Women in Baseball History: Amanda Clement

In Legend of League Park Gioia’s father once dreamed of becoming a major league umpire. Today we will feature the first woman paid to umpire a baseball game: Amanda Clement.

Image courtesy of the South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame
Image courtesy of the South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame

One story states that Amanda’s brother, Hank, was a baseball player. On that fateful day in 1904, she traveled to  Iowa to watch him play, but there was one small problem: the scheduled umpire did not show up for the game. Hank, however, had an idea. He suggested to his teammates that his sister could officiate since she was a decent ball player herself.

Other sources say that Amanda’s family lived in the same town as the game and she was approached by the manager.

Either way, this much is true: The rest of the semi-pro team was quite impressed. She was hired immediately and continued to officiate regularly. In a theme repeated among female baseball icons of the early 1900s, she was able to use her earnings to put herself through the University of Nebraska.

[Women in Baseball History is a weekly feature in honor of my book The Legend of League Park, which will be released in April.]

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Women in Baseball History: Sophie Kurys

Every time she got on base, you might as well call it a double. If she would have been a man, she could have played second base for any major league team. – Racine resident Mike Corona, bat boy for the Belles

“It wasn’t so much her speed. Sophie read the pitchers and took advantage of their different deliveries, and she took advantage of every mistake they made.” – Madeline English, 1996.

Known as the Flint Flash and Tina Cobb, this Flint Michigan native played second base during the years of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.  Kurys was a member of the Racine Belles and played with them for eight years, during which time she became famous for her base stealing abilities, averaging 150 steals per season. In 1946 she had her career high season with 201 steals, a record that still stands in baseball today. Her overall record of 1,114 stolen bases was not beaten until Rickey Henderson in 1994.
Sophie Kurys slides into base
Image courtesy of Racine Belles Facebook Page

*for more information there is a fascinating article on Sophie at Society for American Baseball Research

[Women in Baseball History is a weekly feature in honor of my book The Legend of League Park, which will be released in April.]

Women in Baseball History: Lizzie Arlington

[Apologies for the delay this week. I have been hard at work, laying out the pages for the book!]

Lizzie Arlington Program

Widely considered to be the first woman to play organized baseball, Elizabeth Stroud (The real name of Lizzie Arlington), began playing for the Reading Coal Heavers, a minor league affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies in 1898. The game was reported in the Reading Eagle, and this compromises much of what is known about her baseball career:

“The spectators beheld a plump young woman with an attractive face and rosy cheeks. She wore a gray uniform with skirt coming up to the knees, black stockings and a jaunty cap.”

and of course the sportwriter added:

“for a woman, she is a success.”

Lizzie, discovered by legend Ed Barrow, would ultimately serve as a closer, preserving a 5-0 lead to clinch the win for Reading.

Illustration of Lizzie Arlington

[Women in Baseball History is a weekly feature in honor of my book The Legend of League Park, which will be released in April.]