Blount: Toni Stone of St. Paul was first woman to be a regular in men’s pro baseball

From Rachel Blount at the Minneapolis Star-Tribune on May 12, 2020:

Toni Stone never had a league of her own. She grew up in St. Paul’s Rondo neighborhood, a young black woman aching to play baseball. But the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League — the top level for her gender in the 1940s and ’50s — rejected her because of her race.

Stone had to follow a tougher, lonelier road to stay in the game. After playing for African-American men’s teams in the Twin Cities and elsewhere, she was signed by the Indianapolis Clowns of the Negro Leagues, becoming the first woman to play regularly in a major men’s professional league. Yet that remarkable achievement remained buried in history, even as other women players of the era got their due.

Playwright Lydia R. Diamond had never heard of Stone a few years ago, when a producer contacted her about adapting a biography of Stone for the stage. The more Diamond learned about her, the more unthinkable that seemed.

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Originally published: May 12, 2020. Last Updated: May 12, 2020.