R.I.P. to Bea Arbour Parrott, who played briefly with the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. She also made some headlines for her job as a milkmaid during World War II. She died on June 10 in Fall River, Mass., at the age of 98.
Beatrice Arbour was born in Gaspe, Quebec, on December 2, 1920. The family moved to Massachusetts when she was a child, and she was involved in the local sports teams for girls, per her obituary.
She was a standout shortstop on the girls’ softball team at St. Patrick’s parish and a top athlete at the Fall River YWCA, but Parrott made headlines in 1942 for a different reason. As World War II was taking many young men away from their jobs to be pressed into the military, 21-year-old Parrott got a job driving a milk truck. The Boston Globe wrote a story about her job of delivering 600 bottles of milk in the Maplewood and Flint sections of Fall River. Naturally, she had to put up with comments from husbands announcing they were staying home in the mornings “to receive the milkmaid.”
“I notice they say it with their wives standing right beside them,” she said. “It’s all right, I can take a lot of kidding.”
On the plus side, she did get to meet her favorite player, Ted Williams. He happened to talk with her while she was seated in her car. “He’s the nicest, most sociable guy in both leagues,” she said. “He talked quite a while with me, and you can imagine how thrilled I was when he drove in the winning run for the Sox a couple of days later.”
Parrott put her softball skills to good use, as she joined the Racine Belles in 1947. Unfortunately, I can’t find any information about her playing career. The AAGPBL website lists her as going 0-for-1 on the season. I don’t know if she played in any barnstorming games that weren’t on the official schedule.
In 1952, Bea Arbour married Donald Parrott and moved to Somerset, Mass. They had four children, and she drove a school bus for Somerset Public Schools. Her granddaughter Jenny Parrott, a musician based out of Austin, Texas, wrote Famed Girl Athlete Now a Milkman: The Biography of Beatrice Arbour Parrott. You can buy that book on her Bandcamp page (and listen to her music because it’s pretty good). Bea Arbour herself gave the following review to her granddaughter: “It’s better than I thought you could do.” Check out the book’s Facebook page for more info.
Parrott was interviewed in the Herald News of Fall River in 1992. She explained that she and her friend Lilllian (DeCambra) Kelley were recruited into the league by Lillian’s sister Alice. “In those days, women were supposed to learn how to sew, knit, and embroider, but these things weren’t much fun. I’d rather be chasing fly balls,” she said.
“We were just playing baseball. We didn’t realize that we were making history,” Parrott added.