MAHONEY, EMILY MARIE [RED]

Manuel Grajales
Emily Marie [Red] Mahoney (1924–2016).
Houston native Marie "Red" Mahoney played as an outfielder in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League in 1947 and 1948. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

MAHONEY, EMILY MARIE [RED] (1924–2016). Emily Marie “Red” Mahoney, an outfielder who was one of three Texas women and only Houstonian to play in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, was born in Houston, Texas, on September 21, 1924. She was the daughter of Richard Joseph Mahoney and Emily Thresia (Summers) Mahoney. She had two siblings—Richard J. Mahoney, Jr., and Nora Mahoney-Dietz.

Nicknamed “Red” for the color of her hair, Mahoney excelled in athletics as a youth, beginning with softball when she was nine. She also played basketball, volleyball, and tennis in the junior leagues of Houston. At the age of sixteen she began to play on the regional softball circuit and played for St. Joseph’s softball team as a pitcher. In 1941 Mahoney joined the Texas state softball champions the Richey Grocerettes and played third base and outfield. After graduating from San Jacinto High School, she continued to play softball in Houston and became a Texas state All-Star. Red Mahoney was known for her defensive prowess, speed, and athleticism in three different positions before fully converting to the outfield. She also played basketball for the Richey Grocerettes basketball team in local and state competitions during softball’s off-season. In 1947 Mahoney learned about tryouts for the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL) from South Bend Blue Sox catcher Mary Baker, who urged Mahoney to attend. She left Houston in early 1947 to tryout in Havana, Cuba, where the league held spring training and exhibition games.

Mahoney left Houston for the AAGPBL Spring Training in Havana as one of 200 women from the United States and Cuba trying to make the league. She was chosen to join the league and assigned to the South Bend Blue Sox in Indiana as a reserve outfielder. Mahoney played 47 games of a 112-game season as the Sox’s fourth outfielder in 1947. Despite limited action, she contributed a home run, thirteen runs batted in, a .204 batting average, and was fifth in the league in triples with seven. In a June 30, 1947, game against the Racine Belles, Mahoney contributed to the Blue Sox’s 11–3 rout of the Belles by hitting a two-run triple. The Blue Sox finished the season in fourth place and were eliminated from the post-season by the eventual World Champions, the Grand Rapids Chicks, three games to two. 

During the off-season, Mahoney stayed in Indiana and worked at Western Auto Company while she played local league basketball. She continued as a fourth outfielder with the South Bend Blue Sox at the beginning of the 1948 season before being traded mid-season to the Fort Wayne Daisies. Mahoney played in 56 games of a 126-game season for both the Blue Sox and the Daisies. She struggled offensively in 1948, hitting for a combined .140 batting average, though she did provide key base running for her teams and stole fourteen bases. On defense, she excelled and committed only two errors. As a member of the Fort Wayne Daisies, she was part of the team’s post-season run. Despite Fort Wayne having a losing record for the season, they were part of the newly-installed playoff system that required eight teams to participate. The Daisies swept the first two teams they faced before losing to the Rockford Peaches in the 1948 Championship final, four games to two. Mahoney was named to the AAGPBL All-Star team for that season.

Mahoney left the league after the 1948 season and went to work for the Eastman Kodak Company as a microfilm technician from 1951 until her retirement in 1983. She continued her athletic and competitive pursuits, playing softball, basketball, and bowling in Houston. She continued as an outfielder and utility player for local softball teams the Richey Grocerettes, La Rosettes, the Houston Lassies, and the Houston Blues. She won all-state honors as an outfielder, with a reputation for good defense, speed, and timely hitting. During a stretch in 1949, Mahoney’s home runs were key to victories for the Richey’s team. The Richey Grocerettes and Houston Blues were the regional softball champions during the years she played and represented the Houston area in state softball tournaments. She briefly continued as a basketball player for the Richey Grocerettes team and contributed to their continued local and state excellence. Beginning in the 1950s, Mahoney became an accomplished bowler for thirty years and won individual and team tournaments in Houston. She also was a proficient local golfer, participating in tournaments and maintaining practice through her post-retirement employment at the Texaco Golf Course in Houston.

Mahoney at 2014 Astros Game.
"Red" Mahoney throws the first pitch at a Houston Astros game in 2014. Photo by Karen Warren, Houston Chronicle. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

In 1988 Mahoney was part of the Women in Baseball permanent exhibit in the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York. News media and Major League Baseball honored the women through articles about their experiences and stadium events that commemorated their participation in baseball history. Renewed interest in the AAGPBL through the exhibit and the film A League of Their Own (1992) saw continued tributes by Major League Baseball teams for former AAGPBL players, with Mahoney partaking as an ambassador for the league. She participated in the Girls of Summer exhibit in 1998 with fellow AAGPBL players at the Legends of the Game Museum in Arlington. In 1993 Mahoney was diagnosed with breast cancer but continued her daily activities without difficulty after treatment. Later in her life, she continued to serve as an ambassador for the AAGPBL and baseball and participated as a member of the Larry Dierker chapter of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR); the chapter named an award in her honor. Mahoney threw out the first pitch for the Houston Astros in 2014. She was inducted, along with fellow Texas-based AAGPBL players Ruth “Tex” Lessing and Alva Jo “Tex” Fischer, into the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006. The three women were introduced for induction by former Houston Astros player Casey Candaele, whose mother, Helen Callaghan, played five years in the league. On January 23, 2016, Marie “Red” Mahoney passed away in Houston, Texas. She was survived by her nieces, nephews, and extended family. 

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Merrie A. Fidler, The Origins and History of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc., 2006). Houston Chronicle, July 26, 1941; April 12, 1942; July 10, 30, 1949; April 18, 1954;  January 29, 1962; January 25, 26, 2016. W. C. Madden, The Women of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League: A Biographical Dictionary (North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc., 1997). Official Website of the AAGPBL: Marie Mahoney (http://www.aagpbl.org/profiles/marie-mahoney-red/56), accessed May 15, 2018. Racine Journal Times, July 1, 1947. Jim Sargent, We Were the All American Girls: Interviews with Players of the AAGPBL, 1943–1954 (North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc., 2013). Jim Sargent and Robert M. Gorman. The South Bend Blue Sox: A History of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League Team and Its Players, 1943–1954 (North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc., 2011).

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Handbook of Texas Online, Manuel Grajales, "MAHONEY, EMILY MARIE [RED] ," accessed November 20, 2018, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fmaho.

Uploaded on September 11, 2018. Modified on September 12, 2018. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

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