Adept
Find Us Socially:
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedin

Neighbor to Neighbor Oral Histories: Marie Mahoney

Interviewers Marsha Franty and Mike Vance spoke with Emily Marie Mahoney, also known as Red, and asked her to share her memories of Houston as well as her experiences as an outfielder in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League in 1947 and 1948. You may be familiar with the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League from the feature film A League of Their Own. Click the Play button to stream the recording of the interview, and follow along with the transcript below.

Mahoney: So I’m eighty‑eight now. It was all woods. The city limits was right back here at Cohn, and that really wasn’t a street.

Marie "Red" Mahoney's baseball card from her days in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.
Marie “Red” Mahoney’s baseball card from her days in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.

Franty: Oh my goodness.

Mahoney: Okay.

Vance: So we’re—I just wanted to mention—we are talking to Red Mahoney, and it’s Marsha Franty and Mike Vance.

Mahoney: I don’t know if you—if that’s faded out or not. You know, it’s a bit low.

Vance: I should have brought my—

Mahoney: That’s—the first team—well, I started out—my dad—

Franty: That’s what I want to know is when you—what’s your earliest like recollection of playing ball?

Mahoney: Oh, I can remember pretty good. I got—that’s something I do have. Right back here, our lot went all the way through to Knox. And daddy worked for the city—the fire department—and so afternoons off, when he had time, we’d go out and he throw tennis balls all the way. And I’d run and catch them. But before then, we would have us—get us up a team out here and play Faith Home when Faith Home—I don’t think they call it Faith Home—what do they call it now?—at Shepherd and Memorial there. Where children go when their parents can’t—

Franty: DePelchin.

Mahoney: There you go.

Franty: I think it’s DePelchin.

Mahoney: We’d get us a team, and we’d go down there and play them.

Franty: Really?

Mahoney: And of course all—

Franty: Just—boys and girls?

Mahoney: Well, uh—

Franty: Or just the girls?

Mahoney: Just—just boys.

Franty: Just the boys.

Vance: And what year would this have been?

Mahoney: Yeah, I was the one that got it up. I—my brother and I—we—he and I was just really good buddy budds. So we’d get us up a team, and we’d go around and play. And we’d make us a softball field right on the other side of Memorial. Memorial Drive wasn’t even in when I first moved out here. I can remember them putting the rough street in, taking trees down, and we used to walk to the picnic area. We called it the log cabin. They had a log cabin out there at that time. And also I was in the Scouts, and we had—they’d camp out there. And I remember them bringing this water and a horse and buggy out there.

Vance: What year would we be talking about here? What year?

Franty: Late ‘30s?

Mahoney: Good night—back in the ‘30s.

Vance: Late ‘30s?

Franty: You were nine when you moved here, so that would have been ’33—?

Mahoney: Three, four, somewheres in there—

Franty: Mid ‘30s.

Mahoney: And I remember riding the bus to school. I went to school at St. Joseph’s down there on Houston Avenue. And I remember riding and see ’33 on the license plates.

Franty: Really?

Vance: Y’all moved directly into this house then when you—?

Mahoney: Not this one, no. The houses out here—the army camp—Camp Logan?

Franty: Camp Logan.

Mahoney: All right, when they closed—shut it down—they took barracks. There was barracks there, and the house we lived in—they take two barracks, put them together, stuccoed outside. So—and then here, I see, we demolished that house in ’98. It was about to fall down. But the inside walls was petrified. You couldn’t hardly drive a nail in them. But all the outside, the termites had got to it. But nearly all the houses out here—that’s what people did. They—I guess bought the lots and then put this—and then after we moved here, then daddy bought the lot and all.

Franty: Bought this lot.

Mahoney: Yeah—because I really liked it. We went all the way through—all the other places. So we tore the old house down. I’d say it took them about ten minutes. And down it went. And then my nephew out in California, my brother’s number two son, built this one for me. Well, I sold the back lot, and he paid to have this built, which was nice of him. But back in the olden days, we would—especially right across Memorial, back in there, right where the bank is now was a lot. And we’d go—that’s where our football field was. And then we would go out to—it was the old polo field. Do you remember—you know where the old polo field was?

Vance: Uh‑hunh (affirmative).

Mahoney: All right, when I was first coming up there, the polo field was my track, like they’ve got Memorial now. I would run all the way around the old polo field. That’s how—because I loved to run. I mean, that was my favorite thing to do was run. I could run and run.

Franty: Really? That played out well for you then when you started running the bases.

Mahoney: Yes, it sure did.

Vance: So when you started playing, it was just you and a bunch of boys then?

Mahoney: Yeah. Around here, yeah. We’d come home from school—well, back then, yeah. A bunch of kids lived—because there was just homes just down here and they had some kids and back over on Memorial. We just got ourself a team. And, like I say, we played whatever—whoever we could play. But I was—I went through the fifth grade at St. Joseph—no, through the fourth grade—because sixth grade started at Washington. I went to Memorial one year. And so I tried—I went out because they was wanting, I guess—I don’t know—the boys—when they go out and try for their softball team. Well, back then, they had some pretty fast pitches, so I didn’t—the guys threw much faster than what we was looking at. It was all softball—underhand—you know? So I was coming up, and then back in about ’39—that was Puddin Stech. She’s in these pictures here. I don’t know how in the world I was—

Franty: Oh, I see—

Mahoney: Yeah. I had a 277 one time so I kept that.

Vance: I don’t blame you. I’d have kept it, too.

Mahoney: Yeah. I just—coming up—these were two that played after I played. That’s Mary Lou Zepeda and—what’s the other one’s name?

Franty: Were these Houston gals, too?

Mahoney: Yeah, that was—that had to be back—

Franty: Mazurek—Mimi Mazurek.

Mahoney: Yeah—Mimi—yeah. That had to be back after I come back from playing pro, because when I left—okay—

Franty: Houston blues—

Mahoney: Well, I get all this mixed up. All right, we started out as kids playing ball around here. And then we’d play football of course. Oh, I was going to tell you about—it was my first year—I went to San Jacinto High School because they wouldn’t—I was supposed to go—back then, they had districts, where you had to go. I was supposed to go to Sam Houston. They didn’t have a gym—

San Jacinto High School in Houston, Texas, circa 1938.
San Jacinto High School in Houston, Texas, circa 1938.

Franty: (talking to the dog) Come here, Lulu.

Mahoney: What did you do, open the door? They used the Y for the gym, but I wanted outdoors—

Vance: I’ll get it.

Mahoney: So, anyway—and Reagan was too full, couldn’t get in—

Franty: Come here, Lulu.

Vance: Come on.

Mahoney: She can come on in if she wants to. Reagan was too full at that time. I couldn’t get in to Reagan.

Franty: Was that when you could choose where you went to high school?

Mahoney: No. I was supposed to go to Sam Houston. I didn’t want to. So I thought about going to Reagan, and they said, “No, it’s full. You can’t go to Reagan.” So then San Jacinto is where—and I’m glad—we always called it San Jew‑cinta. But they were really good friends, I’ll tell you. And there—oh, it was first year—the first time mother and dad’s telling me something, I’d always do it. I don’t know why, but anyway I did. They told me to stay, not to go down there and play football with those boys. But I did. And everybody’s going out and running, and my brother hit me right below the knee. And that kneecap came all the way—you could put that much hand between my leg and the kneecap. Boy, I was down on the ground. And at that time—you remember the Tree Army that Roosevelt got up during the depression or at the end of it?

Vance: Heard of it, yeah.

Mahoney: Okay, well, we had one guy. He just got back from the Tree Army. They’re the ones that went around and built the parks up. And he stood there, and he looked. Then he reached down and twisted it, and it went back in. Well, then it stopped hurting.

Franty: Oh, my God!

Mahoney: But I didn’t want to come home and tell my mother. In fact, I think—oh, I finally told them because the knee got that big. I couldn’t walk. So I had to tell them. They called the doctor, and back at that time, women wasn’t supposed to be playing sports—you can imagine how back in the late ‘30s—

Franty: Yeah.

Mahoney: So this doctor, he come in—he was a specialist—put me to sleep, took the knee back out, and put it back together. Kept me in gym for one whole year. I couldn’t—I had to go to—what do they call it?—that’s where you didn’t play ball or anything. You’d play tenny court and badminton.

Franty: Yeah, non‑contact.

Mahoney: Yeah, that’s right. And so a whole year I had to sit out. And then the next year when we got started back in—so I missed one year of basketball. But two years later, I was playing basketball with Annie—oh, well, I’ll show you here—Staruska. And she was a natural.

Vance: So you were playing basketball and softball at San Jac?

Mahoney: Whatever sport was in, we did.

Franty: You did it all.

Mahoney: You know, sports back then was it. You had football. Then you had baseball. And in between volleyball. And after volleyball—let’s see, we got tennis in. We played it all. Whichever team was in. Now this is Puddin Stech back then. When I went off to play baseball, she and Annie Staruska went to New—yeah—New Orleans to play softball. No, Stech went up to New York to play—Chicago—to play fast pitch. And Annie went to New Orleans Jax. And then this was Tommy. Do you know anything about Ray Carnegie or Morris Frank?

Vance: Oh, Morris Frank, sure, yeah.

Mahoney: Yeah, well, Morris Frank and Ray Carnegie were the big sports writers back then. And they would always—and this was all going on at Sportsman’s Park then. Ray Carnegie wanted Tommy to pitch every night because when she pitched, the place was crowded, because she was just that good. And so they got in a big argument. Did you ever hear York—what was Mr. York’s first name?—he had York Tool out here on Washington—

Vance: I remember York Tool.

Mahoney: It was right down there. Well, he’s the one that built Sportsman’s Park. So Ray Carnegie and—who’d I say?—

Vance: Morris Frank.

Mahoney: —Morris Frank got in a big argument as to who they wanted to play. So Mr. Carnegie said, well, he’d just shut the park down. That was it. And it was the best softball field. It was the Little Buff Stadium is what it was.

Franty: Little Buff Stadium.

Vance: So what years was that open?

Mahoney: That—let’s see—I went off in ’47, so that had to be ’41, ’42, around in there—or ’40, ’41, ’42.

Franty:

00:13:14 The men’s teams played there as well.

Mahoney: Oh, yes.

Franty: And the women’s teams.

Mahoney: What was—Bobby Dirden, Slater Martin—Slater Martin?

Franty: Uh‑hunh (affirmative).

Mahoney: Was the pitcher. And what was— 00:13:27 (s/l Samorano) was real, real good.

Vance: But it was just fast pitch softball only.

Mahoney: All—yes. Slow pitch is never—was never even thought of back then, you know? It was all—that’s when Tommy and Tommy and Ruby and—there was the shortstop—

Franty: Irene Cook? Irene Cook.

Mahoney: Cookie? Oh, okay. And this was—who’s this?

Franty: Ann Varner.

Mahoney: Okay, she was the third baseman, had a terrific arm. At the beginning of the season, Larkin Toler—he was our coach—he told her, “Don’t be throwing so hard until it warms up.” Well, a year later, she couldn’t even get to second base. That’s—that’s just how—and then this is the—

Franty: Toots—

Mahoney: That’s—

Franty: Toots Phipps.

Mahoney: Yeah. She’s the one I took her place because she was married and they was moving out of town. She played—back then they had a roving. When I first started playing softball, they had a roving infield—outfielder.

Vance: Outfielder.

Mahoney: And that’s what I played. I loved that because I could run and get the ball—but roving outfielder.

Vance: So the coach you mentioned, what was his name?

Mahoney: I had a picture in here I was going to—

Franty: Are any of these gals still around Houston?

Mahoney: Most of them are six foot under.

Franty: Really? Yeah. I almost hate to get the things from the SABR women’s things because they’re inevitably at this point—

Mahoney: I had a picture—I was just—I looked through this book. I haven’t seen it, and it’s just falling to pieces is what it’s doing.

Franty: I wonder if it would be possible to scan some of these pictures and preserve them that way.

Mahoney: Yeah.

Vance: I started to—I’ll be glad to come over and do that. I have a portable scanner.

Mahoney: Oh, okay.

Vance: And that way you can have the files, too.

Franty: That way you’d have them on a CD.

Mahoney: Yeah, whichever. Larkin, where’d you go, man?

Vance: What was his first name?

Mahoney: Was that—Ray Carnegie there, wasn’t it?

Franty: Morris Frank wrote this article.

Mahoney: Yeah, Morris, okay. And he wrote one up about us and Larkin back then.

Franty: Now, who was Larkin?

Mahoney: He was our coach.

Franty: The coach, okay.

Mahoney: Yeah.

Vance: Now, was there a sponsor?

Franty: It looks like Richey—

Mahoney: When I first started with it—the first year I played—it was Bashaw Grocery. It’s out on Harrisburg. I think it was—Canal—Canal. Well, when we get through here—we’ll come to it.

Franty: And I saw something that said Richey Girls or—was that—?

Mahoney: Yeah, and then the next year—Mr. Richey was Bashaw’s brother or brother‑in‑law or—so that’s who we played for most of the time was Mr. Richey—Richey Grocery. I thought we got our groceries free, but we didn’t.

Vance: Did you get any kind of things at all for—?

Mahoney: No, we sure didn’t. Well, we got—we didn’t have to pay for no trip or—remember when—well, you wouldn’t remember because it’s been gone that long—Oshman’s was right down there on—I used to wait for the bus to go—and we had to ride the bus to go to all these practices.

Franty: But they paid for the bus for you.

Mahoney: Well, mother used to really—we had a punch card to ride the bus back then. And she was starting a fuss because I was using my punch card to ride the bus. But Larkin would always bring us home, because it would be late—not real late but too late for young kids to be out on the golf course. But I’ll come to them in just a minute. All right, these are some more of the women that played. And like I say, Ruby’s gone, Tommy’s gone. She went pretty early. She come down with cancer. And then we was state champs.

Franty: Yeah? The Richey Girls.

Mahoney: Yeah, that was when we went to—that’s when we played down in the valley.

Franty: Now, when you went to go traveling like that, I’m sure they provided the bus for you.

Mahoney: Oh, yes. Yeah. Larkin and—they had a van like for the store. So when he said—

Franty: Pile in all the equipment?

Mahoney: When he said he’s going to leave at a certain time—because Puddin—and we had to ride the bus there. Nobody—kids back then didn’t have cars like they got. And we got off that bus. I think he must have saw us, though, because he started pulling out. So we had to run to get into the car. But now, y’all, this is—this is Sue Whisenhunt. She passed on a good while. Sis hadn’t been gone too long. I don’t know what this is. Cocoanut Grove fire—I don’t know—was that a nightclub somewhere—?

Vance: In Boston.

Mahoney: Where all those people got killed?

Vance: In Boston, yeah.

Mahoney: All right, there’s a nice write up about Puddin. Well, if you’re going to scan them, you want to just scan them and read all that later? Or do you want to kind of read it now?

Vance: No—we can read it later, but if you’ve got any comments about it, then—

Mahoney: Well, it’s been a long time since I’ve read it, but anyway, she was the best catcher. And Lettie and Flo Baker out of Canada—and she’s the one that in the “League of Their Own” made those fancy catches.

Franty: What did you think of that movie?

Mahoney: Well, I thought it was great. When I first heard Madonna was playing in it—I had me a heart attack. Man, she’s going to ruin the whole thing. But she did—she played a good part. Most of it—I think it was about ninety‑eight—maybe not ninety‑eight—but it was pretty close to being true. Now, when Madonna took them all out dancing that one night and got the chaperone sick—Faye Dancer—I can see her getting the chaperone—and that chaperone looked exactly like—she wasn’t very nice looking at all, I didn’t think. Back then, I thought, man, how did they get her? One that looked just like her! But I can see Faye Dancer—short in her sheets—is that what they did?

The Rockford Peaches of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League in the feature film "A League of Their Own."
The Rockford Peaches of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League in the feature film “A League of Their Own.”

Franty: Yeah, short‑sheet. We used to do that in camp. Some of my friends, yeah.

Mahoney: Is that right?

Franty: Many years later.

Mahoney: Really?

Franty: Oh, yeah. I did it to my roommate a couple of times.

Mahoney: Girl Scout camp?

Franty: Actually, I went to Camp Fire Girls camp.

Mahoney: Which camp?

Franty: Camp Fire Girls. That’s something we have up north. It’s like Girl Scouts.

Mahoney: Oh, Camp Fire, yeah. Yeah, well, back then, Scouts—that’s where I went for two years. We had our camp at Tejas on Clear Lake right across from Boys Home. It was on that side of the lake, and we were over here.

Vance: Right.

Mahoney: And that was fine. That was two of the best years of my life other than pro ball. It was—I really enjoyed it.

Franty: When you were playing, you were saying about the girl maybe short‑sheeting some of the other girls or playing tricks—

Mahoney: Oh, yeah, yeah.

Franty: Did they ever do that like they did in the movie, sneak out and go dancing?

Mahoney: Oh, I’m sure. I never did it—I never did that. I never did know how. And nobody never did do it to me. But I don’t know exactly—what do they do? Tie knots in the sheet or something?

Franty: No, you just fold the sheets up so that when you go to slide your feet in—

Vance: You can’t get in.

Franty: (talking to dog) Come on, little girl.

Mahoney: Are you coming in or not? She don’t like strangers. Okay, there’s—that’s our pitcher, and this one was for Jax Beer. Now, those were the two teams—Richey Girls or Bashaw and Richey. Jax was a big opponent then.

Franty: Was that the Jax from New Orleans?

Mahoney: Well, it’s—Jax Beer used to be big here. They had a brewery.

Franty: Oh, they did? Okay.

Mahoney: In fact, later on, after I came back, and these kids was—they thought they were hotshots, but in my opinion, they didn’t play baseball like we did. So Jax sponsored that team.

Franty: Okay, so when you were playing in the Texas softball, this is the sort of uniform you wore, with the pants pegged up over your socks?

Mahoney: Yeah, this was before—a little bit before my time. This was—well, it was ’41, no, it wasn’t—March—anyway, The Chronicle used to run a brown sheet in the paper.

Franty: Yeah. Yeah.

Mahoney: And this is all out of that. I don’t think I’m in there anywhere—

Vance: How many teams—

Mahoney:

And that—pardon?

Vance: I’m sorry. How many teams were in the league?

Mahoney: Well, you know, I think this last stuff, this good stuff there, was going on long before I got there. I think it was back in the ‘30s—or maybe from the Bloomer Girls.

Franty: Really?

Mahoney: Because they had been playing out there and at that—when I first started, it had, I think, four teams in the league—or maybe more, I don’t remember. But then it started dropping off, and they started—I think lowering the size of the softball, because it got to be just a pitcher’s game. That’s about all what it is now. Well, they’re trying to move the pitchers back far enough where it’ll be more than a pitcher’s game. But—and then it finally just died out. I don’t really know—

Franty: So you’re saying they made the ball a little smaller because it was a pitcher’s game?

Mahoney: I don’t—remember the big old six—are you from around Chicago?

Franty: No.

Mahoney: Remember that big old ball the used to—and they had to because they didn’t have no space to play. They had a big old softball. And they couldn’t—you couldn’t hit it—it wouldn’t go very far because the field wasn’t very big. They just would play on a vacant lot. And it was a great big old softball. And then it gradually came down to a—what is the size of a softball now? Do you know?

Vance: Not off hand, I don’t.

Franty: No, I don’t. I don’t, but it easily fits in the palm of your hand.

Mahoney: Well, I can tell you one thing. I wish they had been yellow when I played. Oh, man, would that have been fun.

Franty: You can see even in the picture. Look at how large it seems in the picture.

Mahoney: Yeah, the balls were white as can be. Yeah. So these are all—this is a Jax player. So I was just cutting them out and putting them in.

Franty: And so, they were mostly like high school girls or young women out of high school?

Mahoney: Yeah.

Franty: And playing on these teams? And you’d go around on weekends?

Mahoney: Well, I don’t—I know, maybe that’s why I started, because college started getting in it a little bit. Okay, there—that’s me.

Vance: Well, did—when the war started, did that change anything at all as far as y’all’s playing?

Mahoney: When what started?

Vance: World War II.

Mahoney: Oh. That could’ve been, I guess. Maybe a lot of people—because when World War—I graduated in ’43, and it was really starting to get bad. And my first job—Larkin worked for a machine shop and—Gray Tool down on Harrisburg right next to Hughes—and so he got Sis Cole and I a job working from 11:00 to 7:00 at night. Well, that’d give us time to play ball and go to work, because we practiced two or three times a week. We always made trips on the weekends. Like we’d go to New Orleans, leave—well, that’d be—maybe—I guess we left Friday night for New Orleans, because we had to be over there to play a doubleheader Saturday and doubleheader Sunday, and get back just in time to go to work Monday morning. But it was fun.

Vance: Well, what were you doing? What was your job?

Mahoney: At Gray Tool, I was in the machine shop, making spools for the service. I don’t know what they—Larkin, he was a regular machinist. I was on a machine with—I can see it. It had—we’d thread pipe and cut it and—and where they shipped it off and where it went—back then—I mean, I cared about the war, but I didn’t—I guess I just wasn’t that interested.

Franty: You weren’t that much affected by it?

Mahoney: That’s right, yeah. Okay, here’s our—our team that went to the valley. This is my first year to really travel with them. And you might know I’d get a charley horse—dadgummit—and they put some of that—what did they put on those? It’s sort of like Icy Hot, only they rubbed it. And, man, I was on fire! Okay, now these are New Orleans—New Orleans Jax. And they—with the Savonas—and I done forget—which one of the sisters could stand out at centerfield and throw the ball over the backstop?

Franty: Wow.

Mahoney: Now, she’s another one, after so long, couldn’t even throw to second base. But they—nobody beat Jax. Jax at that time—Jax Beer—and Nina—is this Nina Corrigan here?

Franty: Yeah.

Mahoney: She didn’t play for—Nina Corrigan—she didn’t—

Franty: Tulsa—Higgins Midgets it says.

Mahoney: Did she play for Jax? Did it say that? Yeah, Nina Corrigan. There was two. There was one—I think—yeah. So there she was the pitcher.

Franty: Uh‑hunh (affirmative).

Mahoney: And you couldn’t hardly touch her, too. Okay, looking at this upside—

Franty: So then this is the Pharaoh Chicks from Peoria, Illinois, one of the best girls’ softball teams in the Midwest—

Mahoney: Yeah, they came down.

Franty: So this was of course prior to the All American Girls—

Mahoney: Oh, yeah, way far.

Franty: But they were organized then and had been playing around.

Mahoney: Yeah, they were really—I mean, really organized. Then what they needed to get—even a fast pitch would be good, but not that slow pitch.

Franty: Now, do you remember—what kind of crowds came out to see you—?

Mahoney: Well, I’ll tell you, when Tommy pitched, like I say, Sportsman’s Park was a little buff stadium—I think it held 1,500. I’m not sure. But I know they had the backstops and the grandstands and all. And I think it was that.

Vance: How deep were the fences?

Mahoney: We didn’t hit hardly no homeruns back then, but I don’t remember. But they were pretty—pretty good back. But I used to always get mad because Sportsman’s Park—the infield was the best. The outfield, they didn’t care. It’d rain and they’d leave water out there and then we’d have to go try to play in it, and we used to fuss about it all the time.

Vance: Now, where on Houston Avenue was that exactly? What was around it?

Mahoney: Okay, you know where—now, see, all this has been so long ago. Prince’s was on North Main, right off of Houston Avenue. Okay, Sportsman’s Park was about four blocks down towards town off of—well, it wasn’t right on Houston Avenue, but it was about a block back off of it.

Vance: Okay, so close to where I‑10 is today then? Or near White Oak? Would it be—?

Mahoney: White Oak, yeah. White Oak was further down. White Oak is just past—no, it’s not. White Oak’s back this way. Houston Avenue, then White Oak, because Theta used to live right on White Oak.

Vance: So it’d be closer to town than White Oak?

Mahoney: That’s what I’m trying to picture right now. I remember White Oak—yeah, yeah, it’s closer—closer to town than White Oak, because I remember daddy used to take my brother and I out there. When I was a little kid—summertime hit, I was barefooted. And I remember going barefoot riding the bus and going to see the girls—women play.

Franty: Really?

Mahoney: So I was out watching them play before I ever actually played for them.

Vance: Well, now, there was an amusement park called Luna Park—

Mahoney: Yeah, that was right where the swimming pool was and all, right off of Washington Avenue—Washington and Heights.

Vance: Oh, no, no. This was on Houston Avenue that I’m talking about, but back—

Mahoney: Yeah, Houston Avenue is here, Washington’s here—no, not Houston, that’s Heights—Heights is what I remember.

Vance: That’s the Heights Natatorium, the Heights Nat.

Mahoney: Yeah. Is that where it is?

Vance: But on Houston Avenue, where Sportsman’s Park was, was there any remnant of an old amusement park there? Because there was one back in the ‘20s that was right around there. It should have been closed up by the time you’re talking about, but I don’t know if anything was left.

Mahoney: You know, it could have been, and I just don’t remember it, but the first amusement park I remember is out on South Main—

Vance: Playland?

Mahoney: Playland Park. But that was—when was—where was the racetrack—car—autocars?

Playland Park in Houston, Texas.
Playland Park in Houston, Texas.

Vance: There was one at Playland Park. And there was one on OST called Arrowhead.

Mahoney: Oh, that’s right, yeah. Right. Well, I don’t—I don’t remember. It could’ve been. I’m trying to remember anything, but I don’t remember. But it could have been. I’m not saying. But you know the underpass at Houston Avenue and Washington, you go under the underpass and then maybe about six—six blocks down—and going out, Heights—I mean, Houston Avenue—it would be on the right‑hand side. The ball park was back in there.

Franty: What’s there now?

Mahoney: Ain’t no telling what’s back there.

Vance: Yeah, I’d have to figure out the exact block, but it’s just—it’s between I‑10 and—where I‑10 ends and Washington.

Mahoney: Yeah. Right.

Franty: Okay. Industrial kind of area.

Vance: On the east side. Well, there’s—it’s a mix.

Mahoney:

(talking to dog) Are you coming in? If you are, come on. We’re going to shut that door.

Franty: (talking to dog) Come on, Lulu.

Mahoney: Is it supposed to get cold?

Franty: Yeah, it’s just so damp out. Come here, Lulu.

Mahoney: You can come on in if you want to.

Franty: She’s like, what are you doing?

Mahoney: She’s not used to people. She’s used to people hollering, “Get!”

Franty: So the girls kept playing during World War II. Did you get—did more people come?

Mahoney: Okay, after Mr. York shut Sportsman’s down, the Buffs had already quit playing, but we went to Buff Stadium and played.

Franty: Oh, okay.

Mahoney: So they had to move the bases in and all. But what I remember most about that was playing football out in right field.

Vance: Really?

Mahoney: A bunch of us girls, we’d always play during—after softball. You know where Eastwood Field is on Harrisburg?

Vance: Uh‑hunh (affirmative).

Mahoney: That’s where we always—always would meet out there and have us a football game—tag, it wasn’t tackle—on Sundays.

Vance: All the girls from the team?

Mahoney: Yeah. Uh‑hunh (affirmative). All from the—what we played softball with. And then we’d get through there, and we’d go out over on Lawndale somewheres. They had the best fried chicken and the coldest milk you ever wanted. Oh, that was so good. But I don’t remember exactly where it was. But it was somewhere over on Lawndale, up over that way. So anyway, back to softball, where’d we leave off at? Shutting down Sportsman’s?

Franty: Yeah, and then you went and played at Buff Stadium. So this was when—?

Mahoney: Yeah, we went and played at Buff Stadium. And that year—or the next year—one of the years, the All Americans come through town. And you know, I wish I’d kept some of those posters, because they had them all over everywhere—that would’ve been so easy—drugstores, grocery stores, everywhere. It would’ve been so easy. But I remember going and watching them, and Tommy Izen was the centerfielder. I couldn’t tell you what two teams it was that played. You know, they’d break off into two teams and go play. But I remember Tommy because she was a real good centerfielder.

Franty: Tommy Risen or Eisen?

Mahoney: Izen. I‑Z‑E‑N. (sic) (Thelma “Tiby” Eisen) She was Jewish.

Franty: And where did—this was before the All American Girls League?

Mahoney: No, this was after it started.

Franty: Okay.

Mahoney: Yeah, I’m just jumping all over the place.

Vance: But they were touring—they were touring around?

Mahoney: Touring—they had been to spring training. Yeah, by the way—

Franty: Yeah, I got you.

Mahoney: Yeah, all right. Yeah. I got a postcard from Cooperstown that had that—that picture on it.

Franty: Uh‑hunh (affirmative).

Mahoney: Well, here you are. And I said, “Yeah.” So Felder put it on the—on there. And we haven’t yet figured out who fifteen was.

Franty: Well, you know, there’s another book out called the All American Girls Baseball League Record Book that one of the fellows on our committee lent me, and you’re not listed in the index, but I found you in some of the records and stuff in the ’40s or early ‘50s.

Mahoney: Well, I didn’t start until ’47.

Franty: Yeah. I found your name in there. That book is poorly indexed. And there’s another gal named Emily Mahone, and they have her as Mahoney: .

Mahoney: Mahon? Yeah.

Franty: Mahon?

Mahoney: Mahon.

Franty: The book is just badly indexed.

Mahoney: She and I played—

Franty: You have to be careful sometimes with these books and try to check it somewhere else, like I always tell my students, because it’s not always—

Mahoney: Yeah, Lib and I were pretty good buddies back then. She played for—she was a teacher out of—what?—Carolinas or somewhere south. But she stayed up at South Bend and taught. So I got to play while she was teaching until she got there.

Franty: Oh, okay.

Mahoney: And then when she got there, well, then—but the first year I was in—up there—it was opening night and Sportsman’s Park had—the ballpark was inside of the racetrack. They had a racetrack there. And the ball field was inside the racetrack. And then around the parking lot—and you know what? We’d been jumping them all my life. They had this big old wire or not—cable strung to keep people—so we was all jumping. Why I didn’t clear it—but I come right down on my tailbone and I was supposed to play centerfield. I couldn’t even bend over. So I had a bum start.

Franty: And what year was that, ’47?

Mahoney: Yeah, ’47.

Franty: In Peoria?

Mahoney: We opened up in South Bend.

Franty: In South Bend.

Mahoney: Uh‑hunh (affirmative).

Franty: And did you know the library at Notre Dame has a lot of the materials from the All American Girls.

Mahoney: Yeah, I played for Chet Grant. And somebody told me—or he told me—that he was one of the Four Horsemen, but I’m not sure. You know, in football?

Red Mahoney's AAPBL coach, Chet Grant, was also Knute Rockne's backup at Notre Dame.
Red Mahoney’s AAPBL coach, Chet Grant, was also Knute Rockne’s backup at Notre Dame.

Vance: It could be.

Franty: It might be. Yeah. That’s easy to check out.

Mahoney: Yeah. But he—afterwards he went back to Notre Dame and had a lot to do with it, so—and then Notre Dame was right there in South Bend.

Franty: Yeah. Yeah. Well, in their beautiful library, they have a whole collection of things related to the All American Girls—

Mahoney: Is that right?

Franty: So if you ever get up there—but you can also look for it online.

Mahoney: Uh‑hunh (affirmative).

Franty: Because when I was up there one day, I went over to the library and asked, and they gave me—they were very helpful and gave me all the Internet things to look at online—

Mahoney: What’s that Northwest University—what’s the other university?

Franty: Notre Dame University.

Mahoney: No, I mean the other university that has a lot of the All Americans.

Franty: I don’t know. Would it be Northwestern up in Chicago possibly? Or Purdue?

Mahoney: I thought it was right in South Bend or right out of South Bend, because we had a reunion and we went—they had to dig all this stuff up. They’d filed it all away. And maybe I have some pic—well, if I had my scrapbook, I would. But anyway, we’re jumping—

Franty: So how long did you play here in Houston?

Mahoney: Okay—

Franty: Because you started while you were in high school, right?

Mahoney: Yeah. And I graduated in ’43. So I played from ’43 to ’47 in softball. But then when—oh, during the war—okay, they still had the national softball tournament up in—wherever that is—I think it’s still the same place. The war was going on. In the middle of the war, Larkin—we won state—we were supposed to go. But Larkin says, “The guys are over there fighting, and the gas was there, so we’re just not going to go.” All right, the ASA guy who’s head of this gets mad at Larkin for not going. And then he wouldn’t—he wouldn’t—he more or less was punishing—I think—Larkin. And that’s the same way—when I came back from playing softball in ’48—well, they was still playing. So I could play in games, but I couldn’t play. He kept me out as a pro for seven years. And all these other women up there played pro. They was just getting the amateur status back just like that. I told them. I said, “Man, he’s waiting ‘til I get too old.”

Franty: He was just—

Mahoney: Seven years I didn’t get—and they went to two or three national tournaments, but I didn’t get to go. But I told them I don’t care if they keep me out forever. I still would do it again.

Vance: Well, who was—who were you playing for when you came back?

Mahoney: Did Richey still have us? Yeah, I think so. But then Richey got out of it. Anyway, it was dying out when—when I came back.

Vance: And where were you playing then? Sportsman’s was gone by then?

Mahoney: Let’s see. I left here in—the year Texas City blew up.

Vance: Forty‑seven.

Mahoney: April of ’45—’45?

Vance: Forty‑seven.

Mahoney: Forty‑seven, yeah. Right. Because when I flew out, I could still see it burning. And I just quit work about a week before that, but I went down there to see them. And something—when I was at the old house of course—something did seem eerie. And I could hear all the sirens going, ambulances I guess going down there. But then I went down—Weiner’s is—I was comptometer for Weiner’s dry goods there. And they had the main office on McKinney. So I went down to visit, and you’d see these big old flat beds with bodies on them.

Franty:

(gasp)

Mahoney:

They weren’t even covered. They just had bodies stacked. They was coming down from Texas City going to Jeff Davis or—

Franty: That must have been very—

Mahoney: Well, was it still Jeff Davis?

Vance: Uh‑hunh (affirmative).

Mahoney: When it was here on Memorial or—

Vance: Allen Parkway, yeah.

Mahoney: Allen Parkway, yeah. Was it something else before then?

Vance: No. No, it opened in ’37.

Mahoney: Yeah. Well, I can remember it, and it was a dump then. It was burning, and we could smell it at night here with the wind blowing the right way.

Franty: Really? I bet. These are some great pictures.

Mahoney: There’s the Savonas.

Franty: The sisters?

Mahoney: They were all Frenchmen from New Orleans and—all their girls had something about them. Now they may have ended up playing. Do you have the latest? Look up Savona and see if they were in there. They didn’t play when I played. They was maybe later on because they played in that big softball league they had around Chicago.

Franty: They’re not mentioned in this one. That’s the book I might—I have these two and then—like I said, this is the book that they built the movie on.

Mahoney: Yeah. If this lady was left‑handed, I’d say it was—

Franty: Freda’s mentioned in this one.

Mahoney: I’m trying to think of her name. Who was the one that said she was the only player out of the whole bunch that could’ve played pro—men’s pro ball? She just died not too long ago.

Franty: Well, here—I don’t know how valid this is—but it says, “The Saturday Evening Post”—remember the good old Saturday Evening Post?—“described the New Orleans brigade. Good substantial girls, like the sinewy Savona sisters and the strapping Miss Corrigan. Give them a cud of tobacco and these female softball players would look just like their big league brothers.”

Mahoney: That’s right. They were. And you don’t—and I stayed a long ways from them. Well, then—was that just in softball, though, huh?

Franty: Yeah, this is just their own league. I think this is the book that triggered the movie really, wasn’t it?

Vance: It could be.

Mahoney: Oh, is that the movie girls—?

Franty: No, but I think this is the book that kind of got the movie—

Mahoney: Oh.

Franty: Well, no, there was another book called A League of Their Own. I have that.

Mahoney: Yeah, that’s the one that what‑you‑call‑its son wrote. He wrote a documentary from Canada—documentary—I can’t say the word—about the league. And then they had it on—what’s the special TV—PBC?

Franty: PBS. PBS.

Mahoney: Yeah, okay, and then that’s when—now, what’s her name that made it—the movie?

Vance: Penny Marshall?

Mahoney: The director?

Vance: Penny Marshall?

Mahoney: Penny, yeah. That’s where Penny saw it and she said, “Well, that’d make a good movie.” And some—they was quizzing her not too long ago, asking her what was the most fun, the best movie—A League of Their Own.

Franty: It had to have been fun to make that one.

Mahoney: I’ll tell you—I bet she had them in stitches.

Vance: I bet.

Franty: Yeah, I was afraid that they would mess it up and make it too—

Mahoney: I did, too. Yeah, but they didn’t.

Franty: I was delighted with that.

Mahoney: Rosie played a great part. And the little—who was the pitcher?

Franty: Yeah, Rosie was good in that. As much as I dislike her, she was good.

Mahoney: The pitcher—

Franty: Yeah, who played—?

Mahoney: What was the pitcher’s name? You know, the sister to the catcher?

Vance: Right. Well, Geena Davis played the catcher, but I’m trying to think of the one that played the—

Mahoney: Geena Davis never did come to any reunion that—after the movie—but this one did.

Vance: I can’t think of her name.

Mahoney: So I don’t know if—

Vance: I can picture her.

Mahoney: I don’t know her name.

Vance: I can picture her face, but I can’t think of her name.

Mahoney: Yeah, I can see her right now. But a lot of people wanted to know—well, Geena Davis, did she really drop the ball on purpose or did she just let it roll so her sister could make it in? You know, right there at the last?

Franty: Yeah.

Mahoney: When she scored.

Franty: Now, Mary Lou Studnicka, she was here for that reunion, wasn’t she?

Mahoney: In ’06? I think so. There was two—because George—he’s the one that’s working with baseball. George—there was two of them—

Franty: Oh, the big tall guy?

Mahoney: Tall guy, yeah.

Franty: We haven’t seen hide nor hair of him. He like just dropped off the planet—what?—about two years ago maybe?

Mahoney: Oh, really? Then I better give him a call.

Franty: Yeah, I haven’t seen him at SABR. I haven’t—and surely, if he were around, he’d be involved in this project.

Mahoney: He was really into—

Franty: That was a fun weekend, wasn’t it?

Mahoney: Oh, it was.

Franty: And then there was—I remember—some of these I got I think when you all came. This might have been when we had the reunion, but then when you had FanFest—

Mahoney: Oh, yes.

Franty: And there was a table of you sitting down there in Minute Maid, remember that?

Mahoney: Yes. Right. Were you there, too?

Vance: I was there.

Franty: And I got one of those little bats, and some of you signed on my little bat.

Mahoney: Yeah, there you go.

Franty: And I got some cards. And then when I was in Cooperstown in ’99 for Nolan Ryan’s induction, they had a couple of the gals like sitting in a little tiny room upstairs over one of the book stores or something or shops, and you could go up and buy a photograph and then they would sign it for you.

Mahoney: Here in Houston?

Franty: No, that was in Cooperstown.

Mahoney: Oh. Oh. Up there, yeah.

Franty: Long time ago.

Mahoney: Yeah. Was you up there when we were in the Baseball Hall of Fame?

Franty: No. No. I wish I had been.

Mahoney: See, that’s the picture—

Vance: I see it over there.

Mahoney: Over there up against the wall over there. And then that other one up there is everybody that played in the league in Cooperstown.

Vance: Oh.

Mahoney: Yeah, because when I was working at—well, still out at Texaco—this one kid—I don’t think—well, he was a young man—didn’t believe it. So he went up there and come back, “Well, she’s surely there.”

Franty: Well, here it says about you going up to Chicago—in 1998 went to Midland Park—

Mahoney: That’s when we went to sign up for the beauty thing—I mean, the—learn how to walk and talk and eat and makeup.

Franty: Well, I guess here it was when the Texas Rangers honored ten Girls of Summer with an exhibit and pregame festivities. You were listed as being there for that.

Mahoney: Oh, yes.

Franty: I think that was ’98.

Mahoney: That was in Texas Stadium in Dallas. They were having—they’ve got a baseball museum. And the Little Leagues had just got through, and then they was doing us. So we went up there. Did you go up there?

Franty: No, I didn’t know about it then. Now, here’s Tiby Eisen’s name. And your name’s supposed to be on this page somewhere, too.

Mahoney: So how long have you been down here?

Franty: I’ve been in Houston since ’75.

Mahoney: Oh, well.

Franty: But I just finally got interested and got signed up with SABR a couple of years ago. But I had been—like I said, I’ve been to Cooperstown in ’99 when Nolan Ryan was inducted.

Mahoney: Uh‑hunh (affirmative).

Franty: I just love the game.

Mahoney: You know—you know the—all the guys up there at Cooperstown?

Franty: No. No. I don’t know anybody. I just went for the induction. I was one of—I don’t know—fifty or sixty thousand people crowded into Cooperstown that weekend.

Mahoney: Oh, boy—

Franty: Fortunately I had a friend from college whose mother had a beautiful home up on the hill overlooking the lake—

Mahoney: Oh, man.

Franty: So I didn’t have to worry about finding a room. Unfortunately—

Vance: Well, that’s convenient.

Franty: Yeah. Yeah.

Mahoney: You know what I noticed about it? There was no fences in that whole place. Did you notice that? There wasn’t a fence. All the houses, they were just lawn to lawn to lawn.

Franty: Yeah.

Mahoney: And that beautiful golf course. I’d like to go up in the summer and play.

Franty: Yeah, you would like to play that golf course. I’m not a golfer, but I’ve heard it’s wonderful.

Mahoney: Yeah, they had pictures of it.

Vance: Now, did you—when you were growing up here—did you play golf here when you were young?

Mahoney: I wouldn’t chase a little old white ball around a field. That’s the dumbest game I ever heard of.

Vance: So that came later then, huh?

Mahoney: After softball. After softball, I was nearly 35 I think or closer to 40 or something, because people used to ask me, “Why don’t you quit and let somebody else play?” And I’d say, “Well, when they can beat me out on my position, they can have it.” But anyway, after that, then Pete and some of the players went bowling, so I started bowling. This was about in ’52 I think it was. Yeah. Yeah. After I went to work for Eastman Kodak. We were in the M&M Building then. And they had gold lines right down. That was—that’s the best building. Since university—surely they didn’t mess it up, because they said—I mean, all three of us couldn’t reach around one of the columns that were holding that thing up. But anyway, I would make like that—reach that gold line—practicing my bowling. So I bowled for about thirty‑some‑odd years I think. And then from the football deal, it was my left knee, and when I slid, it got stuck one night. And I’d been sort of hurting. In the night, it hurt. So I come home, sit the ball down, and then I didn’t touch it again. Until they tore the house down. Then it got moved. And then from there, I’d be playing tennis and golf. Tennis and golf. And we’d go to bowl in a national tournament—wherever it was—I enjoyed that. And then I finally ended up with golf. Now, Zepeda there—she and Margaret went into—yeah, went into tennis. So they’ve been playing pretty good tennis. I get a newsletter from them saying what they were—but that was Memorial over here. But I was playing tennis when they had the—which is now part of the park across the street from St. Theresa’s—what’s that?—what’s that street down there off—? That’s not Arnot. Arnot comes—

Vance: Arnot’s by the school.

Mahoney: Yeah.

Vance: By Memorial Elementary.

Mahoney: Yeah, right. But there’s—one that the church is on. Anyway, there was a golf— 00:54:56 (???) (inaudible) right there that they had just built after—maybe back in early—late ‘30s I guess—because there was a—here, what you see now, did you know there used to be a big—all that from the corner there was a gully, all the way back. And in that flood of ’36 or whenever it was—

Vance: Thirty‑five?

Mahoney: Was that—? I remember laying in bed, and my dad, since he was in the fire department, he had to go rescue people. But the water got right up to the top of this great big old big building. And it got right up to the top there. And one of the guys that was around here and played ball and all, he was floating in the back there. Old Henry Green, I can still remember. But we’d get our bikes and we’d ride through there. And then how those apartments are standing, I don’t know, because—oh, what’s that movie?—two brothers that went up from Houston. Dang it. Well, see, I’m starting to lose it. They played in all kind of—one was sort of tall and the other one was short.

Vance: Oh, the Quaid brothers?

Mahoney: The Quaids. They lived right down there on that hill. Well, their dad did. I’ll put it that way. But they must have always been in entertainment, because either—Buddy Quaid was his dad—

Vance: Right.

Mahoney: And we played ball with him. He was on our ball team. Anyway, she’d walk up and down the street playing a guitar and just a‑singing.

Franty: The mother?

Mahoney: We thought she was a little whacky. But I guess that was just part of the family, you know?

Vance: You were talking about that gully. Did people go swim or play or anything in that—in the bayou?

Mahoney: Well, we played in it, but on this side—right where the apartments are—all down in there was—and then the Quaids lived up on—where it come to the top again. That’s what made me think of them. And then it was woods all the way until they cut Memorial through there. And then you can go on down, there was Logan’s Lane, and that goes right along the bayou, right down there. And they had some nice places down there—this one guy. And then on down here—what was it?—Millie—and she had a sister—anyway, her dad worked for Southern Pacific, which was down around where the Post Office is now. And he’d walk through there to work and from work, because we’d be riding the bus home from school and see him walking. And in the wintertime, when it was cold—it was colder back then than it is nowadays—he’d swim. He’d go swim. His place is sitting nearly right on the bayou down there. He’d go swimming. But he was—not German, but one of these—what was a real good lady golfer that retired before the—the one from Mexico? Where was she from?

Franty: Nancy Lopez?

Mahoney: She—but they’re stocky‑built people.

Franty: Like Norwegian or something?

Mahoney: Yeah, some—

Franty: You know, if we all walked like that, we’d all be healthier.

Mahoney: No kidding. That’s right. He lived to be mighty old.

Franty: There’s an article in today’s paper about some local school. They have to hire somebody to teach the kids how to play outside. They literally hired—he’s like a coach—to teach these kids how to play outside.

Mahoney: That’s pitiful.

Franty: Isn’t that unbelievable?

Mahoney: It is pitiful.

Vance: Well, were there any city parks in this area? I mean, Memorial, I guess, was there.

Mahoney: Memorial—but if you go down Allen Parkway, just before you get to town, they used to have this little dwarf. I think he’s maybe out at Hermann somewhere now. And that’s the only park that I really knew of—was right down—well, they have the old homes they’re drilling in now—

Vance: Oh, Sam Houston Park.

Mahoney: Is that what they call it?

Vance: And you’re talking about—he was called Brownie.

Mahoney: Yeah. Right. Yeah. I remember seeing him down there, because that’s where we’d go. But then when they first started putting Memorial in, it was so nice. Cleveland—but it wasn’t really a park. It was just a ball field, you know? But the grass was all nice, so mother and some friends, we’d go down there. But it used to have—my brother, after he got married, his wife would have Easter—we’d always have Easter out at Memorial Park. And the best weenie roast I ever been was a bunch of ball players in wintertime. I wonder what I did with those pictures. A lot of them carried logs down there, and it was cold. It was really a good, good weenie roast. And then I guess the only other—Mason Park.

Vance: Uh‑hunh (affirmative). Southeast side.

Mahoney: Yeah. And I’m still trying to figure out—because I was out that way the other day—when I was a kid and going to Scouts, they camped this one year—catch the Harrisburg—and I’d go out and I think it was 72nd Street. And it looked like there used to be a hospital there. But the other day I was out that way, and it looked like a clinic or something now. Turn right and go down there, and on the left‑hand side, that’s not—Mason Park—what’s the one out by Pasadena—or before Pasadena?

Franty: That’s unknown territory to me.

Vance: Yeah, I don’t go to Pasadena very much.

Mahoney: Well, this was over—we played softball there. It was part of a city park, but it wasn’t that far out.

Vance: Well, Mason Park has a—I mean, that’s a big park, Mason Park.

Mahoney: Yeah.

Vance: And that’s out that direction, but I couldn’t tell you exactly what streets.

Mahoney: Because I remember riding the bus and everything, and I used to tell everybody, “I wished I had the time that I’ve spent waiting on buses because I could live another lifetime.” Maybe that’s what I’m having now.

Franty: Well, I was going to back up a little bit, Red, and ask you, when you came back from playing with the All American Girls and you came back and Larkin didn’t want to let you play because you were supposedly a pro, and he had amateur status—

Mahoney: Well, it wasn’t Larkin.

Franty: Oh, it wasn’t Larkin?

Mahoney: It was the head of the ASA guy.

Franty: Oh, the head of the—okay. So did you still get to play in with those girls? You just couldn’t play—?

Mahoney: I played until we got to ASA tournaments.

Franty: Okay. Okay.

Mahoney: You know, like the state tournament and then the regional tournament and then the national tournament.

Franty: And those were girls pretty much from the area that would fill these teams?

Mahoney: Yes. Uh‑hunh (affirmative). Yes. All were. They—can you see? Is this—where’s that picture? It’s a picture of me and two more.

Franty: And were there more teams?

Mahoney: Well, where’d we put it? Oh, I’m looking right at it.

Franty: Were there more teams then when you came back? Was there more interest after the war?

Mahoney: No. No, it was starting—it was starting to die out.

Franty: Starting to go down.

Mahoney: Yeah. Right. But—well, you knew about Ruth and Paula Jo and I. Ruth and the other girl were from San Antonio—and by the way, they had the best state tournaments you’d ever want to play in. Man, they knew how to put one on. So—but those two are gone. But you knew that.

Vance: Now, when you were—back up to during World War II and when you were playing, that would have been at Sportsman’s Park?

Mahoney: That’s the Sportsman’s Park.

Vance: What kind of crowds were y’all getting? Was it all—?

Mahoney: I think it was around 1,500, because they had the grandstands and all like Buff Stadium. This was like a little bitty Buff Stadium.

Vance: And it was just a mix of people—a broad mix of people?

Mahoney: Yeah. I say “yeah.” When I first started playing, it cost you a quarter to get in. And then—remember, this was back around the depression era, just after or whatever. And why they went up to fifty cents—and then the crowd—it wasn’t as big a crowd. But when it was a quarter, they filled that place up. You could buy a lot of stuff for a quarter back then.

Franty: And then did they sell refreshments and a program and the whole thing?

Mahoney: Yeah. Yeah. All that.

Franty: All that good stuff.

Mahoney: The whole ten yards, yeah. It was really great. I was really sad when they closed that.

Franty: Did your sponsor—like Richey’s—did they buy your uniforms?

Mahoney: Yeah, they bought uniforms and bats and balls. And that’s what I was going to tell you about. Oshman’s, when they was right there—not McKinney, was it? What’s the baseball field on? The new one?

Vance: Texas and Crawford.

Mahoney: Okay, it was Texas and Fannin I guess—

Vance: That sounds about right.

Mahoney: Where Oshman’s was. And Larkin told me, “You go by there and get you a bat.” And I think—I think we furnished our gloves and shoes. But they furnished the balls and the bats. Yeah, so go by and pick out whatever bat you want. They’d just write it up.

Franty: So most of the girls were right here from Houston and the immediate area?

Mahoney: Yeah, they were all—well, some of them went to Reagan. Some of them had already started work—finished—well, Tommy didn’t go to work for Parker Brothers until after she got out of school. She was already out. And, yeah, they just worked and then—went to school, graduated, and got them a job around. And then still—some of them went to work for Shell, Humble—

Vance: Now, speaking of work, when you were working at Gray over there during the war, how many women were working—I mean, as far as in the machine—?

Mahoney: Oh, in the machine shop? At Gray Tool? Just Sis and I.

Vance: Oh, okay. So it wasn’t—because you hear stories about how there were so many women—

Franty: Rosie Riveter.

Mahoney: Right. But this was a small machine shop. Now, Hughes, that’s where Ruby—well, I call her Pete—worked at Hughes. And some more of them worked at Hughes. And they had a bunch—a whole bunch—because the bus—you know, back then, nearly everybody rode a bus. We’re at the bus stop and everybody—most of them—is going to Hughes. But I think Sis and I was the only women that worked in the machine shop. But they didn’t have maybe—about eleven or ten men. So it was a small—small machine shop. And I went by there not too long ago, and it’s not there. I don’t know what’s in there now. Right next to Hughes Tool. Yeah, and talking about Hughes Tool—these are all the—there’s my write up from the time I started at CYO.

Franty: Oh, yeah.

Mahoney: Daddy wouldn’t let me go play with these—the better bunch—until I played with CYO.

Franty: Is that where you started then?

Mahoney: So I had to put a year in. So I was pitching back then. And these are all my little write ups. I played for St. Joe. And then—Morris Frank wrote this. I think it’s—

Franty: Yeah. Little red head—I love it. Marie, as she was formerly known by her teachers—oh, that’s great. And you were how old then, fifteen, sixteen?

Mahoney: No, I was about—

Vance: Less than that, I guess.

Mahoney: Yeah, I was fourteen I guess, because I played—oh, that’s another thing. We couldn’t work and we couldn’t play ball until we was fifteen years old.

Franty: Uh‑hunh (affirmative). Oh, that’s cute.

Mahoney: I had fever blisters then, I think. I’ve still got fever blisters.

Franty: Well, the way to save all this—the best thing is if Mike could scan it with his scanner.

Mahoney: Yeah, well, that’s what—

Franty: And that way you won’t have to worry about the—as they get more brittle and start to deteriorate.

Mahoney: Yeah, and then y’all can have a copy of it and just read what all you want to read at home. And there—I had gone to work for Kodak when this came out. They put that in the Kodakery.

Franty: Oh, really?

Mahoney: Yeah.

Franty: This one?

Mahoney: Yeah.

Franty: And what did you do at Eastman Kodak?

Mahoney: Worked in the—business systems—right down here on Gray. Well, we started out in M&M and then—started out at Recordak—I don’t know if y’all ever heard of Recordak. Back then, that was microfilming, where all the banks and stuff put their stuff on microfilm rather than—to save space. So that’s what I was in—and then we built the place there on Gray and Louisiana, which was right there in the backyard.

Franty: You worked for Eastman Kodak for a long time.

Mahoney: Yeah, thirty‑two years with them. Right. I’ll nearly be retired—next year—as long as I worked for them.

Franty: Wow. How about that? Yeah.

Mahoney: Yeah, I just got a letter from them, saying, well, our money is okay—I mean, our retirement checks is okay.

Vance: Your pension? Yeah, because they sure have been in the news here lately.

Franty: Yeah. Look at that. A girls’ softball war stamp, right? Is that what it says?

Vance: Uh‑hunh (affirmative).

Franty: And war bond show, June 24th. Oh, that’s cool.

Mahoney: And this is some pretty good history about—

Franty: We need to find some dates on this.

Mahoney: But I’m sure there’s more history before this.

Franty: You think?

Mahoney: I think so. Well, I’m pretty sure they had that—well, that’s down at—I don’t know where we were. Galveston or—

Franty: Now, Red, what—when you first got the opportunity to go play up in South Bend—

Mahoney: Uh‑hunh (affirmative).

Franty: What did your mom and dad say? Were they okay with you taking off and—?

Mahoney: Well, they were sort of—I remember mother telling me—oh, she wrote me a letter when I was up there. Well, you never—once I got out of high school and started playing ball, I hardly ever was at home. And that’s what she said, “Although you never was at home, we still miss you.”

Franty: Because you were either working or playing ball.

Mahoney: Well, that’s right, yeah. So there’s Rosalie. That’s some of the CYO—but I don’t know what she’s doing in there.

Franty: Rosalie Savarino?

Mahoney:

Yeah. She went into insurance. I don’t know if she’s still—in fact, from Pasadena, she had a big insurance company—opened her own. Now, there’s a picture of Annie. She was a natural. Here’s me, knocking myself out, practicing and everything else, and she just—it just come natural. The only thing I can say is I bet she couldn’t beat me running. But I had to dig hard. Oh, I wish I had my big yard—really enjoy that. Now, here’s where I played tennis for San Jacinto out there, but none of that’s me. I wasn’t that—that good. But I’m trying to find our basketball. Okay, this is later on. This is Richey basketball team. And, yeah, that’s—I guess, Richey, too—front and back both.

Vance:

So this was a city league?

Mahoney:

Yeah. Well, they used to have basketball. But this is the one I’m proud of. That’s our high school team.

Franty:

01:12:38 Oh, really cool.

Mahoney:

And we got in the city league that year. And we beat Hughes. And Hughes had a bunch of them corn‑fed, biggest women you ever seen.

Franty: And you just snuck on by them, didn’t you?

Mahoney: And we beat them. And this poor lady right here, Lois, she was really tough. She said, “Those people are mean.” Because she’d never been—well, none of us had ever really been out—out and about—but—

Franty: I love this. This little lady with the dress and the shoes.

Mahoney: Yeah, back then—

Vance: Where did y’all play?

Mahoney: Well, that’s that San Jacinto team, and we played the gym—we played around at different gyms, but I remember playing at ones—

Franty: School gyms?

Mahoney: At St. Joe’s on this side and—is that an Episcopal or—on the other side of Houston Avenue?

Vance: Trinity Lutheran.

Mahoney: Yeah. We played—they had a gym back there, and we’d play there. Different years—

Franty: They have a big school now down there, don’t they?

Vance: Yeah, they do. So is this picture at the gym at San Jacinto?

Mahoney: Yeah, that was the gym at San Jacinto, yeah.

Franty: That’s fantastic.

Mahoney: Those are our basketball—

Franty: Red and I were—I was reminding Red on the—when we talked on the phone the other day—Mike, you of course wouldn’t remember this—but I graduated from high school in ’61, and at that point, we still had to play half‑court, six‑man—six‑girl—basketball because they thought we weren’t strong enough to run the length of the court. And so I always played center guard. So you’d get up to that line, man, you’d just be—have your toes and you’d be—it’s a wonder we didn’t ruin our ankles and feet trying to stop. And then how could you possibly be thinking about passing the ball effectively when you’re worried about crossing that damn line?

Mahoney: Yeah. Well, back then, we had—they was playing a roving guard then. There’s Larkin again. That’s before this—

Franty: Oh, yeah. With your basketball—

Mahoney: Yeah. Oh, this is the Larose Cleaners. That’s the other one we played. The one on—Larose here—he sponsored the basketball and the softball—after Bashaw—or Richey quit.

Vance: Okay.

Mahoney: Then it was—and that’s Mr. Larose right there. This guy right here. That’s Larkin, and what I’m doing right next to him, I don’t know, but anyway.

Vance: That—

Mahoney: Yeah, but this team here—well, Margie and I—where is she? Oh, she could shoot. I’d run and I did most of the passing. And we’d head out, and I’d say, “Okay, boy, let’s go.” Down the court we’d go, and I pass to her, and it’s going in.

Vance: That was your senior year?

Mahoney: Yeah. That was a good year of basketball. I enjoyed that more than anything.

Franty: Now, did—the black girls—did they have teams, too, that played or—?

Mahoney: They didn’t—they didn’t play with us.

Franty: Yeah.

Mahoney: They didn’t.

Franty: Do you know if they had their own—?

Mahoney: They had their own stuff—

Franty: They did?

Mahoney: I’m sure—I guess. Although they never did play state or anything.

Franty: They had a separate league. Prairieview—

Mahoney: Prairieview was real good.

Vance: Instead of UIL, it was called PBIL.

Franty: Oh, okay.

Vance: And it was run under a different—

Franty: For the black schools?

Vance: Totally different organization until 1968, and that’s when they brought them together. And Wheatley won the next three state boys’ championships in a row.

Franty: I bet they did, yeah.

Mahoney: Well, I’ll tell you, if they ever played in the All Americans, I guess it’d be like the men are today—it’d be more black in there than there would be white.

Vance: Buff Stadium had for fans—for spectators—they had a segregated area out there for black fans. Did they have that at y’all’s games?

Mahoney: No, we didn’t—but we never—I never did hardly see any blacks. But at Buff Stadium, they had that. All these little kids would go to—because he liked baseball. Again, we was on a bus, going to Buff Stadium. Yeah, that was—and Allen—who was—?

Vance: Russell?

Franty: Allen Russell?

Mahoney: Russell. He was good. Yeah, he and Larkin were good buddies. And that’s one reason why we got to practice there or play there was Russell.

Franty: Really? Well, we have to get her to come to a SABR meeting, because Jo Russell, his widow, comes to our meetings.

Mahoney: Oh, really?

Franty: Yes. She would love to see you.

Mahoney: Yeah. Right.

Franty: She’s had back surgery and some other—eye surgery—in the last year or so.

Vance: Yeah, she was wearing a big brace.

Franty: A huge brace on her back. But she gets out and goes.

Mahoney: Well, that’s good.

Franty: Yeah, and she would love to see you. She would love to hear you say that about Allen.

Mahoney: Oh, he was a great guy. Yeah.

Vance: Now, your dad, you said, was a fireman?

Mahoney: Yeah. He worked at number six—old number six was on Washington, and they’ve got apartments or something now. And then they—the other six was on down by Sabine Street. And then they built one after that down here on Washington and—three blocks down from Shepherd.

Vance: Right.

Mahoney: Towards Houston. And that’s where he retired from there. But he was really big in—

Franty: He liked sports?

Mahoney: He loved baseball. Yeah.

Franty: Another place that—I’ll take you there some day if you would like to go—down at the Finger’s Furniture Store on the Gulf Freeway, where the old Buff Stadium was—

Mahoney: Yeah.

Franty: The younger Fingers, Rodney, who has revitalized the furniture store business or is trying to against all the big chains—I wish him luck—they’ve redone that whole museum. They brought in one of the fellows that we see occasionally at SABR.

Mahoney: Oh, really?

Franty: And they’ve redone that little museum. And we had our SABR day down there—two years ago? Not last year, was it? Or was it last year? It was around this time. We had SABR day down there.

Vance: That was last year.

Franty: Yeah. And we had a big—there must have been seventy‑five, eighty people there.

Mahoney: Yeah, I would like to—I saw it once, a long time ago.

Franty: Well, they’ve added—

Vance:

It’s nicer. They’ve cleaned it up and—

Franty:

It’s really nice. They spiffed it up with nice cases to display things and all that.

Mahoney: Yeah. Boy, that was a beautiful place. My daddy and I used to go out—even after I come back from playing ball—we would go out. And Hal Epps. Y’all didn’t get to see Hal Epps play, but, man, he was—he played left field. He could catch balls that far—well, a lot of them do nowadays—but I thought he was the bestest thing I ever seen.

Franty: You know who will remember that is Bill McCurdy.

Vance: Yeah.

Franty: Bill McCurdy.

Mahoney: Yeah. I see where Epps died not too long ago, maybe a couple of years back. Yeah, but he was good. But I don’t—I think he went to the majors, but he used to always make—you know, they formed a club in St. Louis.

Vance: Uh‑hunh (affirmative).

Mahoney: We’re in the Women of Texas League, and then here comes St. Louis taking our best ball players when we was getting ready for the Shaughnessy playoff.

Franty: Wow. Yeah.

Mahoney: Yeah, we used to—back before TV—radio—I’d make me a score card and—

Franty: Did you? That’s where I first found out about baseball, because I lived outside of Buffalo in a small town. And we didn’t have major league baseball in Buffalo. And we’d sit by the radio, though, and listen to the Dodgers’ and the Yankees’ games from New York City.

Mahoney: Yeah.

Franty: And then of course whenever the World Series came along, it was always—I mean, walking to school, you’d be jawing with the other kids: No, the Dodgers are going to win this year. No, they can’t ever beat the Yankees. That kind of—just little kid stuff walking back and forth, because we walked to school. We walked home for lunch and walked back again in the afternoon.

Mahoney: So you was for the Boston Red Sox?

Franty: No, I was usually for the Dodgers back then because they were always the underdogs.

Mahoney: They always were. The Yankees—

Franty: Most everybody around me wanted their Yankees. Well, now of course I’ve become a Yankees fan. And I lived in Boston for two years. And so—I really—I follow several teams.

Mahoney: Yeah. Right.

Franty: And I love the Pirates. I don’t know why. I love the Cubs—because they’re the Cubs.

Mahoney: Well, you know Hunter—he works out at the same gym I’ve been working at.

Franty: Does he?

Mahoney: And so I got to meet him—one of the trainers were there, and he waves. And Hunter was out there.

Franty: He seems like a nice young boy—nice young man.

Vance: He is.

Mahoney: Yeah. Berkman at one time, when he come out of Rice, he was good. But I had to watch that son of a gun just eat all of the time, man. He had the glasses and the—he was eating in the dugout, eating on the field. I said, man, he’s really changed. He said, yeah, he got in shape, didn’t he?

Vance: He did. He lost twenty‑something pounds last year.

Franty: Twenty‑five, thirty pounds, yeah.

Mahoney: Yeah, and I was griping about Berkman.

Franty: Well, you know what they did to him one day when he was still playing for us, and we were playing up at Wrigley Field. They said that the fans started throwing Twinkies down at him. They called him Twinkie man and throwing Twinkies at him.

Mahoney: Yeah, give him something to eat. And I knew that they fed him before, because I’ve seen it, you know?

Franty: Yeah. Oh, yeah. I hated seeing him do—

Mahoney: Boy, it sure tore me up, I tell you. So that’s why I was griping to Hunter about. And I said, “Well, he’s going to St. Louis now. He’s really looking good.” He didn’t look that good with the Yanks, so I didn’t—

Vance: No.

Franty: No, not as good.

Mahoney: I didn’t think so, or they wouldn’t have got rid of him.

Vance: No. And they weren’t—I don’t think the fans there ever took to him either.

Mahoney: Good.

Franty: No. And I can’t see him taking to the New York media market too well either, so.

Mahoney: But that’s what I said to Hunter. I says, “Man, I hope you—they bring in some players that play like you.” He said, “Yeah, I’m from the old school.”

Franty: He is. He’s like Craig Biggio. Old school, play all out.

Franty: Well, and he works real hard.

Mahoney: Yeah, he does.

Franty: Well, but they said that was true of Lance Berkman, too, that he wasn’t a naturally gifted ball player but that he worked and worked and worked and worked all his life. From the time he was a little boy, his father worked with him, throwing him the ball, throwing him the ball, and stuff like that.