Sports

Mamie Johnson only woman ever to pitch in majors

As the Boys of Summer gather for spring training our thoughts turn to the legendary incomparable chapter in American history known as the Negro League. Meet Indianapolis Clowns' starting pitcher Mamie 'Peanut' Johnson, one of the many memorable athletes whose story will insure they will never be forgotten. As the Boys of Summer gather for spring training our thoughts turn to the legendary incomparable chapter in American history known as the Negro League. Meet Indianapolis Clowns' starting pitcher Mamie 'Peanut' Johnson, one of the many memorable athletes whose story will insure they will never be forgotten.

Johnson was the only woman ever to pitch in the Majors (which by right was what the Negro League was ).

Born in Ridgeway, South Carolina in 1935, Johnson was anything but typical. As she remembers she began playing baseball every single day by the time she was just seven, and by the time she went off to college at New York University in 1943, she remained every bit the devoted baseball player even though a victim of prejudice. S he was rejected by the White Female Baseball League. Yes that's what they called themselves. Mamie was better than most if not all in the league and her rejection proved a blessing in more ways than one. She got to play for a far better League, and to become a Legend in the annals of baseball.

In 1953, a former Negro League player Bish Tyson happened upon her while she was practicing on a ball field in Washington, DC. Impressed Tyson introduced Johnson to the manager of the Clowns Bunny Downs, who after watching her try out signed her at once for his pitching staff without any qualms about her gender. Downs was quickly proven right. Although only 100 lbs and thus her moniker 'Peanut' Johnson amassed a formidable record of 33-8 as a right hand starting pitcher and she crowned her brief two year career 1953 – 1955 in leading the Clowns to the Negro League version of the World Series in 1954.

After leaving baseball Johnson had a successful career as a professional nurse. Afterwards she took over as manager of the Negro League's Memorabilia Shop in Prince George's County, Md. More than that Johnson coaches baseball teams and travels the country as a motivational speaker inspiring young people to pursue their education and their dreams.

There is much more to the Mamie Johnson story than we can squeeze into the Box. For the full story read Michelle Y. Green's well researched biography of her " A Strong Right Arm : The Story of Mamie ' Peanut ' Johnson."

March 3, 2003
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