Thursday, June 05, 2008

An Amazing Thing Happened Today

Got Game, (c) 2004 By Jeane Vogel
22x30, $350

Girls Want to Play, from the What Girls Want series, (c) 2005, Jeane Vogel
22x30, $350

An amazing thing happened today -- Mamie "Peanut" Johnson was drafted by the Washington Nationals. This amazing pitcher, virtually unknown, is the only woman to have played professional ball with men.

She played for a short time in the old Negro Leagues. With and against some of the best players in the game. Of course, most baseball fans never saw any of them, because they weren't allowed to play with whites. Most people pick up the story with Jackie Robinson in 1947.

But long before Jackie, there were men and women who played. If the black men were discriminated against, women of all colors didn't have a chance. Except Peanut. She was that good.

Maime "Peanut" Johnson and 29 other living players from the Negro Leagues were ceremoniously drafted by major league teams today.

It's about time.

There's a scene in the movie "A League of Their Own" that makes me cry every time I see it.

The "girls" of the All American Girls Baseball League are playing. A ball get away and rolls in front of a young black woman who's watching the white women play. The black woman fires the stray ball back to Geena Davis. They have a moment of understanding -- the black woman announced her power and skill, the white woman acknowledged that the black woman should be in uniform with them. The story line doesn't allow for much more and you might miss it if you didn't know the whole story, but It's a nod to Peanut. There aren't many directors who would have bothered to include the scene, but it's part of our story as women, as baseball fans and as a racially divided country. Kudos to Director Penny Marshall for reminding us that even something like baseball, as frivolous as it might seem, as annoying commercial as it has become, is still a reflection of our values and dreams.

Oh yeah, and the Democrats nominated Barak Obama for President. Wow! What a week!

1 comment:

Katy Widrick said...

My company does video news stories on great people with awesome attitudes -- they don't get much better than some of the Negro League players who broke barriers in baseball!

You can see a video we did at MLB's recent symbolic draft of Negro League players, which includes Millito Navarro, Peanut Johnson, Charley Pride and Bill Blair as well as Ken Griffey and Dave Winfield.

I hope you enjoy it!