SKOWHEGAN — The Portland Sea Dogs will celebrate women’s voting rights this month by giving away a bobblehead doll of former Sen. Margaret Chase Smith, the pioneering Maine politician who took on McCarthyism and was the first woman whose name was placed in nomination for the U.S. presidency at a major party’s national convention.

The Sea Dogs will honor the Skowhegan native and recognize passage of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which gave women the right to vote starting in 1920, with a bobblehead giveaway on Aug. 26, Women’s Equality Day.

The first 1,000 fans to enter Hadlock Field will receive the doll, which won’t be available commercially, said David Richards, director of the Margaret Chase Smith Library in Skowhegan.

The Margaret Chase Smith Foundation runs the library and was caught off guard when the team asked the board about commemorating Women’s Equality Day with a Smith bobblehead, but came around to the idea.

“It very much took us by surprise when the Sea Dogs approached us about doing it,” Richards said. “They wanted to do something to honor Women’s Equality Day. They thought Margaret would be someone good to symbolize that event.”

Smith, a Republican, was born in Skowhegan and served 32 years in Congress, first in the House of Representatives from 1940 to 1949 and later in the Senate from 1949 to 1973. Congress designated Aug. 26 as Women’s Equality Day in 1971.

Smith was the first woman to serve in both houses of Congress, and gained national prominence in 1950 as the first senator to oppose Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s anti-communist crusade with her “Declaration of Conscience” speech.

Margaret Chase Smith bobblehead

In 1964, she became a pioneer again when her name was placed in nomination for president at a major U.S. political party’s convention. Sen. Barry Goldwater of Arizona won the Republican nomination that year.

“We were honored that (the Sea Dogs) thought of her as a good person to symbolize (Women’s Equality Day),” Richards said. “The board of the Margaret Chase Smith Foundation, which runs the library, has always been very cautious about how Margaret’s image is used, but they were persuaded that it was meant to honor her.

“They’re only making up a supply to give out at the game. They’re not going to carry them at the gift shop. There’s only going to be 1,000 of them.”

The Sea Dogs, the Boston Red Sox’ Double-A affiliate, host the Binghamton Rumble Ponies on Aug. 26. Gates will open at 4:30 p.m. and the game starts at 6 p.m. The team uses the bobblehead giveaways, which typically honor former players in the Red Sox system, to attract more fans to its games.

Richards said the late senator was a fan of the Boston Red Sox.

“Along the way, Senator Smith was a diehard Red Sox fan,” according to promotional material about the bobblehead giveaway on, the official site for minor league baseball. “In 1950, she wrote in her nationally syndicated newspaper column, ‘Washington & You,’ that ‘every time the Red Sox lose a game, we Red Sox fans die just a little.’ A year later she added: ‘When I think of baseball, I think of the Red Sox.’”

Richards said the library has many newspaper clippings on display in which Smith talks about the Red Sox in the 1950s, a period when the Red Sox “were very much in the shadow of the New York Yankees.”

Smith was 97 when she died in 1995, nine years before the Red Sox won the World Series to end a title drought dating to 1918.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

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