Encyclopedia of the Great Plains

David J. Wishart, Editor

CLEMENT, AMANDA (1888-1971)

Amanda Clement was born on March 20, 1888, in Hudson, South Dakota. She became the first paid female umpire in men's baseball. Her career occurred quite by accident. Two lodge teams were scheduled to play a game before her brother's semipro game when the umpire did not show up. Her brother suggested that they ask Amanda. Clement's umpiring was so fair that her brother's team and other semipro teams enlisted her services. Subsequently, from about 1904 to 1911, she umpired about fifty semipro games each summer in the Dakotas, Nebraska, Minnesota, and Iowa, earning between $15 and $25 per game.

Being a professional umpire in the early twentieth century was not only a man's occupation but was also dangerous. Several minor-league umpires lost their lives, and many minor and major leaguers were assaulted by angry fans. Yet Clement never experienced any abuse. Fans and players respected her expertise. Gamblers liked her because her calls could not be bought. Baseball promoters delighted in her drawing power as the "Only Lady Umpire in the World." And sportswriters enjoyed bragging that "South Dakota has a woman umpire who is said to be about the best preserver of the peace in the whole northwest."

Amanda Clement in many ways epitomized the modern woman. An all-around athlete, she made her mark in history by being the first woman baseball umpire, but she also worked as a newspaper reporter, city assessor, justice of the peace, and social worker. She died on July 20, 1971, in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Gai Ingham Bridge Iona College

Berlage, Gai Ingham. Women in Baseball: The Forgotten History. Westport CT: Praeger, 1994.

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