While Mo'ne Davis was making history on the field, becoming the first girl to throw a shutout in the Little League World Series, another woman who made history in baseball six decades earlier was watching on proudly from the stands.
According to the New York Daily News, Mamie (Peanut) Johnson, who was the first and only female pitcher in the history of the Negro Leagues, was sitting in the third row of Section 1 at Howard J. Lamade Stadium, cheering on Davis' every pitch and soaking in the historic moment just like sports fans all over the world did on Friday afternoon.
"It's the greatest gift in God’s green earth to be here,” Johnson said. “I never, ever thought I would witness this,”
Johnson, who's now 78 years old, was only a teenager herself when she debuted for the Indianapolis Clowns in 1953. Over three seasons, she compiled an amazing 33-8 record before deciding to pursue a career in nursing, which she would maintain for 50 years, and starting a family. As the Daily News story notes, she was even teammates with a young Hank Aaron during her Negro League stint, which shows how competitive the league was and how impressive she was on the hill.
Johnson was actually one of three females to play in the Negro Leagues, but she's the only one who stood toe-to-toe with men at the plate. She was the orginial. A trailblazer in every way. But now she's like the rest of us who have quickly become fans of Mo'ne Davis, and it shouldn't be surprising that when she watches Davis pitch, she sees a lot of herself on the field.
“That’s me when I was her age — the size, the way she throws, everything.” Mamie Johnson said.
It's safe to say Johnson was just as impressed with the way Davis handled herself off the field.
Mo’ne Davis had no idea Mamie Johnson was coming to the game. When she found out afterward, she said, “It’s amazing, I don’t know how else to describe it,” she said. About two hours after the game, outside a hospitality tent overlooking Lamade Stadium, the two pitchers, separated by 65 years but not much else, finally got together. They hugged and smiled and Mo’ne Davis thanked her so much for coming.
“You have no idea how much this means to me,” Mamie Johnson said.
Just when you thought the Mo'ne Davis story couldn't get any better, we learn about this.
It almost gives you goosebumps thinking about the place in history Johnson and Davis now share, but even better is the new-found respect and bond that will surely be forged now that their paths have crossed. It should prove to be inspiring for both of them as individuals, and to others who may someday follow in both of their footsteps.
The Daily News story has a lot more on Johnson's trip to Williamsport, including her meeting with Davis' mother. It also delves deeper into how she got into the Negro Leagues. It's very well done and it's a highly recommended read.
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