Well, tomorrow it all begins as pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training. But just as we celebrate the start of a new baseball season I must also pay tribute today to the end of a baseball life. The life of someone who surely should be remembered in Girls Best Phriend.
Her name was Edith Houghton and she died on February 2 at the age of 100. No, I never heard of her either (thanks, Mom!) but Edith was a pioneer. She was the first female scout in Major League baseball history.
I’m proud to say that Edith was hired in 1946 by then Phillies owner Bob Carpenter to scout for the Phillies, a position she held until 1952 when she left to serve in the Korean War.
Edith’s love of the game started when she was 10 years old, playing baseball on the streets of her North Philadelphia neighborhood. She was good, really good.
In fact, that same year she tried out for a new professional women’s team called the “Bobbies.” Not only was she the youngest player selected for the team, her teammates ranged in age from 16-20, but she quickly became their best player.
Edith spent most of the next 10 years on a baseball diamond playing shortstop for several different traveling women’s teams. Until she found something even more important than baseball. During World War II she enlisted in the navy to serve her country.
It was after the war that she wrote to Carpenter who, to his ever-lasting credit, took one look at her scrapbook filled with pictures and articles, and hired her immediately.
She signed 15 players during her time scouting for the Phillies and although none of them ever got called up to “the show,” Edith has earned her place in baseball history. And in 2006, to make it official, her cap and other gear were put on display in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.
So Edith, from one baseball fan to another, this girl just wants to say thanks.
Or to paraphrase someone near and dear to all Phillies fans:
“Edith, you ARE the woman.”