Happy birthday to Ms. Toni Stone, the first female professional baseball player.
She was born on July 17, 1921 in St. Paul, Minnesota. Her parents stressed the importance of success in school to her, but all she wanted to do was play ball. As a child, she played any sport she could, never afraid to compete with the boys.
Her parents tried desperately to get her to forget about sports, and focus on school. When she was ten, they asked the local priest to meet with her. By the time they were done talking, the Priest was so impressed by her passion to play, he invited her to play on his team.
In an era still rampant with sexism and segregation, she made a name for herself playing for a team called “The Twin City Colored Giants.” She battled fans and teammates who believed she had no place in the game. They called her vicious names, and often threw things at her.
Here is the thing: she was good.
In 1953, she made her debut with the Indianapolis Clowns of the Negro League. She played alongside Willie Mays and Ernie Banks, and even got a hit off of Satchel Paige.
She wasn’t allowed in the locker room with her team. If she was lucky, she was allowed to dress in the umpires locker room. They asked her to wear a skirt for sex appeal, she refused.
The next year she was traded to the Kansas City Monarchs, to replace their former second basemen, Hank Aaron.
Last month, an off broadway musical about her story began telling her story to the masses, two decades after her death.
Thank you to Toni Stone not only for courageously blazing trails, but being an inspiration to all who were told they couldn’t.
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