Starr: The woman who struck out Babe Ruth

From Gabrielle Starr at The Hardball Times on November 25, 2019:

Once upon a time, as the well-known story goes, there was a deadly duo in baseball. They struck fear in the hearts of the most dominant pitchers. Their names were George Herman Ruth and Lou Gehrig. 

The year was 1931, and the Sultan of Swat and Iron Horse, the powerful twosome anchoring the Yankees lineup, were all but unstoppable. Ruth’s line that season was an astonishing .373/.495/.700; Gehrig, at .341/.466/.662, wasn’t far behind. Ruth was the team’s top player with 10.8 WAR; Gehrig, with 8.8, came second. The two even tied for most home runs in the major leagues that season. Though both were a few seasons removed from their career peak performances, they were still in their primes, still two of the most terrifying players for a major league pitcher to face.

Jackie Mitchell was not a major league pitcher. Nor was she, as all major league pitchers were, a man. The 17-year-old southpaw was a girl from Memphis, taught to love baseball by her father and trained to pitch by future Hall of Famer Dazzy Vance, who led the National League in strikeouts for seven consecutive seasons from 1922 to 1928. Jackie Mitchell was “just a girl.”

That girl struck out the first two batters she faced on April 2, 1931.

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Originally published: November 27, 2019. Last Updated: November 27, 2019.