Toni Stone was born in West Virginia during an era of pronounced racial segregation in American sports.
She began her professional career playing for the Wall Post American Legion Team and the San Francisco Sea Lions.
“During Toni’s career, she suffered humiliating prejudices from the audience and her teammates. However, she never let that stop her from playing baseball.”
Google’s latest Doodle honors athlete Toni Stone Wednesday, celebrating the day she was inducted into the Minnesota Sports Hall of Fame.
Stone overcame gender and racial discrimination to become the first woman in history to play professional baseball in a men’s major baseball league.
The Doodle is also in honor of Black History Month, which falls every year in February and celebrates the accomplishments and history of members of the Black community within the United States.
“Toni was a trailblazer, a Black woman doing things she’s not expected to do, whether the world likes it or not,” said Monique Wray, the San Francisco-based artist behind the Doodle, in a release by Google.
Stone was born in West Virginia during an era of pronounced racial segregation in American sports. When she was 10, her parents invited a Catholic priest to dissuade Stone from playing baseball.
Stone dropped out of high school and later worked as a shipyard forklift operator and a cafeteria employee in San Francisco, where her sister lived. She began her professional career playing for the Wall Post American Legion Team and the San Francisco Sea Lions in the West Coast Negro Baseball League. She made about $200 to $300 per month, according to Black Past. That’s equivalent to about $3,000 to $6,000 by today’s dollar.
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“Toni’s gift was to play sports, and she is celebrated today because she fought to play in a men’s baseball club in Minnesota. With the help of her priest who spoke to the baseball club’s coach, Toni got into the club,” Maria Bart low, Stone’s niece, told Google.
Her batting average of .280 earned her a spot on the bench with the Negro League All-Star team while she continued to travel across the United States playing second base for the minor league New Orleans Creoles, according to a Google release.
When she married Aurelious Pescia Alberga in 1950, a man 40 years her senior, he did not approve of her playing baseball, according to BlackPast.
Nevertheless, she continued to play for the Indianapolis Clowns and kept playing until her retirement in 1954.
“Aunt Toni loved visiting schools and talking to children about her days in baseball. She always had a warm smile and reminded school kids that they could do anything they wanted to do if they just tried. She would be happy to see the many opportunities that women have achieved today, especially women of color,” said Shawn Bartlow, Stone’s great-nephew, to Google.
When researching Stone for the Doodle, Wray also noticed that, despite the challenges Stone experienced, she always had a “massive smile” on her face.
Still room to grow in Major League Baseball
Despite trailblazers like Stone, discrimination in Major League Baseball is still a major issue, especially on the management level, according to baseball executives.
“The thing very clear in baseball is that nothing is being done to change the process,” former GM Dave Stewart told USA TODAY Sports. “I think baseball is getting worse. The baseball practices are much worse.”
There have been 17 managerial openings in the past two off-seasons since Major League Baseball publicly vowed change in the wake of the George Floyd murder and 15 general manager and head of baseball operation openings since Draft Day in 2020.
None of the jobs were filled by a Black candidate.
Currently, there are only two Black managers in Major League Baseball: Dusty Baker of the Houston Astros and Dave Roberts of the Los Angeles Dodgers. No other Black manager has been hired since Lloyd McClendon in 2013.