Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Lady Ump

It's hard to know where to start telling aunt Amanda's story. She was definitely a woman before her time and I am sad that I didn't live close enough to her to get know her personally. I have of course heard about her all my life as she was my grandmother's favorite.

First I think you should know that the family history story says she was the first woman umpire in the world and the first paid umpire in the US. She is also reputed to have at one time held the world records for shotput, hurdle, baseball throw and sprint. The story also is told of her saving a man's life by giving artificial respiration when she was an instructor at a summer camp. Aunt Amanda's dad was Phillip H. B. Clement, known as Hank, and her mom was Harriet (Allen) Clement and they were considered early settlers of the Dakota Territories.

Her Brother Allen actually loved baseball and not only played the game but managed a farm league team around the turn of the century. The team was the Wagner team from South Dakota. Amanda was often the umpire when her brothers team played but the stories say she never gave him a break. I guess he couldn't worry to much about that because when a team was short a man or two (his included) it was not unusual for Amanda to be asked to play.

I have a photo copy of Amanda's scrap book with articles and pictures dating from 1904 till her death in 1971 and even a few added later by her nephew E.F. Clement. She was a strong figure in girls sports including tennis, and basketball. She officiated from 1904 till about 1908 and was generally the first one called when there was a semi pro game in the area that needed an ump. After that she coached basketball and worked the the YWCA setting up their sports program.

Most of the writings that describe aunt Amanda focus on her uniform. She wore a long dark blue skirt, starched white blouse, a black tie and baseball cap. Extra ball were tucked in the skits waistband. I believe the uniform helped her keep the unruly players in line. My description of her would be a tall striking young woman with beautiful long dark hair and a smile that made you smile back. She was a real beauty but being a strong woman she didn't take any guff from the guys.

Being such a beauty might be part of the reason there were poems written about her by Will Chamberlain.

E.F. Clement (uncle Clem) worked very hard after aunt Amanda died to have her included in the Cooperstown Baseball Hall of Fame. It took many years and much correspondence before my uncle Clem made the family dream come true. Aunt Amanda was included in the first exhibit of "Women in Baseball" in November 1988.

Of course our family is proud of her but for me she exhibited the best of being a woman and being strong enough to walk her own path. I sometimes wonder what she would do in today's world with her love of athleticism and her support of other people.

To learn more about Amanda Clement you can find her story in "Women at Play" by Barbara Gregorich, the April 5, 1982 Sports Illustrated magazine page 81, "Moments in the Sun" by Mark McGuire and Michael Sean Gormley




1 comment:

  1. Gail,
    What a great story and how proud your family must be of your Aunt Amanda! I love learning about family history-it makes me feel connected to those ancestors of mine I never knew!