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June 14, 2010 7:44 AM   Subscribe

Mamie "Peanut" Johnson is one of three women to play in the Negro Leagues, and as of yet, the only woman to pitch at the major level in the United States.

After being declined to play in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (the league from the movie "A League of Their Own"), she played two seasons with the Indianapolis Clowns for two seasons, and faced such opposition as Satchel Paige and Jackie Robinson and was a teammate of Hank Aaron. She recently was remembered in her home town of Ridgeway, SC with a road named after her in honor of her accomplishments.
posted by 1f2frfbf (7 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
Unbelievable. I'd never heard of her before; so glad she's still around! Thanks for posting!
posted by Madamina at 8:02 AM on June 14, 2010


According to that article, she played in 1953-1955 - Robinson was already in the majors for several years. And that NY Times article says Aaron was "recently pawned" before they signed her, so they don't actually seem to have been teammates. Very interesting though, thanks!
posted by waitingtoderail at 8:28 AM on June 14, 2010


I'm listening to the oral history videos right now. They're a treasure. Thanks for this post!
posted by ursus_comiter at 8:53 AM on June 14, 2010


:)
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:33 AM on June 14, 2010


Outstanding; thanks for posting this!
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:29 PM on June 14, 2010


At the time she played, the Negro American League could hardly be described as "major level." At this point, the Clowns were basically a novelty team.

Lizzie Arlington is worth checking out. She is still the only woman to play "organized" baseball as a member of the minor league Reading Coal Heavers for one game in 1898.

There was also the "Queen Of Baseball," Lizzie Murphy. She was a career independent league ballplayer who played in two MLB-organized All Star exhibition games as well as a game for the Negro League Cleveland Colored Giants.

Of course, segregated professional womens baseball is almost as old as (officially) professional mens baseball.

The earliest known organized "amateur" womens baseball club was an African American Philadelphia team called the Dolly Vardens in 1867.

The "Bloomer Girls" era of the 1890s was an early high-point. While these teams were often organized by male players like Clarence Wortham (later a circus promoter) and were treated as something of a novelty, they represented the highest level of the sport for serious female players until softball overtook womens baseball as the primary bat & ball game for women and girls.

Even when they had a league of their own, excellent female baseball players found it difficult to avoid being patronized by the sports press.

Of course, women continue to play baseball as well as professional softball. There are even those who seek to revive and pay tribute to early womens baseball in the vintage "base ball" community.
posted by snottydick at 12:32 PM on June 14, 2010 [8 favorites]


Thank you for the excellent addendum, snottydick!
posted by 1f2frfbf at 6:26 AM on June 15, 2010


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