Her name was Jackie Mitchell. She was a young woman of 17 years of age. She was a left-hander. And she could really pitch!
Ms. Mitchell was signed by the Chattanooga Lookouts to pitch in an exhibition game against the Yankees in April 1931. The Lookouts’ owner, Joe Engel, was a publicity hound known as “the recognized P.T. Barnum of baseball”. In the first inning, the mighty home run champion Babe Ruth stepped up to the plate for the Yankees. Mitchell stepped on the mound and struck out Ruth in three straight pitches. Then, future hall-of-famer Lou Gehrig came to the plate. Jackie struck him out in just three pitches. She then walked the next batter – Tony Lazzeri – before being removed from the game. According to reports, after being struck-out, Ruth threw his bat and Gehrig moped back to the dugout, bat dragging on the ground behind him.
Despite the fact that Mitchell struck out two of baseball’s greatest hitters on six combined pitches, within a few days of her performance, baseball’s first commissioner, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, voided Mitchell’s contract with the Lookouts, claiming baseball was “too strenuous” for a woman. [JanetTV.com comment: “The lengths men will go to in order to protect their egos!“]