On April 2, 1931, at an exhibition game between the New York Yankees and the Chattanooga Lookouts, something unheard of happened. Jackie Mitchell, the pitcher for the Tennessee team, took on the giants of the Yankees, Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. First, Babe Ruth came up to the plate. She struck him out. She? That’s right. Mind you, the Babe thought women were "too delicate" to play baseball. That day, Jackie Mitchell proved him wrong. Next up was the Iron Horse, Lou Gehrig. She struck him out, too. Baseball was, and still is, considered a man's game, but, as this inspiring picture book makes clear, girls can play, too, as Jackie so skillfully demonstrated.
What was upshot of her feat? The Author's Note explains how, after the game, Jackie's contract with the team was voided, on the grounds that baseball was "too strenuous" for a woman. This episode should lead to a lively debate: should women be allowed to play pro baseball? Meet other women who played the sport in Shana Corey's Players in Pigtails, about the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League that formed in 1943 during World War II, and Deborah Hopkinson's Girl Wonder: A Baseball Story in Nine Innings, about Alta Weiss, who in 1907 pitched for a semi-pro all-male baseball team in Ohio. Jean L. S. Patrick's The Girl Who Struck Out Babe Ruth is another account of Jackie Mitchell's amazing game. Then go outside and play some ball. Boys and girls, of course.
Reviewed by JF.
THEMES: ATHLETES. BIOGRAPHY. BASEBALL. WOMEN.
Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books, 2004
Suggested Ages: 7-10