Minsberg: Overlooked no more: Jackie Mitchell, who fanned two of baseball’s greats

From Tayla Minsberg at the New York Times on November 7, 2018, with mention of SABR member Leslie Heaphy:

Women have cleared many barriers in sports, but few exploits have been as stunning, and steeped in mystery, as the day Jackie Mitchell struck out two of baseball’s giants, Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.

It was April 2, 1931, and Mitchell, all of 17, was on the roster of the otherwise all-male Tennessee minor league team the Chattanooga Lookouts, which had signed her to a contract just a week before. The Yankees were in town for an exhibition game as they made their way from spring training in Florida back to New York, and 4,000 people had filled the Lookouts’ stands.

Mitchell took the mound in the first inning, in relief. “The Babe performed his role very ably,” William E. Brandt, a reporter for The New York Times, wrote. “He swung hard at two pitches then demanded that Umpire Owens inspect the ball, just as batters do when utterly baffled by a pitcher’s delivery.”

The third pitch was a strike that left Ruth looking. When the umpire called him out, the Bambino flung his bat away, “registering disgust with his shoulder and chin,” The Times reported. Gehrig took “three hefty swings” and struck out, too.

Mitchell received a standing ovation. “That completed the day’s work for Pitcher Mitchell,” Brandt wrote.

Read the full article here: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/07/obituaries/jackie-mitchell-overlooked.html

Originally published: November 9, 2018. Last Updated: November 9, 2018.