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Dorothy Dolby had Two Important Cincinnati Firsts

Dorothy Nichols Dolbey, was the first woman to serve as Cincinnati's mayor and the first woman to throw out the first pitch at a major league Opening Day game.

Dorothy Nichols Dolbey was one of four children of Herbert and Harriet Nichols and grew up in Cincinnati’s Mount Lookout neighborhood. She graduated from Withrow High School in 1926 and went on to earn a BA from the University of Cincinnati and a master’s in educational psychology from Columbia University’s Teachers’ College. Dolbey was active in civic and religious organizations including the Better Housing League, the Women's City Club, the Cincinnati College Club, and the YWCA. She served as president of both the Cincinnati Council of Church Women United and the National Church Women United and served on Cincinnati City Council from 1953 to 1961.

Upon her election to Cincinnati City Council in 1953, Dorothy Dolbey was nominated as Vice-Mayor by fellow Charterite Councilmember Ted Berry. In the spring of 1954 she took over as Acting Mayor due to Mayor Edward Waldvogel’s failing health. Dolbey continued to serve in this role for months after Waldvogel’s death while Council bickered about who would be the next mayor. In November of 1954 after months of political wrangling, Carl Rich was selected to succeed Waldvogel and Dolbey stepped down, having served eight months as Cincinnati’s first woman mayor.

Perhaps an equally important first for Dolbey is being the first woman to throw out the first pitch at a major league Opening Day game which she did on April 13, 1954 as part of her mayoral duties when the Reds faced off against the (then Milwaukee) Braves at Crosley Field. She remembered hearing both cheers and boos as she made her way to the plate amid a sea of photographers. The papers said it was a wild one, but in her memory, “it sailed between the cameras and right down the groove” just a little to the right of the plate.

During most of her time on Council Dolbey lived at 3804 Country Club Place in Hyde Park, where she and her husband James raised their two children.

In 1956 the Dolbeys purchased a large plot of land on the ridge above the Cincinnati Waterworks in the California neighborhood. They subdivided the land into eight lots and registered as the Twin Hills Ridge subdivision. In 1960 the family moved into a modern home at 5 Twin Hills Ridge Drive with amazing views of the Ohio River. Dorothy Dolbey frequently hosted Cincinnati College Club meetings and other events in her new home, wowing visitors with the stunning views of the river below. Dolbey remained in this home until retiring to South Carolina in 1980.

By the time Dorothy Dolbey died in 1991 Bobbie Stern, Ted Berry, and Jerry Springer had all been mayor of Cincinnati, the Reds had moved to Riverfront, and the Braves were in Atlanta, so though much had changed, she will always be the first woman to throw out the first pitch on baseball’s Opening Day.


Location

3804 Country Club Place, Cincinnati OH

Metadata

Anne Delano Steinert, “Dorothy Dolby had Two Important Cincinnati Firsts,” Cincinnati Sites and Stories, accessed June 15, 2024, https://stories.cincinnatipreservation.org/items/show/225.