Toni Stone

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Stone playing for the Creoles

Toni Stone (July 17, 1921 – November 2, 1996),born as Marcenia Lyle Stone, was the first of three women to play professional baseball as a part of the Negro League.[1][2] Toni Stone attended Roosevelt High School in Minneapolis, Minnesota. A baseball player from her early childhood, she went on to play for the San Francisco Sea Lions in the West Coast Negro Baseball League in 1945. In 1953, she was traded to the Indianapolis Clowns of the Negro League and in 1954 she signed to the Kansas City Monarchs.


Raised in St. Paul's Rondo Neighborhood, Toni Stone's playing career began when she was ten years old, and joined the St. Peter Claver Catholic Church boys' baseball team in the Catholic Midget League, which is similar to today's Little League. [2] She moved on to play for the Girls' Highlex Softball Club in Saint Paul, Minnesota. By the age of fifteen, Toni Stone played for the St. Paul Giants, a men's semi-professional team. Stone soon began playing on Al Love's American Legion championship team.[3]

She began her professional career with the San Francisco Sea Lions (1949), where she batted in two runs in her first time up. Toni soon became discontented with the owner of the Sea Lions after she did not receive the pay she had been promised. She quit the team and joined the Black Pelicans of New Orleans. After a short stint with the Black Pelicans, Stone joined the New Orleans Creoles (1949–1952). She was signed by Syd Pollack, owner of the Indianapolis Clowns, in 1953 to play second base, the position Hank Aaron played for the team one year earlier. She did this as part of a publicity stunt. The Clowns were compared to the Harlem Globetrotters of the basketball world, so having a woman on the team attracted more fans. During the fifty games that Stone played for the Clowns, she maintained a .243 batting average, and one of her hits was off the legendary Satchel Paige.[3] All of these accomplishments may make her “one of the best players you have never heard of”, according to the NLBPA website. Stone's contract was sold to the Kansas City Monarchs prior to the 1954 season, and she retired following the season because of lack of playing time.[2]

After the 1954 season, Stone moved to Oakland, California to work as a nurse and care for her sick husband, who later died in 1987 at age 103. Toni died on November 2, 1996 at a nursing home in Alameda, California. She was 75 years old.


Stone was the first female player in the Negro Leagues, and she was not met with open arms. Most of the men shunned her and gave her a hard time because she was a woman. Stone was quite proud of the fact that the male players were out to get her. She would show off the scars on her left wrist and remember the time she had been spiked by a runner trying to take out the woman standing on second base. "He was out," she recalled.

Even though she was part of the team, she was not allowed in the locker room. If she was lucky, she would be allowed to change in the umpire’s locker room. Once, Stone was asked to wear a skirt while playing for sex appeal, but she would not do it. Even though she felt like she was “one of the guys,” the people around her did not. While playing for the Kansas City Monarchs, she spent most the game on the bench, next to the men who hated her. “It was hell,” she said.


Toni Stone became one of the first women to play as a regular on a big-league professional team in 1953. In 1985 Stone was inducted into the Women’s Sports Foundation’s International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame. In 1990 she was included in two exhibits at the Baseball Hall of Fame, one on “Women in Baseball” and another on “Negro League Baseball”. In 1993 Stone was inducted into the Women’s Sports Hall of Fame, as well as the Sudafed International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame. In 1990, Stone’s hometown of Saint Paul, Minnesota declared March 6 “Toni Stone Day”. Saint Paul also has a field named after Toni Stone [2] located at the Dunning Baseball Complex. She was 75 when she died.

See also


  1. ^ Martha,, Ackmann,. Curveball : the remarkable story of Toni Stone, the first woman to play professional baseball in the Negro League. ISBN 9781556527968. OCLC 680281078. 
  2. ^ a b c d Jones, Wendy (July 17, 2017). "'Barrier-breaking athlete Toni Stone got her start in baseball in St. Paul'". MinnPost. 
  3. ^ a b Thomas, Robert McG., Jr. (10 November 1996). "Toni Stone, 75, First Woman To Play Big-League Baseball". The New York Times. Retrieved 14 March 2012.
  • Ackmann, Martha (2010). Curveball: The Remarkable Story of Toni Stone, the First Woman to Play Professional Baseball in the Negro League. Chicago: Lawrence Hill Books. ISBN 978-1-55652-796-8. OCLC 489009727. 
  • Gregorich, Barbara (1993). Women at Play: The Story of Women in Baseball. San Diego: Harcourt Brace and Company. pp. 169–176. ISBN 978-0-15-698297-9. OCLC 27430189. 
  • Heaphy, Leslie. "Women Playing Hardball". Retrieved 14 March 2012.  Published as: Heaphy, Leslie (2004). "Chapter 16. Women Playing Hardball". In Bronson, Eric (ed.). Baseball and Philosophy: Thinking Outside the Batter's Box. Chicago: Open Court Publishing. pp. 246–256. ISBN 978-0-8126-9556-4. OCLC 53315358. 
  • Hubbard, Crystal (2005). Catching the Moon: The Story of a Young Girl's Baseball Dream. New York: Lee & Low Books. ISBN 1-58430-243-7. OCLC 57286141. 
  • McClean, Tony (9 February 2008). "The Ladies of The Negro Leagues (Part 1): Remembering Toni Stone". BlackAthlete Sports Network. Retrieved 14 March 2012. 
  • McNary, Kyle (October 2000). "Toni Stone". Pitch Black Negro League. McNary Publishing. Retrieved 14 March 2012. 
  • "Toni Stone". Negro League Baseball Players Association. Retrieved 14 March 2012. 
  • Silverman, Dan. "No League of Their Own". Retrieved 14 March 2012. 
  • Thomas, Robert McG., Jr. (10 November 1996). "Toni Stone, 75, First Woman To Play Big-League Baseball". The New York Times. Retrieved 14 March 2012. 

External links

  • Marcenia Lyle "Toni" Stone in MNopedia, the Minnesota Encyclopedia
  • Toni Stone in "A History of Minnesota Baseball" mural at Target Field in Minneapolis.
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