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.
Josh Gibson was big and he was strong, “built like sheet metal. If you ran into him it was like you ran into a wall.” He was considered the best baseball hitter of his time. Maybe even the best ever. Some said he was the black Babe Ruth. Others said Babe was the white Josh Gibson.
And the fact that he was black shouldn’t matter. But it does.
For Josh spent his entire career playing in the Negro League or baseball leagues abroad. He never got his chance to play Major League ball. For his many accolades, all the home runs he hit, the home run he once hit that traveled 580 feet in Yankee Stadium landing just two feet from the top of the bleacher wall, Josh passed away 3 months before Jackie Robinson became the first black player in modern major league history in April of 1947.
Source of photo: National Baseball Hall of Fame