About Toni Stone
New York has a brand-new heroine—and a big new hit. Lydia Diamond’s new play—the New York Times Critic’s Pick—knocks it out of the park with an intensely theatrical glimpse into the world of the first woman to go pro in baseball’s Negro Leagues. Obie Award winner April Matthis leads the cast of this funny and fascinating story of race, gender, ambition…and an unremembered superstar you’ll never forget.
Tell Me More
Toni Stone hit a home run — literally. She was the first woman to play professional baseball in the Negro League, after second baseman Hank Aaron split from the Indianapolis Clowns to join the major leagues. And while her dream of playing professional ball came true, life still threw the female athlete some serious curveballs. Though Toni was undeniably talented — playing the game since she was 10-years-old — Clowns owner Syd Pollack hired her to draw crowds, and she was constantly met with hate and hardships for being different.
Starring April Matthis, the world premiere of Lydia R. Diamond’s play “Toni Stone,” based on the biography “Curveball: The Remarkable Story of Toni Stone” by Martha Ackmann, tells the story of how this gifted baseball player went from Minnesota to the Negro major league — and fought with all her might not to strike out when it came to seeking social justice.
What To Watch For
- Both playwright Lydia R. Diamond and author Martha Ackmann, who wrote “Curveball,”were fellows at Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University.
- Toni Stone came to be known as “the female Jackie Robinson.”
- Stone wanted to be treated like her teammates, so when she was asked by Clowns owner Syd Pollack to wear a skirt, she threatened to quit. “I wasn’t going to wear no shorts,” she said. “This is professional baseball.”
- Stone was the first of only three women who made it onto the professional Negro League. Mamie Johnson and Connie Morgan were the females who followed in Stone’s footsteps.
- During her time playing for the Clowns, Stone maintained a .243 batting average, and one of her hits was off Satchel Paige, one of the best pitchers in baseball history.
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