Mamie on the Mound: A Woman in Baseball’s Negro Leagues by Leah Henderson
Published: January 2020
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Leah Henderson gives the reader an informative introduction to Mamie Johnson’s journey to playing Negro League Baseball. From her love of the sport in her early childhood to playing professionally as a pitcher for three seasons with the Negro League in the early 1950s.
Mamie “Peanut” Johnson’s story is one that will inspire students to pursue their dreams, athletic or otherwise. The obstacles she faced would not stop her. She kept pressing forward, even when she (and other Black baseball players) were rejected by the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. The organization’s name then was a misnomer if, in fact, they did not mean for their league to include ALL women. “All was still not equal.” As a woman, I can applaud their efforts to create a platform for women baseball players but as a Black woman, I wish they would have known what it meant to be an ally in the fight for equality. Still, Mamie Johnson persisted-to the point of success on the pitcher’s mound and beyond.
This is a book I can’t wait to share with my students. Thank you to the organizers of the Multicultural Children’s Book Day (Co-Founders: Valerie Budayr and Mia Wenjen) for providing us with a copy. It has been added to our K-5 library for our staff and students to enjoy.
“She may have been small, but she had a strong right arm and used it to follow her heart, becoming the first female pitcher in professional baseball history.”
~ Mamie on the Mound: A Woman in Baseball’s Negro Leagues by Leah Henderson
As an aside, one particular thing that I appreciated being shared so candidly about Mamie Johnson was her choice at the age of 19, to slip “away from her mother and her new family, a husband and baby son,” to travel to play baseball. This had to be a difficult decision for her to make and at first, I didn’t know how to feel about this choice but as her desire to play likely could not be squelched, how could she not go after the opportunity to play professionally? Though it is not mentioned, I would like to imagine that her family grew to support her decision. Having this included in the narrative caused me to pause and think about my own pursuits and work/family life balance. Our student readers aren’t too young to talk about prioritizing and finding balance in the day-to-day rigor of the busyness they experience in their lives.
Leah Henderson | http://www.leahhendersonbooks.com/
George Doutsiopoulos | http://gdoutsiopoulos.daportfolio.com/
Capstone Editions | https://www.capstonepub.com/consumer/brands/capstone-editions/