Maude Nelson
Photo source unknown.

(Clementina Brida)
Third Base

Western Bloomer Girls
All-Star Ranger Girls

For over forty years, Maud Nelson was active in every facet of women's baseball. She was a pitcher, played third base, scouted, and owned or managed some of the finest women's teams to play in the early days. In 1908, one reporter wrote that she was "the greatest all-around female ball player in existence."

Maud was the starting pitcher for the barnstorming Boston Bloomer Girls in 1897. The team once won an amazing 28 games in 26 days, and a Eugene, Oregon, paper said, "The girls from Beantown put up a clean game and play like professionals, asking for no favors, but playing a hard, snappy game on its merits."

Maud was the star attraction for the team, and had to pitch every day, so as not to disappoint the fans. Often she would strike out the side for two or three innings, turn the ball over to the bullpen, then finish the game at third base, fielding grounders and rocketing bullets over to first base for another six innings.

When she was thirty, she became the owner-manager (with her husband, John Olson) of the Western Bloomer Girls. She scouted both male and female players, dealt with booking agents, handled contracts, and managed the day-to-day operations of the team. Her husband died in 1917; six years later she remarried, and with her new spouse, Costante Dellacqua, formed the All-Star Ranger Girls. The Ranger Girls would play until 1934.

Wherever she traveled, Maud recruited the cream of the local crop to play on her teams. Many of the best players in the early years of this century played either with or for her. For three generations of women, Maud Nelson offered the opportunity of a lifetime--the chance to play professional baseball.


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