“Behind every great man is a great woman.”UNKNOWN
That phrase could not only apply to the strong women in our lives, but also to women who had a significant impact on Major League Baseball.
In March, we celebrate the women who have positively impacted our society in the past and present day. In this special report, we will share some of the incredible women from the past who have had a significant impact on Major League Baseball. Hopefully, in the near future, we will be able to write about more examples of women who are currently impacting the sport.
Mamie “Peanut” Johnson
(September 27, 1935 – December 18, 2017)
Mamie Johnson was one of the first women to pitch in the Negro Leagues. Johnson’s nickname was “Peanut” during her career due to her small height of 5 feet, 3 inches. According to history, she earned the nickname after an at-bat where she faced Hank Baylis of the Kansas City Monarchs. According to news accounts of that day, after a hard strike, Baylis stepped out of the batter’s box and said, ‘why, that little girl’s no bigger than a peanut. I ain’t afraid of her,’ and then Johnson struck him out.
In June of 2008, Johnson and other players from the Negro League era were “drafted” by Major League Baseball before the 2008 MLB first-year draft. The Washington Nationals selected Johnson.
Johnson was born Mamie Belton in Ridgeway, South Carolina, on September 27, 1935, to Della Belton Havelow and Gentry Harrison. She lived for a time in Long Branch, New Jersey, before moving to Washington, D.C. in the 1940s. Johnson died at age 82 in Washington D.C. in 2017.