Jackie Mitchell with Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig
Jackie Mitchell caption

A few days after the exhibition game, Baseball Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis voided Jackie Mitchell's contract, claiming that baseball was "too strenuous" for a woman.

Crushed and disappointed, Jackie began barnstorming, traveling across the country pitching in exhibition games. In 1933, when she was 19, she signed on with the House of David, a men's team famous for their very long hair and long beards. She traveled with them until 1937, but eventually got tired of the sideshow aspects of barnstorming -- like playing an inning while riding a donkey.

At the age of 23, she retired and went to work in her father's optometry office, although she continued to play with local teams from time to time.

"She uses an odd, side-armed delivery, and puts both speed and curve on the ball. Her greatest asset, however, is control. She can place the ball where she pleases, and her knack at guessing the weakness of a batter is uncanny .... She doesn't hope to enter the big show this season, but she believes that with careful training she may soon be the first woman to pitch in the big leagues." The Chattanooga News, March 31, 1931

"The Yankees will meet a club here that has a girl pitcher named Jackie Mitchell, who has a swell change of pace and swings a mean lipstick. I suppose that in the next town the Yankees enter they will find a squad that has a female impersonator in left field, a sword swallower at short, and a trained seal behind the plate. Times in the South are not only tough but silly." The New York Daily News, April 2, 1931

"I don't know what's going to happen if they begin to let women in baseball. Of course, they will never make good. Why? Because they are too delicate. It would kill them to play ball every day." Babe Ruth

"Cynics may contend that on the diamond as elsewhere it is place aux dames. Perhaps Miss Jackie hasn't quite enough on the ball yet to bewilder Ruth and Gehrig in a serious game. But there are no such sluggers in the Southern Association, and she may win laurels this season which cannot be ascribed to mere gallantry. The prospect grows gloomier for misogynists." The New York Times, April 4, 1931




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