For immediate release
April 7, 2005
Mamie "Peanut" Johnson, the only woman ever to pitch in Negro Leagues baseball, will speak on campus April 18. The event will take place in the Blanchard Great Room at 7:30 p.m. The event is free, open to the public, and wheelchair accessible.
Johnson was one of three women to play in the Negro Leagues in the 1950s. Johnson and her teammates, Toni Stone and Connie Morgan, have the distinction of being the only women to play professional baseball on men's teams. They played for the Indianapolis Clowns and later Stone also played for the Kansas City Monarchs.
Johnson, a right-handed pitcher, held a 33-8 record in her seasons with the Clowns. She credits Satchell Paige with helping her perfect her curve ball. Johnson's nickname, "Peanut," was given her by Monarch's third baseman, Hank Bayliss. When Bayliss came to bat against Johnson, he called out to pitcher's mound, "You're nothing but a peanut!" Johnson struck him out and the name stuck.
Originally, Mamie Johnson hoped to play for the All American Girls Professional Baseball League, the teams made famous in the film A League of Their Own. But she was turned away from a tryout when AAGPBL officials would not allow African American girls to play in the all-white league. The denied tryout was one of Johnson's first vivid encounters with racism. "It devastated me," she said, "because I didn't know what prejudice was."
Mamie Johnson is the only surviving member of the trio of women who played baseball in the Negro Leagues. Stone and Morgan both died in 1996. In 2001 before a crowd assembled in Milwaukee to rededicate the Negro Leagues Wall of Fame, Johnson offered a reminder about women's contribution to baseball. "I want it known all over the world," she said. "We were here, too."
Mamie Johnson's visit to Mount Holyoke is sponsored by the women's studies program in partnership with physical education and athletics, African American and African studies program, the history department, American studies, Student Athlete Advisory Board, the Association of Pan African Unity, and the Office of the President.