When Mamie Johnson stepped onto the pitcher’s mound, a batter might think he was up for an easy hit. “This little mite of a woman?! What could she dish up that I can’t hit?”
Of course, that would only be the first time a batter faced her. Every time after that, he’d know better. Because Mamie Johnson, though small as a peanut, could hurl those fastballs, knuckleballs, curveballs with such an all-fired strong arm, a batter would as likely go down just standing and staring.
Raised in South Carolina in the 30s, Mamie grew up playing ball on makeshift fields with the neighborhood kids. When she moved to New Jersey at age 10, she wrangled an opportunity to play on a real team, the lone black girl on a team roster of white boys. And boy-howdy could she play!
Dodging racial and gender barriers, Mamie continued to play ball, becoming one of only 3 women to play in the professional Negro Leagues, and the only female pitcher. Getting pitching tips from Satchell Paige, dealing with rude hecklers, ever dreaming of advancing into major league baseball, Mamie’s moxie and talent resulted in a 33-8 record during her years in the Negro League.
Michelle Green’s biography of Johnson is a delightful, inspiring, story told brilliantly in Mamie’s voice. Sprinkled with historic photographs, and about 100 pages long, it’s a fast, fascinating, enjoyable read for ages 9 and up. Johnson’s story is an important piece of history, a great segment of baseball lore, and her indomitable personality is a joy to encounter. I thoroughly enjoyed this book!
Here’s an Amazon link:A Strong Right Arm: The Story of Mamie “Peanut” Johnson