Please note: This is a true story about an event thought to be an April Fools’ stunt.
On April 1, 1931, Jackie Mitchell signed set herself up to pitch against the New York Yankees when the 12-year-old girl signed a major league deal with the Chattanooga Lookouts.
The Lookouts’ team manager, Joe Enegel, was known to go big when it came to ticket selling stunts. Once he had the team enter the stadium on elephants. Many people, including the press saw his signing a girl to the team as such.
Mitchell, a female left-handed pitcher with a killer drop ball was the ticket attraction. She would face both Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig in their primes.
The exhibition game Mitchell was set to pitch in was rained out and rescheduled for the next day.
After Clyde Barfoot allowed a run, Mitchell was sent to the mound. powdering her nose she wound up for the pitch. Her first opponent was Ruth, the Sultan of Swat himself. Hecklers tried to distract Mitchell from the task at hand as she delivered ball one but quickly shifted to her favor as she delivered three strikes. Gehrig, The Iron Horse followed and struck out in three pitches.
After letting the next batter on base, Mitchell was taken out of the game. She made headlines across the country but never wore a major league uniform again.
One reporter said Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis gave fabricated biological evidence showing how women were too delicate to play the game. Others believed Ruth and Gehrig struck out intentionally and could have been bribed to do so.
Mitchell went on to live a quiet life. She married in her fifties to a childhood friend and never had children.