Madeline Maddy English,
leader on and off the field
The Everet Independent
August 23, 2004
The city of Everett
lost a true legend and icon this past week with the death of Madeline
K. Maddy English from cancer on Saturday, August 22. She was
79 years old.
English was a longtime educator in Everetts Public Schools, but
came to be best known for her career as a professional baseball player
in the All American Girls Professional Baseball League made famous by
the hit movie, A League of Their Own.
In 1943, when gum magnate and Chicago Cubs owner William Wrigley was launching
the league as a replacement for mens baseball during World War II,
Wrigley sent his scouts throughout the country to search for talent, and
a friend of English recommended her to a scout he knew.
Although she hadnt graduated from high school yet, Englishs
parents agreed to let her go to Chicago for a tryout. My parents
were athletically minded, so they signed the papers so I could go,
English once recalled in an interview with the Independent.
She played third base for the Racine Bells of Wisconsin for eight seasons,
and was an all-star selection three times. The women of the league played
their games through a grueling schedule over the course of the summers.
We played a 126-game schedule, one game a week and a doubleheader
on Sunday, English said. Some of us girls used to joke that
we were either crazy or we loved the gameand we did love it.
In fact, English loved baseball since she was a little girl following
her brother, Edward English, to the field to play with his friends. He
used to worry Id get hurt, so hed send me home, English
said. When I got older, he would play with me. He taught me everything
I knew about baseball. He was my idol.
In November of 1988, English was honored along with the other players
of the league at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. I
was very proud for our league to be recognized in that way, English
said of the event. Back then, there were no athletics for girls,
and I like to think that we were a part of opening doors for the women
As proud as she was of her playing career, English was equally proud of
her second career as a teacher and guidance counselor at the Parlin School
In the winters during her playing career, English spent nights earning
her bachelors degree at Boston University (B.U.). She taught at
the Parlin Junior High School while earning her masters degree at
B.U., attending classes at night and on weekends. English finished the
final 17 years of her career at the Parlin as a guidance counselor. That
was the best part of teaching, she said. You could really
help the kids in that one-on-one environment.
Last year, the city honored Englishs many accomplishments by naming
one of the new schools in her honor. The Madeline English School became
the first public building in Everett named for a prominent woman, after
then 13-year-old student Tiffani Macarelli wrote an essay in Englishs
Mayor David Ragucci said this week that it was an exciting day for him
and the city to be able to honor English that way. It was a proud
moment for me to be the mayor the first time the city named a building
after a woman, he said. And it was even prouder that that
woman was Maddy English.
Superintendent of Schools Frederick F. Foresteire, who was a colleague
of English during her teaching days, recalled her as a role model for
the citys youth. She was a special lady, theres no question
about that, he said. When you think about how far women have
come in sports and work and all aspects of life, people like Maddy English
helped lead the way.
Englishs niece, Madeline Mitchell, said that having the school named
after her aunt was a proud and happy accomplishment for the entire family,
but especially for English. She was absolutely over the moon about
that school, Mitchell said. Even after the dedication she
used to say, I still pinch myself because I cant believe it.
Unfortunately the English family suffered another loss this week when
Eleanor Mitchell, Englishs sister and Mitchells mother, also