|BELIEVE IT! Toni Stone played second base in the Negro Leagues, replacing a young prospect whose contract had been sold to the Milwaukee Braves, one Henry Aaron.|
Some people have wondered whether a woman could play professional baseball against men, and in recent years a few players have done so: Eri Yoshida and Ila Borders come to mind. But it's not really a new phenomenon.
Back in 1952, the Indianapolis Clowns were a professional baseball team in the Negro American League. As their name implies, they were partly sports and partly entertainment, a little like the basketball Harlem Globetrotters. However, they were serious enough about baseball to play well enough to to win Pennant, led by a star shortstop named Henry Aaron. The shortstop caught the attention of the Major Leagues, and it wasn't long before he was signed by the Milwaukee Braves.
So who replaced Henry Aaron on the Clowns? Believe it or not, Henry was replaced by Toni Stone, a young woman who had played on men's semi-pro teams as a teenager. It was mor0e than a gimmick, as she hit a respectable batting average (.243) including a hit against the legendary Satchel Paige. Her contract was eventually sold to the Kansas City Monarchs
Nor was Toni the only female player and maybe not the best. Mamie "Peanut" Johnson managed win with 33 games versus 8 defeats for the Clowns. She was joined by Connie Morgan, who like Toni played second base. She is shown below with former Negro League star Jackie Robinson.
|Second Lieutenant Jackie Robinson gives a few batting tips to Connie Morgan of the Indianapolis Clowns.|
I remember years ago, someone asked Hammerin' Hank if he thought a woman would ever play Major League Baseball, and he replied that he thought a woman might be able to play second base. I thought that was a curious comment...until now I can put two and two together and know that three women actually did play baseball in the Negro Leagues.