December 12, 2002
Peanut Johnson

I almost missed this story about Mamie "Peanut" Johnson, one of three women to play (and the only one to pitch) in the old Negro Leagues in the 1950s. She spends her time now talking about her experiences playing baseball and about the other two women, both now deceased, who played with her.

This story about how she learned to pitch amused me:

"I started playing baseball at a very early age. I'd say around the age of seven or eight years old...because that's all we had to do in South Carolina where I was born," Johnson recalls. "The more I played the better I got; the better I got the more I wanted to play."

She said she honed her skill by knocking birds off fences with homemade baseballs in her hometown of Ridgeway, South Carolina. "That's how I learned to throw strikes," she said.

The "baseball" was a rock wrapped in heavy twine and held together with gaffer tape. "You get it wrapped real tight, you get a needle and you sew it and then you put the tape on it and after you put the tape on it, it'll fly," Johnson said.

Hall of Famer Dizzy Dean used to tell people that he developed his fastball as a kid by throwing rocks at squirrels. If he were hunting the squirrels for food, though, he had to throw lefthanded, because he threw so hard righthanded that there'd be hardly anything left of the squirrel after he beaned it. (Cue voice of Inigo Montoya: "I am not lefthanded!") Whatever works, I guess.

Via Eric McErlain, also spotted by Chris Quinones and Jeff Cooper.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on December 12, 2002 to Baseball | TrackBack