To date, there has only been one woman who played baseball with a team of major leaguers in a big-league ballpark. Her name was Mary Elizabeth Murphy and on August 14, 1922, she played for a team of “all-stars” in an exhibition game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Lizzie Murphy’s team beat the Red Sox, 3-2.1
That game was played in honor of a popular former Boston baseball star, the recently deceased Tommy McCarthy, a future Hall of Famer. It was originally intended as a benefit for the ailing McCarthy, but he died on August 5, and it became a benefit for his family. It was supposed to include Babe Ruth, who had to bow out with an abscessed leg. Yet Murphy was herself pretty well known in New England at the time.
This was an era when women were making great strides in a number of areas. It was in August just two years earlier, in 1920, when the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, granting women the right to vote. Women were active in sports, and newspapers of the day often featured sports page headlines regarding women’s tennis, swimming, and other sports.
Lizzie Murphy was a novelty, for sure, and a gate attraction. She was also a very good baseball player. A Rhode Island native, she’d played with a number of baseball teams for some years, including the Providence Independents. In 1918, she signed with semipro team owner Ed Carr of Boston, who announced on her signing, “No ball is too hard for her to scoop out of the dirt, and when it comes to batting, she packs a mean wagon tongue.”2 With Ed Carr’s All-Stars, she played a hundred games a summer, reports Barbara Gregorich in her book Women At Play.3 Murphy played in games throughout all the New England states and the eastern provinces of Canada. She had a 17-year career and became known as the “Queen of Baseball.”
At Fenway Park, though, it was to be Queen for a day.
Mary Elizabeth Murphy was born on April 13, 1894, in Warren, Rhode Island, a town on a peninsula on the eastern shore of Narragansett Bay; it had a population of 6,585 in 1910. She was the fourth of seven children born to John E. Murphy and Mary Murphy.4 John was a native of Massachusetts; his parents were natives of England. Mary was born in Quebec of French Canadian parents. We believe her to be the Marie Garand who lived in Warren at the time of the 1880 census and worked in a cotton mill; her surname was presented as “Garant” in the obituary for her famous daughter.5 Lizzie was bilingual.6
Mary Elizabeth (“Lizzie”) Murphy first appears in the 1900 United States census, living with the family in Attleboro, Massachusetts, where her father was employed as an overseer in a cotton mill. Her older sister Sarah, 16, worked as a mill spinner. The household also embraced a boarder from French Canada, Malvina Ledoux, a mill spooler.
By 1910, John and the family were back in Warren, and he was listed as a store keeper, running a confectionery. All six children in the family were born in Rhode Island. The eldest son, Henry, 20, worked as a baker. Eva, a year older than Henry, was a mill spinner. It is unclear whether Lizzie was also working as a spinner in the mill at age 16. That was written next to her name on the census form, but then crossed out and written in again next to her 12-year-old sister Lena. A 1913 article in the Providence Journal said that Lizzie was “employed in the Parker Mill in East Warren as a ring spinner.”7 In researching Murphy’s background, Debra Shattuck found a 1913-14 edition of The Bristol, Warren and Barrington Rhode Island Directory, which listed Murphy’s occupation as “ball player.”8
Lizzie had completed the fifth grade; that was the extent of her formal education.9
Her father was an athlete himself, said to have been “known as a long distance runner.”10 It was Henry, however, who got her hooked on playing baseball when she was around 10 years old. As she recalled in 1923, “My brother…used to teach me to throw and catch, and it seemed to come natural to me. I could always throw better than most girls. When I was at the age where kids throw stones at cats and hens, I guess I hit the mark as often as any of the boys. When I got a little older, I would join the boys playing one o’ cat, and a few years ago I had a chance to play in one of the scrub games near home and did well enough so they began to choose me for their teams regularly.” At a certain point, she said she decided baseball wasn’t for a girl to play and thought she would quit. “But I went to look on at one of the games and got so excited I couldn’t stay out. As a fan I can’t keep still.”11
She enjoyed playing baseball but was an accomplished athlete in other areas. The 1913 Journal article called her “an expert skater, probably the equal of any man of her age along the east shore, and ice hockey is one of her favorite diversions. She has won prizes in various other contests, and there are few forms of athletics she is not able to join.”12 Some 25 years later, she told another writer, “It may sound strange, but do you know that mother never saw me play. She was always afraid I would break a bone or something, but I have never had a bad accident.”13
It was in baseball that she was able to play professionally, and for many years earned a living doing so.
In 1914, she played for the Warren Shoe team of the Manufacturers League, turning up in an article in Providence’s Evening Bulletin as the team’s first baseman.14 Warren Shoe won,7-6, and “Miss Lizzie Murphy” was singled out in the brief news story, which said she had 12 putouts in the game, including a double play, and that in the fourth inning, with runners on first and second, she “lay [sic] down a fine sacrifice bunt.”15 The team scored three runs that inning. In a game that Warren Shoe planned against the Railroad team of the Narragansett Amateur League for August 23, one of the opponents was to be Miss Margaret Sullivan, also a first baseman.16 One finds a number of games announced during Murphy’s career, but no trace of whether this game actually occurred.
Murphy consistently played first base, but she had been playing for scrub teams in the area for three years and just the year before she had said that shortstop was her preferred position. The Journal said she “has gained reputation as a pitcher also.”17
She played for different semipro teams. On August 29, 1914, she was due to play for the East Providence Moose team. The New York, New Haven and Hartford team also featured a female first baseman, Marguerite Fontaine of Providence.18
A May 1915 edition of the Evening Bulletin ran a photograph of Murphy, glove on her left hand, saying she would be playing first base for Providence’s Independent A.C.19 She was right-handed, stood 5-feet-6, and said her best playing weight was 122 pounds; her “braided hair was tucked under a baseball cap.”20
A game account in Fall River’s Evening Herald said, “She knocked down hard-hit grounders, gobbled up poor throws that would get away from many players, and at every time showed she knew the game.”21 She did get thrown out on an attempted steal of second, the throw from the Fall River Independents catcher beating her hook slide.
Providence Journal reporter Carolyn Thornton reported that in 1918, she [Murphy] joined the Boston All-Stars, “a semipro team of former major league players” and that “for the next 17 years she traveled the United States and Canada, playing over 100 games a season.”22 By 1920, she had attracted the nickname “Spike.”23
Scattered articles turn up on web searches of newspaper databases. On August 8, 1920, she played first base for Manville Co, in their 2-0 win over J & P Coats of Pawtucket.24 On August 17, she was due to play for the Universal Winding Company team; she was described as the “noted woman ball player of Warren.”25 And she rated a headline on a small preview a couple of weeks later, when she was to be featured at first base with Warwick A.C. against the Providence Gas Company team.26 On October 17, Murphy’s Providence Stars team lost to the Beverage Hill team, but it was said she “received much applause, especially in the eighth, when she hit over second for a clean bingle.”27
She was often the only player named as being planned for these games, an indication that her inclusion in the game was seen as noteworthy and marketable. That said, she may have been taken advantage of once, earlier. Thornton explained:
“Her only known confrontation occurred with a team manager when she played for a Warren team at the age of 15. In those days, spectators were not charged admission to semipro baseball games. Instead, a hat was passed through the stands and players would share what was collected.
“In Murphy’s first game with the team, however, she received nothing. The following Saturday afternoon, as the team began boarding the bus for a game in Newport, Murphy refused to get on until the manager agreed to pay her $5 for every game, plus an equal share of the collection.
“To supplement her small salary, Murphy would work the crowds between innings, selling postcards of herself in uniform for a dime.”28
The following year, Murphy played with Eddie McGinley’s Providence Independents. That August, the Independents were scheduled to play against the Cleveland Colored Giants in a game at Rocky Point.29 Murphy was to play first base “and attempt to catch a ball dropped from an aeroplane.”30 Murphy played first base, batting seventh in the order. The Independents won, 6-5. The Providence Journal wrote, “Lizzie was there strong” with 15 putouts. She committed one of the team’s four errors. Though without a hit, she walked three times and scored a run as the Independents defeated the Cleveland Colored Giants before “the largest crowd of the year” at Rocky Point, a close game which was “full of pep and excitement from the start and not until the last colored boy was out was the game decided.”31
Sportswriter Dick Reynolds wrote, “She is believed to have been the first woman ever to play on a black baseball club.”32 For a 1938 article from the Providence Evening Bulletin, Elizabeth L. Williams spoke with Murphy and reported, “She recalled playing at Rocky Point with the Cleveland Colored Giants, with the Athol Manufacturing Club against the East Jaffrey, N.H. team, and with the Lymansville team under Manager Neil Flynn, also with Jack Cooney, of Cranston, with the Boston Braves of the National League, and with many other outfits.”33
In a similar vein, we have been unable to find support for Jane Lancaster’s statement that in a later game in New York State, “she was very proud to have gotten a base hit off the legendary Satchel Paige.”34
McGinley acted as her manager. Those wishing to book her were urged to write to him. He was a player on the Independents as well. For a game on September 11 to be played at Moosup, Connecticut, he was listed as the catcher for Roy Rock’s All-Stars and Murphy was listed at first base. The Norwich newspaper said of Murphy, “This young lady has a wonderful record on the diamond. The way Miss Murphy performs on first is remarkable and is worth going miles to see.”35 After the regular season was over, McGinley signed Boston Braves pitcher Johnny Cooney to join him and Murphy on the Independents.
She was clearly seen as a benefit to market, and her number of appearances increased in 1922. Her uniform was one-of-a-kind. In many respects, it was a standard baseball uniform but rather than a team name across the front, it read instead “LIZZIE MURPHY.”
She had other talents as well. “She keeps in condition by chopping wood and swimming. She also plays the violin.”36 The Boston Globe said she was active as both a mile and five-mile runner and swimmer.37
One newspaper said, “When she first began as a regular player, she felt people used to come see her because of the novelty. But as she improved and became a star, the spectators came to see an expert ballplayer at work.”38 Reynolds said, “Teammates did not seem to resent the public attention showered on Lizzie. Bigger crowds meant bigger collections and more money for everybody. Furthermore, Lizzie never flaunted her celebrity status.”39
A novelty she was, but the Springfield (Massachusetts) Republican advised readers, “Miss Murphy is not in the lineup just because she is a woman…She is there because she can play ball. She is hitting .300, no mean record with a fast semi-pro company as she travels with. Her fielding leaves nothing to be desired.”40
She played games in Malden, to the largest crowd ever for a twilight game in South Boston, and before a “huge mob” at Fore River Field, getting the first hit in a game the Independents lost, 1-0.41 A reported 10,000 who turned out at South Boston’s Christopher J. Lee Playground saw her execute a squeeze play to help beat Kelly’s All Stars, 6-3.42 She had proven herself to be “one of the best [semipro] first basemen in New England.”43
A number of days later, the Independents beat the New York New Haven and Hartford All-Stars, 8-1, at Boston’s Walpole Street Grounds (as the South End Grounds was also known). Murphy collected two base hits and was said to have “played a strong game.”44 It was her double in the top of the ninth that kicked off an eight-run rally.45
Her deportment was that of the other ballplayers. A note in the Post described her at first base awaiting the pitch with her hands on her knees and ready to spring into action. “Occasionally she spat into her mitt after the manner of other players and kept up a steady stream of talk to the pitcher, her chatter being clearly heard with its light tones.”46
As noted, the August 14 exhibition game at Fenway was the peak moment of Murphy’s baseball career.
As a celebrity, she had other opportunities away from the diamond. A little more than a week before her appearance at Fenway, she and McGinley paired up for a vaudeville sketch entitled “Headin’ Home” at the Bangor Opera House in August.47
Her fame spread. She played for Ed Carr’s All-Stars in 1923. A photograph of her ran in Canton, Ohio’s Repository and the San Francisco Chronicle ran the same photograph, saying she was earning $300 a week.48 She had aspirations to become a major-league ballplayer “in another season or two,” according to the Milwaukee Journal. The article said she insisted her teammates not call her “Miss” on the diamond, and that she also enjoyed cooking, sewing, films, and reading.49
This was hardball and the appeal was that Murphy was playing with, and against, the top semipro and amateur ballplayers around New England. In a July game at Newport, Rhode Island, she suffered a serious hand injury that required several stitches.50 She got back without losing too much time, and her team beat Dorchester, 9-3,51 but she was then injured again against the Somerville Civic Club during a game in Medford, Massachusetts. Her hand was spiked in the fourth inning, and she had to leave the game.52 One wonders if this may have contributed to her nickname. Just a week later, she doubled in a game against the G. F. Redmond Co.53
In 1924 and 1925, Carr’s team was sometimes billed as Lizzie Murphy’s All-Stars, in recognition of her importance as a draw. News accounts did at times offer praise for her play; for instance, a Boston Globe article that said she “once again proved that she is not a novelty but a clever woman player.”54 A subheading from the Patriot Ledger called her the “Female Sisler” and the article said, “Only the fact that women are barred from the big show keeps her from wearing major league spangles.”55 One of her teammates in 1926 was Buck O’Brien, formerly with the Boston Red Sox.56 The two were booked to play in Fitchburg against the Philadelphia Colored Giants on July 5, but played against Fitchburg in the second game of a doubleheader, Fitchburg playing the first game against Philadelphia.57
Fielding was apparently more her forte. Box scores typically showed her batting ninth and many showed her having been held hitless. There were more productive games, of course, such as her 2-for-4 outing against Salem, Massachusetts, on April 22, 1927, in which she also successfully executed a sacrifice.58 One of those who played in the 17-inning game of July 4, 1932, at Newport said, “Lizzie played the entire game and handled some 30-odd chances. As a fielder she was as good as the average man. At bat, she was only fair, though she did not flinch from the fastest pitch.”59
As one might expect, not all praised her talents. Jim Russell of the Philadelphia Inquirer offered a retrospective comment in 1956, while praising athlete Babe Didrikson Zaharias. He wrote, “In the 20’s, fancy words flew around the semi-pro circuit about a first base woman named Lizzie Murphy, who reached the zenith when she played with a group of major leaguers in an exhibition game at Boston’s Fenway Park, home of the Red Sox. Not long after that achievement, Liz came to town to play against the local pros, and thousands turned out for a look. They saw a rather awkward girl play one inning at first, take a couple of soft throws from the infielders, and bat once against some delicately slow pitching, while thousands stifled their jeers.”60
How good was Lizzie Murphy? Perhaps a more balanced appraisal came from sportswriter Dick Reynolds. “Many who watched Lizzie have contended that she could play first base with the best. That,” he wrote, “must remain uncertain. It is certain, however, that her performances produced few, if any, complaints. … Even the American League All-Stars, skeptical at first, applauded her ability to cover ground, scoop up grounders with long, powerful figures, and throw with an unerring arm. She was not a slugger. But her career hitting average was just below .300 and Carr considered her among his most dependable stickers.”61
Murphy was said to have played in a 1929 exhibition game involving the Boston Braves and some National League All-Stars (Dick Reynolds says American League All-Stars). However, even with diligent research and appeals to others among SABR’s best researchers, it has not been possible to find any such game. As with the stories of her playing against Satchel Paige – whose own appearances were highly promoted – no such games have been found. Perhaps it is the case, as one researcher suggested, that these are myths.62
One could post a number of reasons that she does not turn up as much in newspaper database searches in the later 1920s. Yet there were at least occasional appearances noted, such as in Marlboro, Massachusetts, when Lizzie Murphy’s All-Stars were to play the Marlboro Merchants in late August 1933.63
As mentioned previously, there was a standout game on July 4, 1932, in Newport, Rhode Island, which ran 17 innings. It featured the Sunset League All-Stars against the Providence Independents. Hank Soar – later an American League umpire 1950-78 – was catcher for Providence. The game was lost when, with runners on second and third, Soar dropped a two-out third strike and then, trying to get the out at first, “threw the ball over Lizzie Murphy’s head.”64
Among those who had played with her All-Stars were said to be Pete Wood, brother of Smoky Joe Wood, and Bill Stewart, who was a scout for the Boston Red Sox in 1925 and 1926 and later a National League umpire from 1933 through 1954.65
Gai Ingham Berlage wrote, “Lizzie goes down in history as the first woman ever to have played against a major league team. In 1934 Babe Didrikson would add another first by actually playing for major league teams in major league exhibitions. Babe pitched a few innings for the Philadelphia Athletics against the Brooklyn Dodgers and for the St. Louis Cardinals against the Boston Braves.”66 The distinction was that Didrikson’s play was during spring training exhibition games, not in a major-league ballpark.
After 18 years as a professional, Lizzie Murphy retired from playing baseball when she turned 40. She returned to Warren to work in the mills, and later worked on oyster boats out of Warren. Among Murphy’s leisure-time interests, reporter Elizabeth Williams noted “several carved wooden toys, which she said she had made during the depression.”67
Murphy was married on October 30, 1937, to Walter Larivee of Warren, said to have been a supervisor in one of the mills. He had been raised there in a mill family (the 1900 census showed his widowed mother Exilda and her four oldest children all working as weavers in a cotton mill).68 Perhaps the Depression had an effect; Walter was listed in the 1940 census at a laborer doing road construction. He was 11 years older than his wife. The marriage ended with his untimely death in 1944.
It was said that Murphy soured on baseball a bit. She told one visitor, “It’s hard to explain why I liked baseball so much. And the more I think about it the less I understand the reason.”69 She declined an invitation to dedicate a Little League field, and when some friends began planning a testimonial dinner for her, she said she would not attend.70
That said, retired Warren High School baseball coach Charlie Burdge said, “If you met her coming up from the river with a bucket of clams, she’d stop for a few minutes and talk baseball. She never put down the game. But, for some reason, she didn’t want any public appearances.”71
Nonetheless, Jane Lancaster quoted her as saying, after her retirement, “Eddie [Carr] used to tell me that I was the first girl to break into baseball with a man’s team as a regular player. You know that makes me feel mighty good.”72
At the age of 70, Elizabeth Larivee died in a Providence hospital on July 27, 1964. She was buried in Warren at St. Jean Baptist Cemetery. She was survived by brother Henry and sisters Lena Bouffard and Mary Ella Lynch.73 A brief note from the Associated Press said she had “gained renown in New England and Eastern Canada 40 years ago as Lizzie Murphy, a woman baseball player in an era when it was unusual to see a woman driving a car.”74
The following month, she was inducted into the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame.76
This biography was originally published in SABR’s Baseball Research Journal, Volume 51, Number 1 (2022). Thanks to John Watkins for a number of additional elements included in this adapted version, which was reviewed by Rory Costello and Norman Macht and fact-checked by John Watkins.
Thanks to Barbara Gregorich, Leslie Heaphy, Jay Hurd, Jane Lancaster, Len Levin, Emily Arnold McCully, Debra (Shattuck) Burton, and John Watkins.
Lizzie Murphy’s story is one of a girl – and a woman – who chose to be different. She seems to have had a rewarding life. One effort to tell her story to children ages 4-10 is Queen of the Diamond: The Lizzie Murphy Story by Emily Arnold McCully (New York: Margaret Ferguson Books, 2015).
1 The biography initially draws on material the author originally had published in 2008. See Bill Nowlin, Red Sox Threads (Burlington, Massachusetts: Rounder Books, 2008).
2 Barbara Gregorich, Women at Play: The Story of Women in Baseball (San Diego and New York: Harcourt Brace, 1993), 28. Of Murphy, Carr said, “She swells attendance, and she’s worth every cent I pay her. But most important, she produces the goods and, all in all, she’s a real player and a good fellow.” John Hanlon, “Queen Lizzie Plays First Base,” Sports Illustrated, June 21, 1965.
3 Gregorich, 29.
4 The censuses from 1900 and 1910 only reveal six children in the family: Sarah, Eva, Henry (John in 1900), Mary (Elizabeth in 1910), Marylena (Lena in 1910), and Ellen (Ella in 1910). However, contemporary reporter Elizabeth L. Williams said she was from a family of five girls and two boys. “None of my sisters was a tomboy,” Murphy told Williams. Elizabeth L. Williams, “Warren Woman Recalls Life as Baseball Star,” Providence Evening Bulletin, February 2, 1938: 24. Her older brother’s name may have been John Henry Murphy.
5 “‘Lizzie’ Murphy Larivee, 70, Onetime Ballplayer, Dies,” Providence Journal, July 29, 1964: 20.
6 This helped her in baseball at one point when playing a game in Canada. She overheard the opposition discussing steal signals in French. She improvised a signal to her catcher, and they cut down base stealers “Nailed five of them that way,” she is reported to have said. Hanlon, “Queen Lizzie Plays First Base.”
7 “Warren Girl An Expert Baseball Player,” Providence Journal, July 27, 1913: Section 5, page 4.
8 Debra Shattuck, “Playing A Man’s Game: Women and Baseball in the United States, 1866-1954,” Baseball History from Outside the Lines: A Reader, John E. Dreifort, ed. (Lincoln: Univ. of Nebraska Press, 2001), 195-215.
9 1940 United States Census.
10 “Woman on First in Game at Ware,” Springfield Republican, May 30, 1922: 5.
11 “Warren Girl An Expert Baseball Player.” The age of 10 was cited in the Newburyport Daily News, October 7, 1923: 7. She said, “I used to beg the boys to let me carry the bats. Finally, I was allowed to join the team for only one reason: I used to ‘steal’ my father’s gloves and bats and bring them along, so I was a valuable asset to them when I could furnish some of the equipment.” Hanlon.
12 “Warren Girl An Expert Baseball Player.” She told Williams, “I used to skate and play hockey on the Kickemuit river down here, and I have a medal that I won for hockey.” Elizabeth L. Williams.
14 The Warren Shoe team was organized by John Natel, who had a shoe repair shop on Main Street in Warren.
15 “Warren Shoe 7, Railroad 6,” Evening Bulletin (Providence), July 20, 1914: 19.
16 “Railroads vs. Esmond,” Evening Bulletin, August 15, 1914: 14. Some of the other women playing baseball at the time who were mentioned in articles read during the research for this biography included Maggie Riley, Nellie Twardzik, Anna Murray, and Milly Hill.
17 “Warren Girl An Expert Baseball Player.”
18 “Double-Header at Crescent Park,” Evening Bulletin, August 24, 1914: 30. In researching Murphy’s career, one finds more announcements of games to be played than results of the actual game. This likely reflects promotional efforts before a game intended to bolster attendance. Finding a game story or box score of the game has often proven elusive.
19 “Miss Lizzie Murphy,” Evening Bulletin, May 15, 1915: 15.
20 Jane Lancaster, “R. I. woman was a hit in a man’s game,” Providence Journal, July 12, 1992: E-06. One article mentioned that at the end of a game, she took off her cap and her hair – normally braided during games – tumbled down. A 1920 article in the Boston Post put her at five feet tall and 125 pounds. See A. F. Donnell, “‘Fans Pan Me, But I Don’t Mind,’ Says Girl Champ,” Boston Post, August 1, 1920: 36.
21 “Nine Men and A Lady Beat Marks,” Evening Herald (Fall River, Massachusetts), August 30, 1915: 6.
22 Carolyn Thornton, “First ‘baseman’ shone in semi pro ball,” Providence Journal, March 29, 1994: A-02.
23 Donnell. This article offers Lizzie herself talking at some length about how she first became involved playing ball in Warren and some of the challenges she faced, such as opposing pitchers trying to bean her. How she attracted the nickname “Spike” remains unknown.
24 “Manville 2, Coats 0,” Evening Bulletin, August 9, 1920: 18.
25 “Ball Game Plans Complete,” Evening Bulletin, August 16, 1920: 10.
26 “Miss Murphy to Play at Point,” Evening Bulletin, September 3, 1920: 29.
27 “Beverage Hill Team Wins,” Evening Bulletin, October 18, 1920: 31. This game drew 3,000.
28 Thornton. Having bargained for the compensation she received, she had – suggested Hanlon – been baseball’s first woman holdout. The postcards often sold well.
29 “Lizzie to Play,” Evening Herald (Fall River, Massachusetts), August 12, 1921: 12. The article said, in part, “Manager McGinley will have Lizzie Murphy on first base.”
30 “Game Sunday at Rocky Point,” Evening Bulletin, August 17, 1921: 19. The game against the Giants was postponed at least once due to rain but advertised in the newspaper for September 4. The ad billed her as the “greatest girl first base player in the east.” See Evening Bulletin, September 3, 1921: 8.
31 “McGinley’s Independents 6, Cleveland Colored Giants 5,” Providence Journal, August 22, 1921: 5.
32 Dick Reynolds, “Lizzie Murphy, Queen of Diamonds,” Old Rhode Island, April 1994: 14. Reynolds said that she was believed to have played first base for the Giants. Robert Cvornyek and Fran Leazes write that the Cleveland Colored Giants were from Providence. There were two other Black teams in the city, the Providence Colored Giants and the Providence All-Stars. The three clubs played in the Eastern Colored League (1923-1928) against teams from Brooklyn, Philadelphia, and Boston. Robert Cvornyek and Fran Leazes, “The Price of Admission: Daddy Black, Big Dan Whitehead, and the Money Game,” Rhode Island History Journal, vol. 77, no. 2 (Winter-Spring 2020), 52. https://issuu.com/rihs/docs/rih_77.2_spreads_high
34 Lancaster. Researchers trying to find any such game have come up empty.
35 “Rock’s All Stars Will Play in Moosup Sunday,” Norwich Bulletin (Norwich, Connecticut), September 10, 1921: 10.
36 “Karpe’s Comment,” Buffalo News, June 3, 1922: 16. Murphy later told Elizabeth Williams, “Do you know how I kept in training? You’d never guess – sweeping and beating rugs, and chopping wood, too. Chopping wood keeps one fit for running round the bases or driving a fly to centre field. Yes, traveling on the road was pretty strenuous, but I was always rough and ready, and could take it. It didn’t bother me a bit. In fact, after playing a double-header, I was no more tired than at the start of the game.” Williams.
37 “Meet Miss Murphy, 1B,” Boston Globe, May 24, 1922: 11. A large photograph accompanied the article.
38 “Girl Softball Player Here Recalls ‘Lizzie Murphy’,” Fitchburg Sentinel, July 20, 1966: 10.
39 He added, “Personal publicity never cause her to change the size of her cap. She was polite to the press, but she never went looking for an interview.” Reynolds, 13.
40 “Woman on First in Game at Ware.” A large photograph of Murphy in a batting stance accompanied the article. The next day’s Republican had a story and box score. Ware pummeled the Independents, 13-1. She was 0-for-3, listed in the as “M’s M’y.” The article said her play had been “excellent” and equal to, if not better than, that of her box score teammates. See “Providence No Match for Ware,” Springfield Republican, May 31, 1922: 12.
41 A player named Rivard ran for her (perhaps as a courtesy runner), but she continued to play in the game. The ovation she received on coming to bat was “the greatest…ever tendered at Quincy. It looked as though the cheering would never stop.” “Lizzie Murphy Stars as Fore River Wins Game,” Quincy Patriot (Quincy, Massachusetts), July 7, 1922: 6.
42 “Lizzie Murphys Slam All-Stars,” Boston Globe, July 12, 1922; 9. See also “Providence 4, South Boston 4,” Evening Bulletin (Providence, Rhode Island), June 27, 1922: sec. 3, 6.
43 “Newton,” Boston Globe, July 15, 1922: 6.
44 “Lizzie Murphy Gets Two Hits, Providence Wins,” Boston Globe, July 18, 1922: 7.
45 “Lizzie Murphy Starts Rally with 2-Bagger,” Boston Post, July 18, 1922: 11.
46 “Girl Diamond Player Shines,” Boston Post, June 18, 1922: 22.
47 “See Famous Lizzie Murphy at the Opera House Tonight,” Bangor Daily News, August 2, 1922: 2.
48 “Lizzie Stars,” San Francisco Chronicle, August 24, 1923: 2H. See also “Lizzie Murphy Signs Contract,” Fall River Globe, April 13, 1923: 20.
49 “Lizzie Aspires to Major Team,” Milwaukee Journal, August 31, 1923: 46. The Olean, New York Times Herald said she “has been making every possible contact to connect with a big-league team.” See “Sport SnapShots,” Times Herald, October 24, 1923: 6. Also see “Girl Would Play in Majors,” Miami Herald, October 30, 1923: 10; “Girl Wants Pro Berth,” South Bend Tribune, November 9, 1923: sec. 2, 8.
50 “All-Stars of Boston Win, Lizzie Murphy Injured,” Boston Globe, July 23, 1923: 8. Her team won the game, 6-2.
51 “Lizzie Murphy’s Team Beats Dorchester, 9-3,” Boston Globe, August 15, 1923: 11.
52 “Lizzie Murphy Spiked, Has to Quit Ball Game,” Boston Globe, August 17, 1923; 11.
53 “Lizzie Murphy Hits Double, But Carrs Lose,” Boston Globe, August 24, 1923: 10.
54 “Reading Defeats Carr’s All-Stars,” Boston Globe, May 31, 1924; 4. The subhead read: “‘Lizzie’ Murphy’s Clever First-Sacking Features.”
55 “‘Liz’ Murphy and Her Gang Coming Here,” Quincy Patriot Ledger (Quincy, Massachusetts), July7, 1925: 2.
56 “Lizzie Murphy’s Team Coming Here,” Evening Gazette (Worcester, Massachusetts), June 22, 1926: 14.
57 “Fitchburgs Take One, Drop One in Independence Day Tilts; Red Caps Are Good Bell Hops,” Fitchburg Sentinel, July 6, 1926: 8.
58 “Lizzie Murphy Gets Two, But Club Loses,” Boston Herald, April 24, 1927: 29.
59 “Sports in the News,” Newport Daily News, June 25, 1965: 16.
60 Jim Russell, “The Night Babe Threw Her High, Hard One,” Philadelphia Inquirer, September 28, 1956: 38.
61 Reynolds, 14.
62 “I do have the articles which mention she was to play versus a Black team, but nothing about her actually playing in that game. I think many of these myths are just that – myths, and as often happens, they have been passed along as fact, from newspaper articles to Lou Gorman’s book High and Inside.” Email to author from Jay Hurd, May 27, 2021.
63 “Lizzie Murphy to Play in Marlboro,” Worcester Evening Gazette, August 26, 1933: 2.
64 Bill Parrillo, “Oldtime ballpark survives behind glitter and glamour of Newport,” Hartford Courant, August 9, 1987: H6.
65 One source referring to both Pete Wood and Bill Stewart as teammates of Murphy’s is Jim Morse, “Tim’s McCoy’s Still Trouping,” Boston Herald Traveler, August 24, 1969: sec 1, 21. For Stewart’s extensive professional history, see his Sporting News umpire card on Retrosheet at: https://www.retrosheet.org/TSNUmpireCards/Stewart-William.jpg.
66 Gai Ingham Berlage, Women in Baseball: The Forgotten History (Westport, Connecticut: Praeger, 1994), 55.
68 His mother’s name was spelled Exzila in his obituary. “Walter E. Larivee,” Providence Journal, September 11, 1944: 10.
71 Reynolds, 15.
73 “‘Lizzie’ Murphy Larivee, 70, Onetime Ballplayer, Dies.”
74 “‘Lizzie Murphy’ Rites Today,” Springfield Union, July 30, 1964: 44.
75 Thanks to the Associated Press, this event received coverage nationwide, e.g., “Warren Honors Memory of Fenway’s Female Slugger,” Naples (Florida) Daily News, April 10, 1994: 3C; “Female Player Honored,” St. Cloud (Minnesota) Times, April 10, 1994: 9C; “Rhode Island Woman Honored for Being One of the Boys,” Oakland Tribune, April 12, 1994: B2. However, it drew only a brief mention in the Boston Globe, buried in a regular feature about the Sox. Nick Cafardo, “The Perfect Hosts: Boston Tries to Extend its Fenway Streak,” Boston Globe, April 15, 1994: 57.
Mary Elizabeth Murphy
April 13, 1894 at Warren, Rhode Island (US)
July 27, 1964 at Warren, Rhode Island (US)
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