Daily Cover: Toni Stone Was the Negro League’s First Woman Pioneer

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Toni Stone played second base for the semi-professional New Orleans Creoles. The only woman in an otherwise all-male outfit. The Creoles were a kind of minor-league side within the Negro American League, the last of the dwindling Negro leagues. Growing up revering the Indianapolis Clowns, Stone would eventually live out a dream, becoming the first woman to join the team.

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1953 was shaping up to be the first season since integration in which the Negro American League would be profitable—due in large part to Toni’s presence. Spectators were dazzled to see a woman playing with so much heart. Toni’s fielding showed her to be fast and graceful like a cat, and she could run 100 yards in 11 seconds. Stone faced resentment from male players though, both on her team and in opposing dugouts. Following the 1954 season, though, the Negro League owners ruled against allowing any female players, worrying that the novelty had worn off. Toni—along with Mamie Johnson and Connie Morgan, both with the Clowns, too—remain the only three women to ever to play in the Negro League, against male opponents.

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