Edith Houghton Dies: MLB's First Female Scout Lived to 100

Monday, 11 Feb 2013 10:03 PM

By Megan Anderle

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The baseball world has lost a true trail blazer. Edith Houghton, who died at age 100 last week, was the first female scout in Major League Baseball and played against men’s baseball teams before she was a teenager.

While most girls were playing with dolls or helping with chores around the house, Edith Houghton was playing shortstop for the Philadelphia Bobbies, an all-girls professional baseball team that was named after the popular “bob” hairstyle of the 1920s.

The youngest and best player on the team, the 10-year-old athlete was known as "the Kid,” according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

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She played with the Bobbies for four seasons, ending in 1925 with a tour of Japan, playing men's college teams, when she was only 13, according to Buzzfeed. Houghton and her teammates earned $800 a game during the tour.

Houghton went on to play with various all-girls teams, commonly called "Bloomer Girls" and later the Hollywood Girls in 1931, before the time of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League that was popularized by the film “A League of Their Own.”

During the Depression most Bloomer Girls teams found it hard to earn enough to continue playing. The last all-women's team of the era disbanded in 1934. Ms. Houghton opted for professional softball instead.

She served in the Navy during World War II and reportedly played for the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES) women’s baseball team.

When she returned to the United States in 1946, she contacted Philadelphia Phillies owner Bob Carpenter and asked to be hired as a scout, Buzzfeed reported. He agreed and she became the first woman to hold the position in Major League Baseball. She scouted for the Phillies from 1946-1952, signing 15 players to contracts, though none would play in the majors.

She served again during the Korean War, cutting her scouting career short. She later retired from the Navy with the rank of Chief Petty Officer.

Born on Feb. 10, 1912, in Philadelphia, Houghton died Feb. 2  in Sarasota, Fla., days away from her 101st birthday,

She never married or had children and is survived by great-nieces.

In 2006, Houghton's baseball cap and other gear were put on display in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.

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