There Once was a 17 Year Old Girl Who Struck Out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig Back to Back
Today I found out there once was a girl who struck out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig in succession.
What’s even more impressive about that was neither Ruth nor Gehrig managed to even get the bat on the ball when they swung. Ruth swung and missed twice before taking a called third strike. Gehrig swung and missed three times, striking out on just three pitches.
The woman was Virnett Beatrice “Jackie” Mitchell, one of the first female professional baseball players in history. Mitchell’s baseball life started out about the same time she was old enough to pick up a ball. Her father initially taught her to play baseball, but she got more instruction from a soon to be famous neighbor. Seeing her interest in the game and learning of her dream to someday play in the Major Leagues, her neighbor, minor leaguer (and future MLB Hall of Famer and the greatest strikeout pitcher of his era), Dazzy Vance, taught her a few tricks, including supposedly how to throw what would become her signature pitch, a devastating sinker.
After the game, Ruth stated, “I don’t know what’s going to happen if they begin to let women in baseball. Of course, they will never make good. Why? Because they are too delicate. It would kill them to play ball every day.”
Unfortunately for her, what she got for her efforts was to be promptly banned from Major and Minor league baseball by Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis, he stating that baseball was “too strenuous” for women to play. Despite this individual banning, Major League Baseball wouldn’t officially ban women until June of 1952, a ban that stood for 40 years, until it was repealed when the Chicago White Sox drafted Carey Schueler in the 43 round of the draft for the 1993 season.