the Reds and Blues took place at Philadelphia’s Pastime Park, with sixteen women and two men making up the teams. Following the game, the New York Times, obviously more interested in the women’s garb than in their performance, reported that “the players were modestly dressed, and their skirts reached to their knees. One side wore dresses of white, with blue rimmings and stockings of a light red color, while the other had blue stockings. All wore jaunty little white cloth hats and baseball shoes of the regula­tion style …. ” Playing nine innings on a regulation diamond, the Reds won, 34-26. Both teams had been practic­ing only ten days.

Playing a month later in New York on a half-size diamond, the teams performed even worse. After five long innings the game was called because of darkness, with the score 54-22, in favor of the Reds. A baseball game in which the score stands 54-22 at the end of five innings is an exhibit of wretched skills. However, wretched playing by women excited the public, and spectators came precisely because the playing was pitiful. Within a few years, however, the laughter turned to yawns as the novelty of watching bad baseball faded. When two women’s teams toured New Orleans in January 1885, the Picayune reported very small turnouts: “However it be the New Orleans public do not seem to take kindly to female nines who cannot play ball, and the venture here has so far proved a failure.” Would the Ameri­can public ever get to see talented female athletes play real ball? Yes, before the close of the nineteenth century, throngs would thrill to the sight of women playing baseball ably, and Pennsyl­vania’s spectators would see the first woman to play in the minor leagues.

The women who played the game professionally held their own against men’s teams, pitching shutouts, knocking out singles and doubles, and stealing bases. They were called Bloomer Girls. Named after their bloomer costumes, these sexually integrated teams – usually six or seven women and two or three men – barnstormed the country from Maine to Oregon, challenging all-male teams. Among the first bloomer teams were those of A. P. Gibbs, who trained his players in Wapakoneta, Ohio, as early as 1892.

While Gibbs and his “Young Ladies Base Ball Clubs” were learning how to play the game and the ways in which to promote it, some­thing quite different was happening in Pennsylvania, where in Mahanoy City, Schuylkill County, young Elizabeth Stride grew up playing baseball with her father and brothers. Lizzie was good with the bat, but even better on the mound.

Northeastern Pennsyl­vania’s hardscrabble anthracite region has turned out many fine ballplayers. A coal seam to the west of Stride’s hometown lay Shamokin, birthplace of Hall-of-Fame pitcher Stan Coveleski. Even closer was Ashland, home of nineteenth century pitcher Jack Stivetts. Entering the majors with St. Louis, Stivetts won twenty­-seven games in 1890 and thirty-three the following year. In 1892, he jumped to Boston, hurling thirty-five victories for the Beaneaters. When he wasn’t pitching, Stivetts often played the outfield, winning games with late-inning blasts. According to all accounts, it was Jack Stivetts who helped Lizzie Stride hone her pitching skills. Sports and theater promoter Capt. William J. Conner heard of Stride’s ability, went to see her play and, as reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer, hired her immediately for one hundred dollars a week!

The twenty-two year old Stride adopted the name of Arlington, by which she became known throughout the world of baseball. The first team for which Lizzie Arling­ton pitched for pay was the professional Philadelphia Reserves and the game was against the amateur Rich­mond Club, also of Philadelphia. In her debut, she went four innings, giving up six hits and three unearned runs. At bat, she collected two hits off Mike Kilroy, a former major league pitcher. After pitching four innings, Arlington played second base as the Reserves walloped the Richmond Club, 18-5.

Captain Conner next arranged with Edward Grant Barrow, president of the Atlantic League (and later chief executive of the New York Yankees), for Arlington to pitch in minor league games. On Tuesday, July 5, 1898, she played in a regulation minor league game for Reading against Allentown, which the Reading Eagle covered.

Miss Arlington with several other persons drove on the grounds in a stylish carriage drawn by two white horses. To the applause that greeted her she lifted her cap. The spectators be­held a plump young woman with attractive face and rosy cheeks. She wore a gray uniform with skirt coming to the knees, black stockings and a jaunty cap ….

She practiced with Reading and played 2nd base. She made several stops, but the very hot “daisy-cutters” she left to Ulrich. She made several neat throws. She went about it like a profes­sional, even down to expectorat­ing on her hands and wiping her hands on her uniform. Miss Arlington was put in in the 9th when Reading was 5 tallies to the good. Joe Delahanty, the first batter to face her, fouled to Heydon. Lyons shoved a little grounder to the female twirler, who threw him out at 1st. Seagrave and Jim Delahanty made safe cracks and Boyle walked. With the bases full, Cleve gave Newell a foul. “Good for Lizzie,” shrieked the crowd.

In his 1951 autobiography, My Fifty Years in Baseball, Barrow remembered that Arlington “had a really good windup and delivery …. She was fairly effective for about five or six innings, but wasn’t strong enough to last a full game.” He recalled that she played in Paterson and Newark, New Jersey, Wilmington, Delaware, and Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in what were most likely exhibi­tion games. The only regulation minor league game in which she played appears to have been the Reading­-Allentown match. The fan interest that Barrow had been anticipating failed to material­ize during the economically bleak years of 1898 and 1899, and Lizzie Arlington was let go.

A half century later, when a minor league team, the Harrisburg Senators, made news by signing Eleanor Engle as a shortstop in 1952, the octogenarian Edward Grant Barrow again recalled Arling­ton. “I admit that I signed Lizzie strictly as a stunt,” he said. “But I’m not so sure she couldn’t win a spot some­where in organized ball if she were in her prime today.” After her brief stay in the minors, Arlington went on to play with A. P. Gibbs’ Bloomer Girl team.

By the late 1890s bloomer teams were popping up throughout the country. There were the Boston Bloomer Girls, Chicago Bloomer Girls, Star Bloomers, and All-Star Bloomers, as well as the Texas, Tennessee, and St. Louis Bloomer Girls. Maud Nelson, the most famous bloomer, attracted attention from Maine to Oregon by striking out male players and collecting hits off male pitchers. Beginning her career as a pitcher in 1897 at the age of sixteen, Nelson eventually became a team manager and owner. She fielded the Western Bloomer Girls of Michigan in 1911 and Chicago’s All Star Ranger Girls during the 1920s and 1930s. The Chicago team barn­stormed frequently through the Keystone State.

Second to Nelson was Margaret Nabel, who was associated with the New York Bloomer Girls for twenty years. Founded in 1914 by veteran Staten Island ballplayers, the New York Bloomer Girls were a late arrival. Just out of high school, Nabel joined the team, and by 1920 had become its manager. Almost single-handedly, she built the Staten Islanders into a preeminent team. Under Nabel’s leadership, the New York Bloomer Girls played games from Nova Scotia to Florida. So good were these players that it became the ambition of many teams “to beat Margaret Nabel and the New York Bloomer Girls.” Like Nelson, Nabel actively recruited good female baseball players, offering them an opportunity to play baseball, to travel, and to earn money. Among those who played with Nabel at various times were Mary Gilroy and Edith Houghton, both of Philadelphia.

Unlike most bloomer managers, Nabel loved to challenge women’s teams, and she seems to have had a special ambition to beat every Philadelphia team. During the teens and twenties, the city was home to a number of women’s teams, most of which were sponsored by factories and civic organizations. Companies used team spon­sorship to advertise their products, as well as to boost employee morale. Along the Eastern Seaboard, in upstate New York, and throughout New England, as well as in such midwestern cities as Cleveland and Chicago, factory teams flourished. In many cases the women played lunch-hour games that drew hundreds of fans. In all cases, they played competitive hardball: hitting, bunting, stealing, and sliding. The women’s baseball organiza­tions Nabel initially challenged were factory teams and athletic club teams.

Born in Philadelphia on January 18, 1903, the first year of the modern World Series, Mary Gilroy became a factory ballplayer. Her father worked for a sugar refinery; her mother raised eleven children. Mary had seven brothers and three sisters. Six of her brothers played baseball. So did she. “There wasn’t much else to do with six brothers,” she said recently. Her entire family enjoyed sports. “Dad took all us kids to the game a lot.”

At the age of twelve, Mary Gilroy went to work and, in 1918, at fifteen, she got a job at Fleisher’s, a yam manufac­turer, where she operated the balling machine, turning shapeless loops into usable balls. Fleisher’s sponsored both a men’s and a women’s baseball team. Gilroy tried out for and made the Fleisher Bloomer Girls. A first base­man, she was nicknamed “Scoops” for her plays. Her sister, Catherine Dacey, was the team’s pitcher. At first the Bloomer Girls wore bloomers and white sailor blouses, but not much later the company provided them with regular baseball uniforms. When asked if the Fleisher Bloomer Girls played modified baseball, Mary remains quite emphatic. “This was hardball, on regulation fields. Women and men played by the same rules.”

From 1918 through 1921, Mary was a Fleisher Bloomer Girl. “I played two or three games a week. It was twilight ball, at five-thirty or six o’clock, after work.” A good hitter, she usually batted third or fourth. The team, and “Scoops” Gilroy with it, received much newspaper coverage – so much that early in 1922 she received a letter from Maud Nelson of Chicago, asking her if she would be interested in touring with a women’s baseball team.

In January 1922, standing five feet, seven inches tall, and weighing one hundred and nineteen pounds, Mary “Scoops” Gilroy was nineteen years old. She was an ordinary woman with a wonderful, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity before her. But her father thought otherwise. The idea of his daughter leaving to play for a team that barnstormed throughout the country was shocking and he declared Mary too young to leave home. Her mother intervened, however, and her father eventually relented. Gilroy boarded the train bound for New Orleans to join the Chicago All-Star Athletic Girls.

The Chicago All-Star Athletic Girls trained at Pelican Field, the winter training grounds of the New York Yankees. “The Yankees had the field from ten o’clock until noon,” Gilroy remem­bers, “then we had it from twelve until two, then they got it again at two o’clock.” During practice one day Babe Ruth approached the women’s team. “All right,” he demanded, “who’s the heavy hitter here?” The women players all pointed at Mary. “The Bambino” posed with his arm around Mary’s shoulders for a photograph which appeared in the local newspaper.

The barnstorming All-Stars, whose pitcher and catcher were men, had planned on traveling west through Texas to California. But Texas proved much too wet for baseball that spring, and Nelson changed the team’s route and headed east. “We played the East Coast all summer, ” Mary reminisces, “Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Jacksonville, Pensacola.” In true bloomer tradition, the All-Star Athletic Girls challenged men’s teams. “Men were nasty,” she remembers. “They couldn’t take women beating them. They didn’t like it.” When the season ended, she returned to Philadel­phia, happy to have traveled, but happier still to have come home.

The following year Mary Gilroy married William Hockenbury, whom she had met when he played for Fleisher’s men’s baseball team. Bill, a pitcher, had been signed by the Philadelphia Athletics and moved to Charlottesville to play Class A ball. Living conditions were poor and Bill grew steadily homesick; after one year he returned to Philadelphia, where, ironi­cally, he made more money playing sandlot baseball than he had in the minor leagues. Mary and Bill Hockenbury had seven children: five boys and two girls. They named the first born William Edward Hockenbury. “Young Bill had a ball with him from the day he was born,” says Mary. “He had a ball in his cradle, in his crib, in his hands.” The Hockenburys played baseball with their children, and all were active in sports. Three of the boys – Bill, Jim, and Tom – went on to play in the minor leagues.

Having children never stopped Mary Gilroy Hockenbury from playing ball. “The family ate and slept baseball. We’d get up from the dinner table and go to the ball game.” When barnstorming teams, such as the House of David or the New York Bloomer Girls, came to Philadelphia, Mary was called on to play against – or, sometimes, for – them.

Gilroy played baseball with the Philadelphia Girls Athletic Club in 1923, the year Marga­ret Nabel challenged the club to a three game series to decide “the female champion­ship of the east.” In early September the first game was played on neutral territory at Brooklyn’s Howard Field. Two thousand fans turned out to watch Nabel’s team rout Gilroy’s club, 21-13. According to the Staten Island Advance, “Florrie O’Rourke and Toots Andres starred for the victors, while Mary Gilroy and Ada Jaggers showed up well for the Quakertown lassies.” The New York Bloomer Girls won the series handily.

While young women such as Mary Gilroy had an opportunity to play company baseball, not all girls and young women worked in factories, and not all could readily join and play for an athletic club, circumstances which may have prompted Philadelphia resident Mary O’Gara to form her own bloomer team, the Philadel­phia Bobbies, in 1922. So named because the players bobbed their hair, the Philadel­phia Bobbies consisted of young women from Philadel­phia neighborhoods and surrounding areas, including Edith Ruth, Nettie Gans, Loretta Jester, Alma Nolan, Jennie Phillips, Ferba Garnett, Agnes Curran, and Edith Houghton. The average age of the Bobbies was young – per­haps sixteen as compared with the New York Bloomer Girls, whose average age was at least twenty-four. O’Gara scheduled many of the team’s games against other women’s teams.

During their first season, the Philadelphia Bobbies played with a ten year old shortstop, Philadelphia phenomenon Edith Houghton. Facing the Tinicum Bloomer Girls in Baltimore in July 1922, the Bobbies met defeat, 24-11, before six thousand fans, but the newspaper writers praised Houghton. In Lancaster, the Bobbies played against a men’s team, the Lancaster Indians. Batting left-handed, the Indians amassed twenty hits, a great many of them for extra bases, and won – by two points, 17-15 – at the end of seven innings. Calling the game a farce, reporters were, nevertheless, impressed with the Bobbies’ shortstop. “Little Miss Houghton, the 10-year­-old phenom, covered plenty of ground at shortstop for the visitors and made herself a favorite with the fans by her splendid fielding and ability at the bat.”

Margaret Nabel and the New York Bloomer Girls regularly toured Canada, particularly Quebec and Prince Edward Island, and Maud Nelson toured Ontario and western provinces, as well as the Caribbean. But Mary O’Gara and the Philadel­phia Bobbies made a name for themselves by touring Japan.

“Bobbies All Set for Oriental Tour,” announced newspaper headlines, reporting that O’Gara and the team would take a train from Philadelphia to Seattle, and play eight games against men’s clubs along the way. On Wednesday, September 23, 1925, O’Gara and twelve Bobbies, with thirteen-year-old Edith Houghton among them, departed for the Pacific Northwest. En route the Bobbies played against teams in Fargo, North Dakota, on Friday and Saturday, Septem­ber 25-26. On Sunday they reached Great Falls, Montana, but a heavy snowfall caused promoters to cancel a sched­uled game. Nettie Gans kept a diary during the trip and in 1988, when the National Baseball Hall of Fame opened an exhibit on women in baseball, donated a transcript to the Cooperstown, New York, institution. Gans, the Bobbies’ left fielder, recorded that the game in White Fish, Montana, was played in extremely cold weather. By Monday, September 29, the team arrived in Spokane, Washington, where more bad weather forced the cancellation of that day’s game. The following day Gans wrote, “Agnes pitched a wonderful game today and hit a three bagger!!!”

On Saturday, October 3, the Bobbies played a men’s team in Everett, losing 11-7. “Well, that’s a1J in the game,” wrote the young left fielder, who also took the results of the team’s October 5 game somewhat philosophically. “We played the Seattle Team today. 1 was spiked, kicked in the mouth, and two bruised fingers. We got our new white suits today. We are going on board ship tomorrow.”

In Seattle, Mary O’Gara had arranged to meet with Eddie Ainsmith, former Washington Senators catcher, and Earl Hamilton, former Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher, and their wives. The ex-major league players would tour with the Bobbies in Japan, serving as the team’s battery. Until Seattle, the Bobbies had never met Ainsmith and Hamilton. Ainsmith, a burly veteran of twenty-one years in the big leagues, was more than likely surprised when he learned the Bobbies’ shortstop was “The Kid.”

In baseball, the affectionate nickname “Kid” has been bestowed on many young players: Kid Gleason, Kid Elberfeld, and “The Kid,” Ted Williams. But thirteen-year­-old Edith Houghton was a real kid “Kid,” and Ainsmith must have, at the very least, wondered what would happen when he fired a ball down to second base to cut off a runner. Would the ball blaze right through her? Ainsmith probably assumed young Houghton would flinch from the throw, for he offered her bribery: a Japanese yen for every one of his throws that she caught. The Kid shrugged and agreed. “He sure could fire them down there,” she remembers. But Houghton could handle them. “I took him for plenty of yen,” she laughs.

On Sunday, October 18, the Philadelphia Bobbies arrived in Yokohama, where friendly and curious crowds greeted them. While the games between the Bobbies and various men’s university teams attracted tens of thousands of spectators, the Bobbies, even with Ainsmith and Hamilton, did not enjoy the same status as the New York Bloomer Girls or the Chicago All Star Ranger Girls. Of thirteen games, the Bobbies won only two and tied one. To make matters even worse, the Bobbies’ promoters wriggled out of their deal without paying O’Gara, leaving the entire entourage stranded in Kobe. Eventually a hotel owner took pity on the team and gave O’Gara enough money to return to America. The following season, team­mates went their separate ways and the dub disbanded. A few years later Mary O’Gara revived the Bobbies, who continued to barnstorm in the bloomer tradition, but now much closer to home.

Despite the Philadelphia Bobbies’ defeats and their harrowing experience in Japan, the team could boast of Edith Houghton, who was probably better than any player the New York Bloomer Girls had seen. The youngest of ten children, Houghton grew up playing baseball and lived in a large house across the street from a ballpark. “You could see the diamond from my parents’ window,” she reminisces. “It was a sight to see.”

At the age of six, The Kid was playing hardball. Two years later she was the official mascot of the Philadelphia Police Baseball Team. Dressed in a pint-sized baseball uniform, a bat resting confi­dently on her shoulder, The Kid led the police team as it paraded across the field. At the age of nine, Houghton began giving hitting, fielding, and throwing demonstrations before games. And at the age of ten she won the key infield position with the Bobbies.

In Japan, Houghton often drew great applause for her hitting and fielding. On one occasion she drew cheers and laughter for pulling the old hidden ball trick, which the November 7, 1925, edition of The Japan Advertiser did not fail to mention.

That slip of a girl, Edith Houghton – she’s nearly 13 years old and stands nearly 5 feet in her nearly white kiddies’ socks­ – almost won a game yesterday for the Bobbies from the Nippon Dental College baseball team …. It came in the fourth inning. Masuda led off with a double to center and pulled 11p at second. Sara Conlin shot the ball to The Kid, and while Masuda was brushing off the dust and the bench cheering, little Miss Houghton slyly made a backhand toss to Chick [Alma] Nolan who laid the ball away in her glove and went about her business. The Kid might have hidden the ball herself but she isn’t much larger than the ball so she entrusted it to Miss Nolan.

Then as Earl Hamilton turned toward home plate, and Masuda played off, The Kid stepped on the bag and Miss Nolan. conjured the ball out of the air for the little shortstop. The Kid promptly poked Masuda in the ribs and ran off kicking up her heels while Mr. Masuda looked painfully unnecessary and walked to the bench. Twice more during the rest of the game The Kid tried the same thing but by that time the eyes of Japan were cm her so much that she couldn’t have hidden a moth ball.

Following the Japan excursion and the breakup of the Bobbies, Houghton moved to other teams, and for a time played with the Passaic Bloomer Girls against men’s teams. “The performance of Edith Houghton for the invading team was the feature of the game,” wrote one reporter. “This Miss played as good a brand of ball as any male player has displayed at Maple Shade this season. In addition to pasting out five hits, including two doubles and a screaming homer, she handled six tries at short in major league fashion.”

From the Passaic Bloomer Girls, Edith went on to play with Margaret Nabel and the New York Bloomer Girls, commuting three hours a day, three days a week, just to play baseball. She was probably the best player the New York Bloomer Girls had ever seen. In 1931, she played with the Hollywood Stars, a newly­-formed bloomer team that toured the South and Texas, playing against teams in the Piedmont and Texas leagues. In all her years of play, Houghton’s salary never exceeded thirty-five dollars a week. “It wasn’t the money,” she smiles now wistfully. “It was never the money.”

By 1933 bloomer teams were beginning to fade from the scene, so Houghton tried out for the Fisher A.A’s, a Philadelphia men’s semi­professional outfit. She won the first base position and played well. When World War II broke out, she enlisted in the WAVES and continued to play ball while she served with the Navy. Discharged from the service, Houghton, then thirty­-four years old, decided that the Phillies needed her as a scout. In February 1946 she walked into the office of ball club owner Bob Carpenter, Jr., handed him her scrapbook, and explained why he should hire her as a scout. Several days later Carpenter tele­phoned Houghton with the news that the job was hers, and for five years The Kid scouted new talent on sandlots and high school fields.

Women such as Mary “Scoops” Gilroy and Edith “The Kid” Houghton were born ballplayers. During the twenties and thirties, Philadel­phia offered them women’s teams on which to play without traveling far from home, but staying home and playing baseball was a rare opportunity for women: with no league and no stadiums, most female ball players had to travel.

There was no one better to travel with than Maud Nelson, former pitcher and third baseman, and beginning in 1911, manager and owner. Although the All Star Ranger Girls, Nelson’s final and possibly finest team, operated out of Chicago, the club mainly played in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, and parts of New England.

In 1927, the year she organized the All Star Ranger Girls, Nelson was barnstorm­ing through Pennsylvania. In July the Ranger Girls met the Greensburg Generals of the Pennsylvania League (and went down to crushing defeat). An automobile accident robbed the Rangers of two players, who had to be sent back to Chicago to recuperate. As she traveled through Pennsylvania, Maud Nelson recruited two players, Margaret Watson of Irwin, Westmoreland County, and Alice Lopes of nearby Carbon. Proving much better than merely temporary players, both Watson and Lopes continued to tour with the All Star Ranger Girls.

In succeeding years, the Rangers barnstormed through the Keystone State. In July 1933, they faced the Boyertown Cardinals, winning 7-2. Margaret Gisolo of Blanford, Indiana (who in 1928 helped lead the Blanford Cubs to the American Legion Junior Baseball state championship as the team’s second baseman), toured with the Ranger Girls for four seasons, from 1930 to 1934. She remembers that during one game in Pitts­burgh, Honus Wagner came out to play catch with the team. “It was like playing with the Harlem Globetrotters,” Gisolo recounts, “He was wonderful! He’d throw from behind his back, between his legs, around his side. You never knew where the ball would be corning from.”

The long reign of the Bloomer Girls and Bobbies was ai1 exciting time for women who loved baseball. Women’s baseball teams were organized in nearly every city across the country. Pennsylvania’s baseball heritage was particu­larly rich. But after forty years, the bloomer era was corning to an end. By 1933 Margaret Nabel had fielded her last team: it was too difficult to make money playing baseball during the grim days of the Great Depression. And 1934 was Nelson’s last year. While men suffered as many minor league teams folded, for women it was far worse. Barred from minor league play in 1931 by Baseball Com.mis­sioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis, women had no place to play ball.

During the Great Depression, civic organizations and female physical education instructors encouraged women to give up baseball and accept softball. By the late 1930s it must have looked to the entire world as if women never had – and never again would – play real baseball. Even Philip K. Wrigley, when he started the All-American Girls Baseball League (AAGBL), called it the All­American Girls Softball League.

With the help of major league players and the talent of the great ballplayers who bravely took to the field in skirts, Wrigley’s game evolved into baseball. While some players had grown up playing only softball, others had baseball in their blood. Jean Faut of East Greenville, Montgomery County, grew up playing hardball and twice earned the coveted title of Player of the Year in the AAGBL. She was also the only pitcher in the League’s overhand era to hurl a perfect game – two of them, in fact. Today Jean Faut Eastman serves on the board of direc­tors of the Players Association of the All-American Girls Baseball League.

Dolly Pearson of Pittsburgh played in the AAGBL from 1948 to 1954 at short, first, second, and centerfield. And Ruth Richard of Argus, Bucks County, a catcher for the fabulous Rockford Peaches from 1947 to 1954, was regularly voted to the All-Star teams. So was Fern Shollenberger of Hamburg, Berks County. As third baseman for the Kenosha Comets, she was a professional baseball player from 1946 to 1954. Hailing from Nescopeck, Luzerne County, Ruth Williams was a pitcher who often found herself in competi­tion with former teammate Jean Faut.

The Keystone State’s sports history has been undeniably enriched by women’s baseball. With the popularity of the recent motion picture A League of Their Own (starring Geena Davis, Madonna, and Tom Hanks), with young girls now playing in the little leagues, and with spirited college tournaments, it’s only natural to wonder if, before the twentieth century comes to a close, baseball fans will see a woman signed to play in the minor leagues. If the past is prologue to the present, then that woman – someone resembling Lizzie Arlington­ – just might come from the hard coal, hardball country of Pennsylvania.


For Further Reading

Dyer, K. F. Challenging the Men: Women in Sport. Australia: University of Queensland Press, 1982.

Gregorich, Barbara. Women at Play: The Story of Women in Baseball. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1993.

Postow, Betsy C., ed. Women, Philosophy and Sport: A Collection of New Essays. Metuchen, N. J.: Scarecrow Press, 1983.


Barbara Gregorich of Chicago is the author of Women at Play: The Story of Women in Baseball, recently published by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. She has also written the well-received baseball novel She’s on First and sports articles for USA Today and Sports Illustrated. She is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research.