Signed to a minor league baseball team in 1931, in what was one of the first professional baseball contracts given to a woman, Jackie Mitchell was only 17 when her team was set to play the New York Yankees in two exhibition games later that year. The newspapers laughed at the prospect of a teenage girl pitching against the Yankees. “The curves won’t be all on the ball,” one paper said of her famous sinking curveball. She “has a swell change of pace and swings a mean lipstick,” said another. But in the very first inning Mitchell struck out both Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, two of the greatest baseball players in the history of the sport.
Because of continued sexism in baseball, the commissioner soon voided Mitchell’s contract stating that baseball is “too strenuous” for women, and Jackie ended up quitting the sport.