Sport Changed The Game: Toni Stone was Henry Aaron's Negro League successor who made her own baseball history
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In 1952, the Boston Bravesfrom the Indianapolis Clowns, a transaction that set the stage for baseball history.
Aaron would make his MLB debut with the Braves two seasons later, 23 years before he retired with the most revered record in American sports as baseball's home run king. But his call-up to MLB opened the door for another remarkable moment in baseball.
A second baseman named Toni Stone took Aaron's place on the Clowns' roster. In the process, she became the first woman to play baseball on a big-league team.
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Stone's winding path to baseball history
Stone, born Marcenia Lyle Stone in West Virginia in 1921, had played baseball for most of her life — as a girl on boys teams and as a woman on various amateur, minor league andin the 1940s. Not welcome in the all-white All-American Girls Professional Baseball League made famous in " ," Stone instead sought to break into the professional ranks among men.
She grew up in Minnesota after her family moved from West Virginia before setting out to San Francisco as an adult during World War II. Thereand signed on with , an all-Black team that was briefly a member of the West Coast Negro Baseball League.
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In 1949, Stone joined the New Orleans' Creoles, a minor league franchise of, where she would eventually attract the attention of Clowns owner Syd Pollock.
Hank Aaron's replacement
By 1953, Negro Leagues were fading. Jackie Robinson opened the door in 1947 for Black players to play MLB baseball, leading to an exodus of the Negro Leagues' top players.in part as an effort to draw fans.
He signed Stone to the Clowns, which played in the Negro American League, one of. She took Aaron's spot on the roster and played second base.
Pollock asked Stone to wear a skirt on the field., instead opting to wear the same uniform as the rest of her teammates. And while she drew some of the attention Pollock sought, she also proved herself on the field.
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“Hank Aaron had just signed [with the Boston Braves], and Indianapolis was looking for a second baseman,” Minnesota baseball historian Frank White. “They thought bringing in a woman would hype up the fan base.
"Then they found out she could play. That’s a piece that gets lost, that she really was a good player.”
Stone's on-field performance
Stone developed a reputation as a tough infielder whofrom opponents who targeted her as they slide into second base. While complete statistics from Stone's time in the Negro Leagues aren't available, she's estimated with the Clowns in 1953 and the Kansas City Monarchs a year later.
Stone didn't always have the support of even her teammates, telling the San Francisco Chronicle in 1991 that some told her to “.” But she didn't let them deter her, just as she hadn't let the perils of Jim Crow stop her from traveling across the country to pursue her baseball dream.
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Patrice Bergeron received a four-minute double-minor for his actions. Crosby had scored a shorthanded goal before the faceoff, which made it 6-5. Boston added an empty-net goal to make it 7-5 and won by that score.Maybe the lesson learned here is any time there is the slightest bit of contact, make sure you sell it as much as possible.Subscribe to Yardbarker's Morning Bark, the most comprehensive newsletter in sports. Customize your email to get the latest news on your favorite sports, teams and schools. Emailed daily.
Stone retired from professional baseball in 1954, but went on tointo . Upon her 1996 death, a play in her honor was in production in St. Paul, Minnesota, where she played baseball as a child.
In 2019, analso paid tribute to the baseball pioneer.
Stone set the stage for Mamie Johnson and Connie Morgan, who joined her as the only three women to play in the Negro Leagues before they disbanded in the late 1950s. According to the Baseball Hall of Fame, no other woman.
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