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Physical Education, Sport, & Human Performance

Physical Education, Sport, & Human Performance

Distinguished Alumni 2006

Elizabeth "Lib" Mahon

Born November 18, 1919, in Greenville, SC, Elizabeth ‘Lib’ Mahon very early on demonstrated the athletic prowess that was to make her an all-star with the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. She was playing for a women’s basketball team before she even reached her teens and during her junior and senior years in high school she joined a women’s fast-pitch softball team.

In 1938, a year after graduating from high school, Lib was able to attend Winthrop when an aunt offered to pay the tuition. She excelled in both academics and athletics during her 4 years at the college. Majoring in physical education with minors in science and English, Lib played basketball, softball, and field hockey. She also assumed a leadership role, serving as a member of the student senate and manager of the freshman basketball team and captain of the sophomore hockey team. During her junior year, she was a captain of the hockey and basketball teams and treasurer of the Athletic Association. Her senior year saw her selected as one of three “Best All Around” students by the Winthrop Board of Trustees for her athletic accomplishments and campus leadership.

Lib taught for a year after graduation before going to work at the Greenville post office. She continued to play fast-pitch softball during this period. Her outstanding play brought her to the attention of the manager of the minor league Greenville Spinners, who encouraged her to try out for the fledgling All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (subject of the 1992 feature film, A League of Their Own). In early 1944, she traveled to LaSalle-Peru, Illinois, for 10 days of spring training. Lib made the cut and played that first year for the Minneapolis Millerettes and the Kenosha Comets. The following year she was traded to the South Bend Blue Sox, where she would remain until her retirement at the end of the 1952 season.

Lib was one of the premier players in the League. Playing mainly outfield with some time at second base, she was twice selected to the League’s all-star team (1946 and 1949). In 1946 she lead the League in RBI’s with 72 and in 1949 repeated as League RBI leader with 60. Her 400 career RBI’s tied her for fourth place in League history. She was also a key member of the 1951 League champion South Bend Blue Sox. Her career .248 batting average, 721 hits, 364 stolen bases, and 432 runs scored put her in the top tier of all League players.

Lib began teaching physical education in the South Bend public schools while she played for the Blue Sox. She continued to teach in South Bend upon leaving the League in 1952. In 1960 she became a guidance counselor after completing a master’s degree from the University of Indiana, a position she held until her retirement in 1981. This stellar teacher and athlete passed away on September 6, 2001. In 2005 she was inducted into the South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame.

In a 1997 interview, Lib acknowledged the importance of her years at Winthrop. “Thank God for a college education and for the opportunity to play ball, too. That changed my life completely.”