|Edith Houghton, baseball’s first female scout|
The Phillies have a rich historical tradition that includes being the North American pro sports franchise with the longest-running, continuous use full name (Philadelphia Phillies), the losingest franchise in Major League Baseball history, and the first team to wear pinstripe uniforms.
On February 15th, 1946 the Phillies added to that historical legacy by hiring the first solo female scout, in fact one of the very first female game-related employees, in the history of baseball.
Edith Houghton was a native of the city, born and raised in North Philly into a typically large family at the time, the youngest of ten children. Her father had been a semi-pro ballplayer, and began to teach young Edith the game as a child.
As Shawn Selby wrote in his piece that appeared with SABR, “She would play games with neighborhood kids whenever she had the chance and from her parents’ bedroom window on the second floor she would watch night games on the field outside her house.”
“So enamored with baseball was she that by the time she was 8 she was the on-field mascot for the local police league teams,” wrote Selby. “The job even allowed her to sit next to the mayor at games from time to time. At 9, young Edith was already doing hitting and fielding displays on the field before games.”
As she came to adolescence in the 1920’s, young Houghton wasn’t much into dolls and dresses like most girls her age. No, that pre-pubescent Houghton was a tomboy, and her first love was that game taught to her by her father – baseball.
She didn’t just love the game, she was very good at it, so good that she was able to make the Philadelphia Bobbies women’s barnstorming factory team in 1922 when she was just 10 years old. The team was composed of girls in their teens and early-20’s, and Houghton became their starting shortstop.
Paul Vitello of the New York Times reported in 2013 that a Lancaster, PA newspaper wrote about Houghton during her first season as a player.
That piece had stated “Little Miss Houghton, 10-year-old phenom, covered the ground at shortstop for the team and made herself a favorite with fans for her splendid field work and at the bat.”