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stories and histories BIOGRAPHY OF TONI STONE

Biography of Toni Stone
Toni Stone (July 17, 1921 November 2, 1996), born as Marcenia Lyle Stone in Bluefield, WV, was the first women to play professional baseball full-time for the Indianapolis Clowns, in the previously all-male Negro leagues.This also made her the first woman to play as a regular on an American big-league professional baseball team.

A baseball player from her early childhood, she went on to play for the San Francisco Sea Lions, the New Orleans Creoles, the Indianapolis Clowns, and the Kansas City Monarchs before retiring from baseball in 1954. Stone was taunted at times by teammates, once being told, Go home and fix your husband some biscuits, but she was undeterred. It has been widely reported that during an exhibition game in 1953, she hit a single off a fastball pitch delivered by legendary player Satchel Paige.

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 (19491952).

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.

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.

After the 1954 season, Stone moved to Oakland, California to work as a nurse and care for her sick husband.

AWARDS & HONORS

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 located at the Dunning Baseball Complex.

2020 and 2021, the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) nominated Stone for the Dorothy Seymour Mills Lifetime Achievement Award.

On February 9, 2022, Google honored Stone's legacy and achievements by making her the Google Doodle on their homepage. The image depicts Stone fielding a baseball from her second base position and throwing the ball in the direction of first base, as the opposing team's runner crosses in front of her in the direction of second base. The Doodle was created by San Francisco-based illustrator and animation director, Monique Wray.


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