Murphy, Lizzie (1894–1964)
Murphy, Lizzie (1894–1964)
Pioneer American baseball player who played first base for Ed Carr's All-Stars of Boston. Born Mary Elizabeth Murphy on April 13, 1894, possibly in Warren, Rhode Island; died on July 27, 1964; married Walter Larivee, in 1937 (died); no children.
One of six children of an Irish mill worker, Lizzie Murphy was an all-around athlete as a child, but her interest soon narrowed to baseball. At 12, she went to work at the woolen mills, but dreamed of baseball and spent her free time on the diamond. By age 15, she was playing on several amateur teams, although she sometimes doubted whether she should continue. "I about decided that baseball wasn't a game for a girl and that I'd quit," she later recalled. "But then I went to watch one of the games and got so excited I couldn't stay out. When I see a batter swinging wild or stepping back from the ball it makes me crazy to take a turn at the plate and line one out."
Murphy honed her skills on several semipro teams, playing first base, then moved up to the Providence Independents. In 1918, she signed a contract with Ed Carr's All-Stars of Boston, sometimes called the Boston All-Stars. It was a step up for Murphy, who traded her bloomers for an actual baseball uniform, with a peaked cap under which she tucked her long, reddishbrown hair. Unlike her male teammates, she had her name emblazoned back and front on her heavy wool shirt. so that everyone would know that she was indeed the woman they had come to see. Murphy was such a drawing card for the team that owner Ed Carr used her picture on his stationery. When people criticized Carr for exploiting a woman who probably could not even play, he replied: "She swells attendance, and she's worth every cent I pay her. But most important, she produces the goods." Actually, Carr did not pay her or any of his players all that much, and Murphy was forced to supplement her income by selling autographed photos of herself between innings.
For 17 years, Murphy made her living playing baseball with the All-Stars, proof enough that she delivered the goods. "No ball is too hard for her to scoop out of the dirt," Carr once boasted to reporters, "and when it comes to batting,
she packs a mean wagon tongue." Murphy was especially proud of the single she hit off the great Satchel Paige during a barnstorming game.
In 1922, Murphy played in Fenway Park, in a charity game pitting the Boston Red Sox against a group of American League and New England All-Stars. She played another major league exhibition game in 1928, this time with the National League All-Stars against the Boston Braves. These two appearances made her not only the first woman to play for a major league team in an exhibition game, but the first person, man or woman, to play with both American League and National League All-Star teams.
Lizzie Murphy retired from baseball in 1935, at the age of 41. Unfortunately, there was no fat pension check waiting for her at the end of her career, so she resorted to cleaning houses, quahogging, and clamming to make a living. She married in 1937, but her husband died a few years later. A woman of great pride and spirit, she died on July 27, 1964, at age 70.
Gregorich, Barbara. Women at Play: The Story of Women in Baseball. NY: Harcourt Brace, 1993.