Batter Up! Reed Brothers Company Softball Team

From a distance, it looks and sounds like a regular baseball game: the crack of the bat, the cheering from the bench, the sliding into home plate. But a closer look at the field shows something is very different. They’re playing on a rough grass field, no one is using a batting helmet, fielding glove, or catcher’s mask.

Reed Brothers Softball Team, 1920s

Reed Brothers Softball Team playing on a field set up inside the Rockville Fair racetrack oval, circa early 1920s. Photo by Lewis Reed

From the 1920s through the 1940s, Reed Brothers had their own company softball team that played on the fields at the Rockville Fairgrounds where Richard Montgomery High School now stands. In 1939, the Rockville Fire Department and Reed Brothers Dodge, two top-ranking teams, inaugurated the Montgomery Softball Association championship series at the newly renovated Welsh Field in Rockville. Situated in the heart of Rockville’s business district, the field was renovated and illuminated in 1939.

Participating teams at the time included Pepco, Takoma Phil-Gas Company, Marine Barracks, Rockmont Motor Company, St Mary’s Boys’ Club, Lawyers and Businessmen, among others.

1920s softball

The Evening Star, 9 May 1939

Reed Brothers Dodge Softball Team, 1920

Reed Brothers Dodge Softball Team playing on Welsh Field in Rockville, circa early 1920s. Photo by Lewis Reed

Note the player with the five finger glove in the photo above. Out of all of these photos, this is the only glove that can be seen on a player. The use of gloves wasn’t original to the first years of the game; needing a padded glove was viewed as pretty wimpy. (According to an article in the Smithsonian Magazine, one of the first players to wear a glove tried – and failed – to find one that would be invisible to fans.) By the 1880s gloves were accepted equipment, however, and soon inventors and manufacturers were coming up with new and improved gloves (more padding, deeper webbing…)

1920s Rockville Baseball

Reed Brothers Dodge Softball Team, circa early 1920s. This photo was taken at Welsh Field, which is the site of the County Office Building. The house in the background was in right field. Photo by Lewis Reed

Reed Brothers Dodge Softball Team, 1920

Leo (Pat) Murray, the company’s first Parts Department Manager, is keeping score on the sidelines. Pat worked at Reed Brothers for more than 21 years. Photo by Lewis Reed

From the about the 1920s through the 1940s, Reed Brothers Dodge also sponsored a bowling team that competed locally in the Rockville Duck Pin League. Participating teams at the time included Post Office, Chevrolet, Fire Department, Question Marks, Mechanics, Reed Brothers, Holy Rollers, and Potomac.

1932 Rockville Duckpin League

The Evening Star Feb 9, 1932

 

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About Reed Brothers

I am a co-owner of the former Reed Brothers Dodge in Rockville, Maryland. Lewis Reed, the founder of Reed Brothers Dodge was my grandfather. We were a family-owned and operated car dealership in Rockville for almost a century. I served in the United States Air Force for 30 years before retiring in the top enlisted grade of Chief Master Sergeant in July 2006. In 2016, I received the Arthur M. Wagman Award for Historic Preservation Communication from Peerless Rockville for documenting the history of Reed Brothers Dodge in both blog and book format. This distinguished honor recognizes outstanding achievement by writers, educators, and historians whose work has heightened public awareness of Rockville’s architectural and cultural heritage, growth and development.

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