Warren, Rhode Island’s Lizzie Murphy Made Baseball History
Spring training baseball has begun, and we’re in the midst of Women’s History Month. You might be wondering what one has to do with the other, but then you probably don’t know the story of Warren, Rhode Island’s Lizzie Murphy.
Murphy, born in 1894, dubbed herself the “Queen of Baseball,” and she wasn’t exaggerating – although she did have a penchant for self-marketing. Murphy played professional baseball for 17 seasons and was a career .300 hitter. She was the first player in baseball history – male or female – to face off against both National League and American League players. She also played in the Negro Leagues, too.
Yet if you look at her early life, you wouldn’t think becoming a legendary baseball player would be a home run.
Murphy was a lifelong athlete, quitting school at age 12 to work in the mills of Warren and playing on some of their ball teams. At 17, she turned pro, competing on semi-pro teams like the Providence Independents and later, Ed Carr’s Traveling All-Stars out of Boston.
She played all over the U.S. and Canada, drawing large crowds to see her baseball prowess while also having to fight to ensure she got paid for bringing in those large crowds. The crowds could easily pick her out on the field at all times because she wore her full name on the front and back of her jersey.
Murphy eventually signed on with the American League All-Stars, and faced off against the Boston Red Sox at a charity exhibition game at Fenway Park in 1922, becoming the first woman to compete against a major league team.
Then in 1928, she played for the National League All-Stars against the Boston Braves, becoming the first player of any gender to face off against players from both leagues.
Murphy also played in a barnstorming game against players from the Negro Leagues, getting a hit off legendary pitcher Satchel Paige. She also had a stint playing for the Cleveland Giants of the Negro Leagues during a game played in Rhode Island.
In 1935, at the age of 41, Murphy retired from baseball. Two years later she was married, and she remained a housewife until her husband passed away and she returned to work in the mills.
Nine years after Murphy’s retirement, the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League was founded, which would later be memorialized in the hit film A League of Their Own. Yet nobody has turned the story of Lizzie Murphy, the true “Queen of Baseball,” into a movie – yet.