You Go, Girl! The Kid from Diamond Street: The Extraordinary Story of Baseball Legend Edith Houghton by Audrey Vernick
EDITH HOUGHTON USED TO SAY,
"I GUESS I WAS BORN WITH A BASEBALL IN MY HAND."
And little Edith certainly had baseball on her mind from the beginning. The last of ten children, the Houghtons had their own team, and Edith was in the middle of baseball games as soon as she could shag a ball. She insisted on wearing a baseball uniform for her official six-year-old photograph. She was always up for a game, and at night she watched the night ballgames across the street, played under the flickering electric lamps.
By the time Edith was ten years old, she was a local Philly phenomenon, "the kid from Diamond Street" who played like a pro. In fact, she tried out for the Philadelphia women's professional team, "the Bobbies," named for the wildly popular "boyish bob" hairstyle that was all the rage in 1922. The Bobbies were a group of older teens and twenty-something girls, but Edith made the team easily with a starting position at shortstop. Getting a short bob was fine with Edith, but she had some trouble with the
EDITH'S CAP KEPT FALLING OFF UNTIL SHE SAFETY-PINNED IT TO A SMALLER SIZE. AND HER TOO-LONG SLEEVES KEPT GETTING IN THE WAY UNTIL SHE ROLLED THEM UP.
NEWSPAPER REPORTERS WROTE ABOUT THE INCREDIBLE PLAYS--AT BAT AND IN THE FIELD--OF THE GIRL THEY CALLED "THE KID."
But The Kid just wanted to play the game, and play she did. In 1925, when Edith was thirteen, the famous Bobbies were invited to barnstorm Japan, to play against boys' and men's teams on a two-month tour. They took the train cross-country to Seattle to board the ocean liner President Jefferson. At first almost everyone, even Edith, was seasick, but they soon rallied, practicing their skills on the deck during the day, and teaching an English earl how to dance the Charleston in the salon at night. On tour the Bobbies enjoyed rickshaw rides and eating with chopsticks and played for huge crowds, tens of thousands of fans, winning a majority of their games and leaving Japan even more baseball-crazy than they found it.
Edith didn't retire from her game when she returned home. She played for years with other women's teams, and when World War II and the Korean War came along, she served as a WAVE in the U.S. Navy. And between stints in the Navy, she worked as a baseball scout for the Philadelphia Fillies and earned recognition in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Audrey Vernick's lively forthcoming picture biography, The Kid from Diamond Street: The Extraordinary Story of Baseball Legend Edith Houghton (Houghton Mifflin Clarion, 2016), catches the spirit of the kid who lived in the days when there were no places for girls in baseball--no T-ball teams, no leagues, not even a position for females in Little League--a kid who ignored prevailing attitudes just because she loved to play the game. Vernick, who enjoys writing stories of feisty girls, tells this one with a minimum of fuss and bother over Edith's ground-breaking career, emphasizing instead the joys of the game. Steve Salerno's lively illustrations make the most of the spirit of the changing times, the exuberant 1910s and 1920s, when spirit and spunk took young women into the midstream of American life, with emphasis on the joyful and humorous adventures of being a baseball pioneer.
For more about women in baseball, pair this one with Marissa Moss's Mighty Jackie: The Strike-Out Queen or Shana Corey's Players In Pigtails.