Joan Whitney Payson
Mets Co-founder and Original Owner, Team President 1968-1975
Joan Payson fell in love with baseball as a child watching the New York Giants at the Polo Grounds, and eventually became a minority shareholder in the team. After the Giants left for San Franciscio she sold her stock and began working to bring a replacement team to New York. In 1961, the National League awarded her a New York franchise, and from names including the Skyliners, the Burros, and the Jets, it was Joan Payson who picked the name Mets. She lobbied for the team to bring in her favorite players like Gil Hodges and Willie Mays and even convinced Casey Stengal to come out of retirement and become the team's first manager. Beloved by players and fans alike for her passion for the game, she could always be found in her box behind home plate cheering and even heckling the opposing players. In 1981 she was inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame.
First Young Ladies Baseball Club 1890
Newark Eagles Owner
Effa Manley was the owner and business manager of the Negro Leagues franchise the Newark Eagles. She was responsible for day-to-day business operations of the team, arranged playing schedules, planned the team’s travel, managed and met the payroll, bought the equipment, negotiated contracts, and handled publicity and promotions. Legend says she even called bunts from the stands by crossing and uncrossing her legs. Male owners She worked to improve playing conditions for her players, advocating better pay, scheduling, and travel accomodations. In the offseason, she sponsored a team in the Puerto Rican winter leagues to ensure her players had work opportunities. She provided the Eagles with an air-conditioned Flexible Clipper bus, a first for a Negro League Team. Aware of her team's role in the communitiy, Effa used baseball to advance civil rights. She worked with the Citizen's League for Fair Pay and the NAACP and in 1939 held an "Anti-Lynching Day" at Ruppert Stadium. In 2006 Manley became the first women to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Her gravestone reads "She Loved Baseball."
Second Base, Racine Belles 1943-1950
Right-handed pitcher, Indianapolis Clowns 1953-1955
Rejected by the racially segregated All-American Girls League, Mamie Johnson went to play for the Indianapolis Clowns of the Negro Leagues. Afterwards she said "If I had played with white girls, I would have been just another player, but now I am somebody who has done something that no other woman has done." In her first game, an opposing batter yelled to the 100 pound pitcher, ""What makes you think you can strike a batter out? Why, you aren't any larger than a peanut!"" She responded by striking him out in 3 pitches and the nickname stuck with her from the day on.
Lizzie Murphy's baseball career began when she was 15, playing first base for local amateur teams. She moved up to play for the semi-pro Boston All-Stars, where she played in the same uniform as the men with one exception. Her name was written across the back and the front so that everyone could see she was the woman they came to see. In 1922 she became the first woman to play in a major league exhibition game. In 1928 she became the first person of either gender to play for both the National League and the American League in All-Star games.
Pitcher, Chattanooga Lookouts
In 1931, 17 year old Jackie Mitchell signed with the Southern Association AA Chattanooga Lookouts. On April 2nd the Yankees came to Chattanooga to play an exhibition game on their way back from spring training. On playing against a woman, Babe Ruth had this to say: "I don't know what's going to happen if they begin to let women in baseball. Of course, they will never make good. Why? Because they are too delicate. It would kill them to play ball every day." Ruth was the first batter Jackie faced and she struck out on four pitches. Infuriated and embarassed, he threw his bat and stormed back to the dugout. Next up Lou Gehrig swung and missed at three pitches in a row. A few days later the comissioner voided her contract, claiming baseball was "too strenuous" for a woman to handle. She travelled the country pitching in exhibition games and was retired by time she was 23, but the legend of those back to back strikeouts lives on.
Katie BrownellOn May 14th, 2005, 11 year old Katie Brownell pitched a perfect game for the little league Dodgers of Oakfield, NY, striking out every batter she faced. She was honoroed in a ceremony at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and donated her game jersey to become a part of the Women in Baseball exhibit.
"First Lady of Flatbush"
A former softball player, Hilda Chester became the Brooklyn Dodgers most famous fan. After she suffered a heart attack and her doctor forbid her from yelling at games, she started carrying a frying pan and ladle to Ebbets Field, making so much noise in the stands that all the fans and players noticed. In the late 1930s, the Dodgers honored her for her loyalty and presented her with a brass cowbell. Even after she was given a lifetime pass to the grandstand, Hilda and her bell could always be found among the rowdy fans in the bleachers.
Edith "The Kid" Houghton
First Female Major League Scout
Edith Houghton joined the Philadelphia Bobbies when she was only ten years old. In 1925 she travelled Japan with the Bobbies playing against men's college teams. When she returned home she played several seasons for Bloomer Girls teams and when World War II broke out she enlisted in the Navy's women's auxiliary and played for their baseball team. After the war she wrote to the owner of the Philadelphia Phillies asking for a job as a scout. She was hired and scouted for the Phillies for six years until she was called up for the Korean War.
Dorothy "Dottie" Wiltse
Pitcher, Fort Wayne Daisies
Dottie Wiltse was a pitcher for the Fort Wayne Daisies. In one month she twice won both games of doubleheaders. In each of her first four seasons, Wiltse won 20 games or more. She finished with a career record of 117-76 with an ERA of 1.83 and 1205 strikeouts, and in 1944 she pitched up until she was six months pregnant.
Unlike her male counterpart, we don't think she gets nearly enough play.