Debunks the myth that women can't hold their own playing professional baseball with menDocumenting multiple challenges at every turn—as a target for racism from society at large and sexism both inside and outside of the Negro League—this is the unique story of the first woman to play professional baseball on a men's team, breaking barriers in sports while believing, "There's got to be a first in everything. Maybe it will be me." Highlighting aggressive and resourceful behaviors, the text explains that as players began to leave the Negro League for major league teams, Toni Stone seized her only opportunity to play professional ball and replaced Henry Aaron on the Indianapolis Clowns, the Negro League's top team. Chronicling her career, this biography follows her experiences playing first with the Indianapolis Clowns, and later with the Kansas City Monarchs. It also details her encounters with the era's top athletes—Ernie Banks, Willie Mays, Buck O'Neil, and Satchel Paige to name a few. As the exploration reveals her remarkable talent, perseverance, and accomplishments, it shows how she posed as a double threat—black and female—to the dominance of white males in sports and society.
Reviews"A fine addition for all baseball shelves." —Library Journal
"What makes Curveball stand out are the moving stories of racism faced by the black players, and Stone encountered more of it than most." —Publishers Weekly
"Expertly captures Stone's significant life and the impressive strength of her will." —Kirkus
"Martha Ackmann's biography of Toni Stone is three stories in one—of barnstorming baseball, the insidious Jim Crow era of segregation, and gender bias by blacks and whites. They are stories worth reading." —Larry Tye, author, Satchel: The Life and Times of an American Legend
"Wow! Martha Ackmann has done a wonderful job telling the story of Toni Stone, this remarkable woman. There are no tears, no quit, no despair in baseball. Stand tall, keep your eyes on the Prize. SWING!" —Nikki Giovanni
"We need to know [Toni Stone's] story, and in Martha Ackmann's capable hands, we do. From this time forward it will be impossible to overlook Stone or her heroic contribution to both the National Pastime and the cause of women's rights." —Glenn Stout, author, Young Woman and the Sea: How Trudy Ederle Conquered the English Channel and Inspired the World; editor, The Best American Sports Writing 2009
"Curveball is an eloquent and a necessary work. Toni Stone's life and this book are both wonders to behold." —Dayn Perry, columnist, FOXSports.com, and author, Reggie Jackson: The Life and Thunderous Career of Baseball's Mr. October
"Martha Ackmann has lovingly introduced us to someone in baseball whom almost none of us ever knew existed. We should thank her for that introduction to the indomitable Toni Stone and for guiding us to a forgotten place in the sport's history." —Frank Deford, columnist, Sports Illustrated, and author, Bliss, Remembered
Author BiographyMartha Ackmann is a journalist and the author of the award-winning The Mercury 13: The True Story of Thirteen Women and the Dream of Space Flight. Her sports commentary has appeared in the New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, and on National Public Radio's Only a Game. She has held fellowships and grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, and the Society for American Baseball Research. She teaches in the gender studies department at Mount Holyoke College and lives in Leverett, Massachusetts.