Young readers will root for Toni “Tomboy” Stone, the first woman (and the first Black woman) to break into professional baseball—taking over Hank Aaron’s roster spot—in this nonfiction picture book biography.
Nothing could stop Toni “Tomboy” Stone from playing baseball—not even her parents. The only girl on a church team, she persevered as insults were hurled her way from the boy players. She caught the attention of former major leaguer Gabby Street, who gave her a chance at his summer baseball school. With Coach Street’s training—and the cleats he gifted her—Toni managed to earn a spot in the minor leagues. Though teams were hesitant to sign a woman, she pitched the idea that fans would pay to see a woman play—and it worked! But Toni’s persistence and optimism were not enough to win over the Jim Crow South crowds nor her male teammates. Coaches put her in the starting lineup and then benched her early, every game, no matter her results. But her talent got noticed and she was signed by the Indianapolis Clowns, becoming the first woman to break into the pros. “Toni arrives,” shouted newspaper headlines, and she delivered! In her first professional game she ripped a single and drove in two runs, and left the crowd chanting “TONI! TONI! TONI!”