cover image Mamie on the Mound: A Woman in Baseball’s Negro Leagues

Mamie on the Mound: A Woman in Baseball’s Negro Leagues

Leah Henderson, illus. by George Doutsiopoulos. Capstone Editions, $18.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-68446-023-6

In this biography of Mamie “Peanut” Johnson (1935–2017), “the first female pitcher in professional baseball,” Henderson focuses on Johnson’s determination and passion for the sport. “Swinging a tree limb for a bat, she knocked homemade balls of stone wrapped with twine and masking tape.” Playing professionally was unlikely (“She already had two strikes against her./ She was a girl./ She was black”), but barred from trying out for the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League—even after Jackie Robinson joined the Brooklyn Dodgers—she eventually landed an opportunity to pitch for the Negro League’s Indianapolis Clowns, where she earned a 33–8 record. Johnson’s grit appeals: “She would say, ‘Don’t emphasize the hardness of it,’ because she and the other players were doing what they wanted to do—playing the game they loved.” Smoothly exaggerated realism gives Doutsiopoulos’s illustrations an engaging cartoon flair. Ages 8–12. (Jan.)