In our present evolving world where women have upheld their roles and advanced in all spheres of life whether cultural, academic or professional proving to erase the male oriented world which for ages looked down upon women. However, this change and mark in history only became possible due to the extraordinary women like Toni Stone who rewrote the definition of successful women who can choose and thrive in the traditionally labeled “male fields”.
If you are someone who loves powerful women who marked and changed the course of the world by showing how women can play like men and work anywhere they believe they can, then you need to know about Toni Stone. The black woman who with her interest and strength made her way to the top of the baseball field!
Toni Stone: The Power House Woman Baseball star
Who Is Toni Stone?
Toni Stone, originally named Marcenia Lyle Stone was born in 1921 on July 7th was a precious little girl who would go on to defy the unfair order of the world and paved a pathway of strength and success for generations of women to come both in the field of sports and as a black women in a time when black people still faced brutal racism.
Growing up in Saint Paul, Minnesota, Stone made her personality and passion known as she played with the boys of the neighborhood in their baseball matches. She was the only girl who could play in with the other gender being a girl and compete with them. Even though this lead to the people perceiving Stone as tomboyish due to baseball seen as a male sports and not ladylike, however Toni Stone proved otherwise as even after her mother’s attempts to push her towards more feminine perceived games, she stood firm on her interest defying the world’s customs of the time.
Also growing up, Toni Stone is regarded as overall good in athletes as she is said to have mastered not only baseball but swimming, basketball and even could handle football due to her natural passion for sports. However, her natural interest towards Baseball since she was a kid
shaped her to only follow her interest in the field even though she could also do finely in academics.
Stone’s parents were advised by their catholic priest to send her for training as a pitcher to the Catholic Church Boys Baseball Team. However, customary to the male dominant culture, the male coach didn’t have fair behavior towards her which led to Toni Stone learning the rules and guiding herself on her own. But, she didn’t stop there and after trying several teams Stone moved to San Francisco with her sister at the completion of high school. This was the turning point as there she received the recognition she needed.
Career In Baseball
Toni Stone’s life is a historical marvel as she represents the black women in sports in history. As she moved to San francisco, she got acquainted with, Alroyd Love, who introduced her to the American Legion Baseball team and so from the year 1943 to 1945, Stone played in the league however through her trick as she hid her original age of 27 and instead,documented herself as 17 years old to meet the age requirements!
Later in the year 1949, Stone made her way into the San Francisco Sea Lions team, however much to her disappointment, they did not offer her the challenging game due to her gender as the one she had the passion to give. Hence why Stone changed the team and tried her luck to be taken seriously which was evidenced by her lower pay than her male team mates. So, she entered the New Orleans Creones and played for 3 years from 1949 to 1952.
In 1953’s season of baseball, Toni Stone came in contact with Syd Pollock, the owner of the Indianapolis Clowns who offered Stone second base. Stone agreed to the deal as she was offered her competitive wage of $12000 in the deal for her to play in the team for the season. . for her incredible baseball skills as well as to showcase in the team a woman to gain more spectators to watch her play amongst the male players.
However, Stone proved her worth as an incredible baseball player for the season as she played in 50 games for the Indianapolis Clowns. Nowonder, the team gave Stone the spotlight as due to her full of zeal performance in the games as the only female in the team, their number of audience and fans doubled!
The same way, Stone continued to make a legacy in the baseball sports for ages to come as a woman and officially after the baseball season of 1954, retired from her active sports life. Stone chose to settle in Oakland, California and worked in the healthcare field serving as a nurse for her remainder life.
Toni Stone: Fighting Sexism & Racism In Sports
After much recognition and breaking records in the baseball field even after the sexism as well as racism pushed her to give up, Stone never stepped back and only found more strength to become the baseball star she knew she was since she was a kid.
However, it would not be wrong to say that there were times she reportedly stated regarding this subject whether it be due to the unfair pay gap she faced due to her gender in that time or objectifications on her appearance and career.
Toni Stone also faced the brunt of racism as there was in fact All Women American Baseball League however due to their racist standards of signing in only the white women who met the desired beauty standards, Stone couldn;t be signed in the Women’s team. She also frequently faced sexist men who couldn’t gulp down the fact that Stone is indeed talented and can challenge in the game more than her male counterparts. As the manager of the Clowns said to her infamously to “stick to stick to knitting and home cooking however Bunny Downs was taken aback by the sheer talent of Stone as he saw her play. She faced so much hate for merely following and contributing in the baseball field as a colored women that she often state, “it was hell” as she had to sit beside male players who behaved in a derogatory way with her Even to the extent that despite increasing the audience and wins for the teams she played, Stone was not even allowed to use the locker room.
However, Toni Stone never gave up on her passion despite facing the harsh reality of sexism and racial objectification at the time in her personal life as well as in professional life.
In Memory Of Toni Stone
Toni Stone tragically died in November of 1996 as she suffered a fatal heart attack. However, her legacy is strong enough to withstand time and she received the recognition she deserved rightfully as the world’s culture advanced and changed for the better for women in sports.
By 1990, while Stone lived she was honored with being included in the Baseball Hall Of Fame’s exhibit. In the exhibits, she was included in one of them, “Women In Baseball” and another exhibit of “Negro League Baseball:. Both of these truly honor the legacy of Toni Stone as she will always be marked in the history of women in sports and of color as she single handedly demanded the world to change and accept passionate women in noit just sports but in all fields!
It’s worth knowing how Toni Stone made this journey of breaking barriers as since she was a little girl who was constantly facing a world which was anti women, even as a kid she stood her ground and defied the patriarchal roles everyone around her tried to place her in by choosing to show herself in a field which hadn’t seen such a passionate female baseball player.
We hope the above article informs you about how Toni Stone became a legend and marks a record of history for a successful first female baseball legend!