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Mamie Wilhelmi

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Mary "Mamie" Hecke Wilhelmi, born about 1885 in Missouri,1 was a baseball park groundskeeper at Whittington Park and Fogel Field in Hot Springs, AR, around 1920-1921.

Biography

Mamie was born to William Louis Hecke1 and Sarah Malinda Anderson,2 likely near Brunswick in Chariton County, MO, about 1885. At about 12 years of age, Mamie's mother died. Seven years later, on March 22, 1904, Mamie married Otto H. Wilhelmi,3 and in 1906, she gave birth to her only child, Walter Morris Wilhelmi.4

About 1908, the Wilhelmi family moved to Hot Springs, AR,3 and around 1913, Otto became groundskeeper of Whittington Park and Fogel Field in Hot Springs.5 In the springtime, Mamie helped Otto prepare the fields amid the rush of Major League clubs utilizing the ballparks for preseason practice. In the process, Mamie learned how to care for the grounds, and in 1920, after Otto took a better paying job as groundskeeper of the Hot Springs Country Club golf course, Mamie was hired to become head groundskeeper of the two fields. She retained the position through at least 1921.6

Excerpts

"There aren’t any lazy bones in the Otto Wilhelmi family. Otto works and so does Mrs. Otto, and Mrs. Otto isn’t a stenographer, saleslady, or a manicurist. She’s the groundkeeper of two baseball parks. For seven years Otto tended the baseball diamond for the Boston Red Sox and Pirates and then he got a job as a groundkeeper at the Hot Springs Golf Club –an all-year job and a better paying one. This spring the baseball men couldn’t induce Otto to come back. They searched high and low for a capable man and could find none. They went back to Otto and asked him and he reckoned that “Mayme” [sic] could do the job as well as anyone else, and so Mayme is out there bossing the groundkeepers and Ed Barrow and George Gibson say she’s satisfactory, and that’s some commendation coming from baseball managers. Mrs. Wilhelmi learned how from her husband. She used to help him out in the rush season. She doesn’t do much of the work, of course, but she tells the boys how to do it and they say she is a good boss, though an exacting one. The infields at Whittington Field and Fordyce Park, the former the stamping ground of the Red Sox and the latter used by the Pirates, are in perfect shape. Mrs. Wilhelmi goes over the ground carefully every morning and picks all the loose pebbles from the infield. The veteran ball players know her and she knows them. She is quite a fan and eagerly watches the Red Sox and Pirates at work. “Who will win the pennants?” was asked her. “That’s easy,” she said. “They’re both working out here –the Red Sox and the Pirates."5

"Hot Springs, Ark., March 23. - Mamie Wilhelmi thinks more of powdering the foul lines of the Red Sox and Pirates' diamonds than of powdering her nose. She's the only woman groundkeeper in the world. Her job to keep the training camp diamonds of both big league clubs in shape. Mamie is a big leaguer in every sense of the word. The Red Sox are working out at McKee field and the Pirates just across the street at Fordyce [field]. After the players rip things up Mamie takes her rake roller and “squee dee” and goes to work. “Keeping a ball park in shape for big leaguers is just as important as washing dishes and sweeping the floors,” says Mamie. Her husband Otto Wilhelmi used to take care of the grounds when big league clubs came to Hot Springs. Last year he graduated. He is superintendent of the Hot Springs Golf and Country club links. So Mamie got his job. She made good last year. This year she is a veteran."6

"A native of St. Louis, Mr. [Otto] Wilhelmi, was born September 23, 1877, and came to Chariton County [Missouri] with his parents as a boy of 13. The family lived near Balton. He married Miss Mamie Hecke March 22, 1904, and in 1908 they moved to Hot Springs where for a number of years Mr. Wilhelmi was in charge of the Country Club golf course."3

2. Louis married Sarah Malinda Anderson on June 14th, 1880, per the Missouri Marriage Index at FamilySearch.org. Sarah Malinda Anderson died on May 29th, 1897, according to her gravemarker at FindaGrave.com.
3. Moberly Monitor-Index, 2/22/1946
5. Appleton Post-Crescent, 4/2/1920
6. Muskogee Times Democrat, 3/23/1921