THE Black woman of pro baseball, Toni Stone
*Toni Stone’s birth in 1921 is celebrated on this date. She was an African American professional baseball player.
Born Marcenia Lyle Alberga in St. Paul, Minnesota, as a teenager she played with the local boys' teams in her hometown. During World War II she moved to San Francisco, playing first with an AAGPBL American Legion team, then moving to the San Francisco Sea Lions, a Black, semi-pro barnstorming team; she drove in two runs in her first at-bat.
The AAGPBL was segregated throughout it's 12 year existence even though their male counterparts integrated in 1947, their fifth year of play. She didn't feel that the owner was paying her what they'd originally agreed on, so when the team played in New Orleans, she switched and joined the Black Pelicans. From there she went to the New Orleans Creoles, part of the Negro League minors, where she made $300 a month in 1949. The local Black Press reported that she made several unassisted double plays, and batted.265.
In 1953, the Indianapolis Clowns, signed Stone to play second base, a position that had been recently vacated when the Boston Braves signed Hank Aaron. This contract made Stone the first woman to play in the Negro Leagues. The Clowns had begun as a gimmick team, much like the Harlem Globetrotters, known as much for their showmanship as their playing. But by the '50s they had toned down their antics and were playing straight baseball. Having a woman on the team didn't hurt revenues, which had been declining steadily since Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in the majors, and many young Black players left the Negro Leagues.
In 1954, her contract was sold to the Kansas City Monarchs, one of the stronger teams in the Negro Leagues. But a lack of playing time led Stone to retire that season. Toni Stone died in 1996.
Minnesota Historical Society
345 W. Kellogg Blvd.
Saint Paul, MN 55102-1906
Today in American History