Her Story: Toni Stone
In 1953 Toni Stone signed with the National League’s Indianapolis Clowns to play 2nd base in Hank Arron’s place, making her the first woman ever to play professional baseball in the United States. During the fifty games that Stone played for the Clowns, her batting average was .243, and one of her hits was off the legendary Satchel Paige.
Stone began playing baseball at age 10, by the time she was 15 she was playing with the St. Paul Giants, a men’s semi-professional team. Her professional career began with the San Francisco Seal Lions in 1949 where she batted in two players her first time at the plate. She went on to play for the Black Pelicans of New Orleans and the New Orleans Creoles before signing with Indianapolis. In 1953 she retired from the Kansas City Monarchs because of a lack of playing time. She spent the rest of her life in Oakland, California working as a nurse. Stone passed away in 1996 at age 75.
While Stone was the first female player in the Negro Leagues and in professional baseball, she was not well received by the players. She was shunned and harassed, but Stone took it all in stride, she was proud that she was seen as a threat to the other players because it meant that she was a good.
Stone has been inducted into the Women’s Sports Hall of Fame as well as the International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame. She was included in two exhibits at the Baseball Hall of Fame, “Women in Baseball” and “Negro League Baseball”. Stone’s hometown of Saint Paul, Minnesota has declared March 6th as “Toni Stone Day” and they have named a baseball field after her. This rebel followed her passion and honed her talents to make a place in history for herself and blazed a trail for generations of girls to come.
“I loved my trousers. I love cars. Most of all I loved to ride horses with no saddles. I wasn’t classified. People weren’t ready for me.” -Toni Stone
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