Women’s Suffrage and Baseball in 1911 Toledo

Posted on May 10, 2020

by Gayle H

It may not seem like baseball and women’s suffrage have much in common, but Toledo Central High School class novelist Edwin J. Tippett Jr. (1892-1971) brought them together in his clever proposal that was published in the 1911 school yearbook, the Almanac.

Tippett’s story brings us back to the nostalgic setting of a noisy, packed baseball game played at Toledo’s own Swayne Field. In it, he describes the players’ heroic efforts, hilarious reactions of spectators determined to converse using only Shakespearean phrases, the fair and unbiased calls of the famed educator Ada M. Ritchie (1856-1927), and the magnanimous and final decision of Toledo’s esteemed mayor, Brand Whitlock (1869-1934).

After the following brief introduction, please enjoy this whimsical story remembering that it portrays the sensitivities of people living in an era quite different from our own.

The Author: Edwin J. Tippett, Jr.

Edwin was born in 1892 in Toledo, Ohio. His photo was taken from the pages of the Almanac, which also includes a brief biographical sketch, claiming: “He hath more business in a day than some men in a lifetime.”

His life was indeed both a literary one and one of much service. Before his retirement in 1964, he had worked as the longtime editor and publisher of the Toledo American Legion Press and as president of the Toledo Printing Company (founded by his father).

He served in World War I, and as a veteran was the past commander of the Lucas County American Legion, had membership at the Baker-Stengel Post, American Legion honorary society, and was past president of the American Legion Press Association. His 1971 obituary as published in The Blade listed additional memberships as a 32nd Degree Mason in the Scottish Rite, Small Business Association, Chamber of Commers, and Sigma Delta Chi, the national professional journalism society.

The Umpire: Ada M. Ritchie

It is fitting that Edwin chose Miss Ritchie as the game’s umpire. Born in 1856 in Grafton, Ohio, she was both the daughter and sister of judges.

At the time of her death in 1927 she had spent more than 50 years as an educator in Toledo. By then she was known as the “Grand Old Lady of Scott High School,” but the beginning of her career was made evident in 1873 when she filled in for a sick teacher three months prior to her graduation from Toledo Central High School. She taught most if not all of Toledo’s prominent late 19th and early 20th century business people.

Full page photos of her, like the one here, grace most of the school’s Almanac yearbooks, where she was known for her toughness, fairness and heart of gold. When Scott High School opened in 1913 she became a member of their faculty and is credited with developing their extensive library.

The Mayor: Brand Whitlock

Although Edwin didn’t name Brand Whitlock (1869-1934) specifically in his story, his inclusion fits perfectly with who our 33rd or 34th (depending on how you count them) mayor was. Although this 1909 postcard gives a hint of whether Mayor Whitlock may or may not have endorsed Women’s Suffrage, you still need to read the Tippett’s story to fully comprehend the outcome of the game!

An extensive collection of his writings are available in Local History and Genealogy’s Toledoana Collection.

The Players:

The Story:

Edwin began his tale with an introduction explaining society’s miscarriage of justice by not extending suffrage to women. According to him, the matter had already been settled in favor of granting women the vote after a recent school debate. However, he quoted, “recreant legislators failed to act upon the proven resolution.”

A final determination, aided in part by a committee member who owned the baseball team, was made to finally settle the matter on the baseball field. Swayne Field, at that time the home of the Toledo Mud Hens, was the chosen site.

Like many great baseball stories, this one begins in the ninth inning with the perceived underdogs (the women) up at bat. At that point, surprisingly, no runs had been scored by either team. In order to reserve the details and final outcome for those who intend to enjoy it first hand, suffice it to say that Edwin proceeded to describe a thrilling game, play by play. He revealed details of the spectators, players, and their relationships with each other, giving an intimate glimpse into the lives of the Toledo Central High School’s Class of 1911.

All of the images shown in this blog with the exception of the team rosters are available on Ohio Memory, our TLCPL collection of images that is still continually growing!

Votes for Women by Edwin J. Tippett is included in Toledo Central High School’s 1911 Almanac beginning on image 80 of the online yearbook, but it is numbered page 74 in the hard copy we hold in the Local History and Genealogy Department at TLCPL.

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