Jackie Mitchell lived in an age where women did not have too many opportunities to get involved in sports, but Jackie Mitchell just did it: she became a professional baseball pitcher. In 1931, at the age of 17, Mitchell was signed to a contract by the Double-A Chattanooga Lookouts. In her very first week with the Lookouts, Mitchell had to go up against the mighty New York Yankees in an exhibition game. This of course meant she would be facing baseball legends Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth.
All Jackie Mitchell did was strike them both out. Back to back. The crowd roared for Jackie. Babe Ruth was quoted in a Chattanooga newspaper as having said:
“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.”
Probably he was afraid to get strike out again! Anyway, a few days after Mitchell struck out Ruth and Gehrig, baseball commissioner voided her contract and declared women unfit to play baseball as the game was “too strenuous.” Mitchell continued to play professionally, barnstorming with the House of David, a men’s team famous for their very long hair and long beards. She retired in 1937 at the age of 23 and she refused to come out of retirement when the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League was formed in 1943. Major League Baseball would formally ban the signing of women to contracts on June 21, 1952, until 1992 when Carey Schueler was drafted by the Chicago White Sox for the 1993 season.
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