Up Next


The day Toni Stone, the first woman to play in the Negro Leagues, was traded to the K.C. Monarchs

With Stone’s departure from the Indianapolis Clowns, the organization brought in two more women, Connie Morgan and Mamie ‘Peanut’ Johnson

Syd Pollock never saw an opportunity for publicity that he didn’t like. The owner of the Indianapolis Clowns brought on Toni Stone, the first woman to sign an official contract and play in the Negro Leagues, for that very reason in April 1953.

Oh, don’t get it twisted. Pollock signed Stone to the Clowns, the baseball equivalent of the Harlem Globetrotters, because she could turn a double play as well as any of the men. When the season started, Stone was penciled in to start at second base.

Even though Stone helped bring in a 10,000-person crowd for one of the Clowns’ games during her inaugural season, Pollock decided to sell her contract for an undisclosed amount to the Kansas City Monarchs on March 13, 1954. The day the sale of her contract was announced, it was reported that Indianapolis had signed two new women to the team.

Connie Morgan, a 19-year-old from Philadelphia, signed a $10,000 contract to fill Stone’s position at second base even though she had spent five seasons playing catcher for the all-female North Philadelphia Honey Drippers.

Catching was her main position, although she moved around the diamond throughout her career, and she came to the Clowns batting .388 over those five seasons. At 5-foot-4 and 140 pounds, Morgan would stay in shape during the winter playing basketball while attending William Penn Business School.

The second woman, Mamie “Peanut” Johnson, signed a $5,000 contract to move into the starting pitching rotation, as well as back up Morgan at second. Johnson spent a month with Indianapolis after the end of the team’s season on a barnstorming tour and averaged a strikeout per inning against the Negro League Stars.

Oscar Charleston, the Clowns’ new manager, was the scout who found Morgan. He told the New Journal and Guide (Norfolk, Virginia) that Morgan was one of the most sensational female players he had ever seen, and her throws across the diamond were equal to some men playing in the majors.

It may not have been 10,000 fans, but on May 19, 1954, the Afro-American reported that Morgan “electrified over 6,000 fans … when she went far to her right to make a sensational stop, flipped to shortstop Bill Holder and started a lightning double play against the Birmingham Barons.”

“The girls take a back seat to no one on the field,” the New York Amsterdam News wrote of Stone, Morgan and Johnson after a doubleheader against the Monarchs at Yankee Stadium.

Stone retired from baseball after the 1954 season. She was not given much playing time, and her teammates outright hated having her on the team. She was approached about playing a game in a skirt for sex appeal and refused to do it. She described the ordeal as hell. Morgan retired the following season to focus on her studies, and Johnson retired in 1955.

Both Morgan and Stone died in 1996, and Johnson died in December 2017.

Rhiannon Walker is an associate editor at The Undefeated. She is a drinker of Sassy Cow Creamery chocolate milk, an owner of an extensive Disney VHS collection, and she might have a heart attack if Frank Ocean doesn't drop his second album.