THROWback Thursday: Baseball's Winning Women

We're highlighting women past and present who stand in a league of their own. They play with boys and start their own teams, paving the way for athletic women everywhere to hit homeruns and pitch strikes. MAKERS cheers for outstanding women on offense and in the outfield! Click through for their words and actions of inspiration.

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Mamie ‘Peanut’ Johnson was the only female pitcher in the history of the Negro Leagues. She pitched for the Indianapolis Clowns from 1953 to 1955. She went 33-8 in her career, and recently returned to the stadium to cheer on Mo’ne Davis at the Little League World Series. “That’s me when I was her age — the size, the way she throws, everything,” she told NY Daily News. In this photo, she stands on the Washington D.C. field where she got her start; it’s now named after her.

Dorothy “Dottie” Kamenshek was a star in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball league, inspiring the lead character in “A League of Their Own.” She played for the Rockford Peaches from 1943 to 1953 and was named one of the top 100 female athletes of the century by Sports Illustrated. 

Maria Pepe was the starting pitcher in the Hoboken Little League, but she only got to play in three games before the Little League banned her because she was a girl. The National Organization for Women fought for her right to play, and in 1974, the New Jersey Superior Court ruled that the Little League had to allow girls to play. By that time, Pepe was too old for the Little League, but she realizes her courage in the face of discrimination has reverberated across the country. She told MAKERS, “Sometimes it’s good to lose because maybe there’s a greater good.” Watch the full story.

A girl approached Feminist Majority leader and activist Ellie Smeal. She said she wanted to play Little League but they wouldn’t let her. When Ellie explained that the organization had a lot on its plate, the girl started to cry. She said, “But Mrs. Smeal, if you don’t take it on, who will?” Smeal listened to her appeal the second time around: hundreds of NOW supporters picketed the World Series with frisbees and balloons that said “Give girls a chance.”  Hear the story in Ellie's words.

At 8, Kayla Roncin told her dad she would play in Williamsport. When she hit a two-homer in the team’s state championship game, all the parents started chanting, “Hit like a girl!” Roncin said of her team’s state victory, “I was just so happy and excited that we all work together to go this far and be the best team in New Jersey.”

Mo’ne Davis’ intro song at games is Beyonce’s “Run the World (Girls). As the first girl to throw a shutout in the Little League World Series, with a 70 MPH fastball, she’s a formidable opponent. Though her reputation is no longer any secret, she used to capitalize on the other team’s expectations. She told ESPNw, “They think I throw soft, but then they see my fastball and they get kind of scared, and I just strike them out.”  9 Things Slower Than a Mo'ne Davis Fastball Mo'ne Makes the Cover of Sports Illustrated