Long before A League of Their Own, we had the girl who was the “Leader in Cabin John Triumph,” the girl who “Shows Boys How.” As the excitement of the Nationals’ 2019 World Series Championship slowly wanes, some baseball stories go unnoticed. This includes one baseball star right in our backyard. Not Walter Johnson, but Evelyn Lynch, who for several years in the early 1930s was a star player for the local Cabin John firemen’s baseball team and many others.
Evelyn Lynch was born in 1910 and started playing baseball as a child, a glove in her hand from the time she could walk. Growing up on Conduit Road (now MacArthur Blvd.) on the District line, she played for a number of boys’ teams while in elementary school. At the age of 9, she was on the Linworth Insects, a DC boys’ team that paid her 50 cents each Saturday for playing catcher. “Reckon I’ve been a pro a long while,” she once joked to a sports writer.
In 1922, an 11-year-old Evelyn beamed from a photo in the Washington Evening Star newspaper, the first of many pictures and articles highlighting her baseball ambitions and accomplishments. With hopes of one day catching for Walter Johnson, Washington Senators owner Clark Griffith promised her she just might do so. Though that hope never materialized, Lynch did play a number of games at DC’s Griffith Stadium over the course of her career. A 1937 newspaper story boasted a photo montage of Lynch in action, singing the praises of the capital’s only female professional baseball player.
When Evelyn was 15, she joined her father at a New York Bloomer Girls game in Bowie. From the 1890s to 1930s, the professional Bloomer Girls baseball teams, named for the loose trousers worn by the female players, “barnstormed” across the country playing local community, semi-pro, and minor league men’s teams along the way.
Hundreds of Bloomer Girls teams throughout the country offered young female players a chance at adventure, travel, and a paycheck. At this particular game, Evelyn approached the New York manager and declared, “I’m as good a ball player as any of them.”
One successful tryout later and she joined the nationally known New York team for several years. Touring with the team across the U.S., Mexico, and Canada, she not only pitched but played second base and outfield. She returned to the DC area and continued to play for several local sandlot teams, playing “a better game than many men” according to newspapers.
In 1934, Cabin John lucked out and the Cabin John Park Volunteer Fire Department baseball team signed Miss Lynch to play first base. The Cabin John Park Volunteer Fire Department was organized only a few years earlier, in 1930 during a meeting of residents above Mr. Charles Benson’s shop (now Alpine Veterinary Hospital). With the addition of Lynch, the Cabin John team was one of Montgomery County League’s top teams. Former Major League player Jack Bentley, who started with the Washington Senators in 1913, noted that “baseball was THE SPORT in Montgomery County at the time.”
Lynch may have landed upon Cabin John due to her older brother Douglas, “more familiarly known as the brother of Evelyn Lynch”. He was both a resident of Cabin John and a player on the team. Her debut game with the Cabin John firemen saw Evelyn hit three singles and, together with her faultless outfielding, they won 11-7 over Wheaton. A 1934 matchup against Bethesda A.C. saw Lynch save the game with a line-drive catch in the tenth inning, beating Bethesda by one run.
In 1936, the Cabin John nine won the Montgomery County League title. That summer in 40 games, Lynch batted an awesome .375.
By 1937, Lynch was playing first base for Baltimore’s semi-pro Young Men’s Sports Club in Sunday doubleheaders. The Baltimore Sun noted: “Women find baseball hard to understand and play. There is a certain trick of throwing the ball that usually only men can master. But Miss Lynch hurls a speedy ball and catches well too. One spectator, in the gallery of several hundred, declared she had better baseball form than some of the men.”Evelyn threw right-handed but batted left, and was a natural athlete. “I would rather play ball than eat, but I must work, so I am a telephone operator at a Washington hotel,” Evelyn once told a journalist. A May 1937 advertisement in the Evening Star sports pages read, “Girl Wants Ball Job. Evelyn Lynch, girl baseball star, is available today to any male team needing a player.”
By Rachel Donnan
[See photos by accessing the article in the Village News Archive: 2019 November Newsletter]