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Sioux Falls woman recognized in Yankton as baseball's first woman umpire

YANKTON (AP) — A woman recognized as baseball's first female professional umpire has been inducted into the Yankton College Alumni Hall of Fame.

Amanda Clement was only 16 years old in 1904 when she was paid to umpire a semi-pro game in Hawarden, Iowa, after the hired umpire didn't show up for a game. She did well enough that she was offered work in future games. She umpired about 300 games over six years, earning from $15 to $25 per game to help pay her way through college.

Clement drew large crowds to games throughout the Dakotas, Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska — not only because of her gender but also because of her no-nonsense style of umpiring, according to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. She once ejected six players from one game.

Former Yankton College teacher Ron Bertsch told the Daily Press & Dakotan newspaper that Clement was a natural choice for induction. The honor was bestowed on her Saturday.

"Back in that age, females weren't part of athletics, but she was and she made a point that if young ladies put their minds to it, they have the same opportunities that men do," Bertsch said.

Later in life, Clement spent 25 years in social work in Sioux Falls. She died in 1971 at age 83.

Clement is already inducted into the South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame, and the National Baseball Hall of Fame Library maintains a file on her.

"She used to say since she was a lady, they treated her with more respect than the men," said Joan Hall, who worked with Clement later in her life. "She didn't ever hear, 'Kill the umpire!'"