Queen of Diamonds: Edith Houghton and the Rise and Fall of Women's Baseball

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In the 1920s, women’s semi-professional baseball teams known as Bloomer Girls were a popular form of entertainment throughout the United States. One of the best female players of this era was Edith Houghton. Houghton had a successful baseball career and even travelled to Japan in 1925 to play baseball on a female team known as the Philadelphia Bobbies. By the 1930s, however, women were largely expected to play softball. Despite a brief revival of women’s baseball during the 1940s, the idea that women play softball and men play baseball has largely persisted. An analysis of Houghton’s career reveals the sociological factors that allowed women to play baseball in the 1920s and forced women into softball during the 1930s. The presence and rejection of female baseball players parallels broader changes in American gender relations, and illustrates the socially constructed nature of sport