By: Jean L. S. Patrick
Adapted by: Emma Carlson Berne
Publisher: Graphic Universe
Publication Date: January 2011
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: March 29, 2011
Reporters gathered round the table where Jackie Mitchell was sitting. She smiled as they asked questions and took pictures of her as she got ready to sign her contract to play baseball for the Chattanooga Lookouts. As she put her pen to the contract Mr. Engels had drafted for her, everyone smiled and wished her good luck. One of the reporters shook her hand and said, “Someday, you could become a major-league pitcher---and I’m going to help you.” Jackie had been preparing to face Babe Ruth all her life and the only thing she had on her mind was striking out the home-run king. The news was on the radio, in the newspapers, and people began to debate about whether it was the real deal or if it was “all a stunt.”
Jackie was worried, but her parents tried to put her at ease as the big day, April 1, approached. It began to rain and the game was postponed until the next day. Jackie suited up and went to the park. The players were on the field warming up when she arrived. She glanced around the field and saw Yankees Lyn Lary at shortstop, Tony Lazzeri at second, and Lou Gehrig on first. Jackie was awestruck when Babe Ruth approached the batter’s box. Her father said, “Watch him closely, Jackie.” She was good at guessing “a batter’s weakness,” but this was the big leagues. Jackie began her warm up pitching with Eddie Kenna until it was time for her to pitch. Soon she was up on the pitcher’s mound facing the Babe. Jackie was nervous and the first pitch was a ball. Would she be able to strike him out? Would she prove that women really were “too delicate for the game?”
This is a true story of a young woman who actually was signed to a men’s minor league baseball team, the Chattanooga Lookouts in the 1930s by Joe Engel. There was no doubt she was a great pitcher, but according to the author in the afterword, Kenesaw Mountain Landis “canceled Jackie’s contract and banned her from professional baseball” after the exhibition game as he felt “the game was too tough for women.” This tale, set in the form of a graphic novel, was exciting and will be of interest to many young people who are interested in baseball history. The introduction and afterword give a nice concise history of the role of women in baseball and the ongoing debate over the actual events. This is one in the series, “History’s Kid Heroes.” This is a fascinating glimpse of a “girl pitcher” that has long been forgotten by most fans. This is one book you might want to consider adding to your shelves!
Quill says: This is an exciting story about Jackie Mitchell, a “girl pitcher” who faced Babe Ruth.