She’s finally getting her flowers!
The first woman to regularly play in a major men’s professional baseball league is being honored in a new Google Doodle, MLB.com reports.
Marcenia “Toni” Stone was born in 1921 in Bluefield, West Virginia, later relocating to St. Paul, Minnesota. According to Google, Stone got so good at baseball as a child that by age 15, she had been asked to join the all-male semi-pro Twin Cities Colored Giants league, making history as the first woman to be added to their roster. In 1946, she began her professional career, joining the San Francisco Sea Lions.
Stone would continue in the minor leagues for nearly a decade, recording an impressive batting average of .280 which eventually earned her a spot on the bench with the Negro League All-Star team. At the time, she was still playing second base for the New Orleans Creoles, a minor league team. In 1953, she made history, breaking the gender barrier as the first woman to play in a major American men’s professional sports league, joining the Negro League with the Indianapolis Clowns as a replacement for Hank Aaron. Stone fought through prejudice during her league debut, hitting a single off of Satchel Paige, who is considered the greatest pitcher in Negro League history.
She would go on to play with the league for two seasons, playing a stint with the Kansas City Monarchs in 1954 and having the opportunity to play alongside other icons including Jackie Robinson, eventually retiring from professional baseball that same year. In 1993, Stone would be inducted into the Women’s Sports Hall of Fame and the International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame, passing away just three years later at the age of 75.
Over the years, Stone’s legacy has been virtually obscure, getting noticed primarily in her hometown of St. Paul, where in 1990 March 6th was declared “Toni Stone Day,” and baseball players practice on the Toni Stone Field. However, in recent years there has been a resurgence of support for this pioneer and fans have taken a renewed interest in her story. In 2019, an off-Broadway play entitled “Toni Stone” toured several U.S. cities and in 2021, she was inducted into the Star Tribune’s Minnesota Sports Hall of Fame.
Now, the baseball legend is being honored in a new Google Doodle in celebration of Black History Month, possibly her most global honor yet. The doodle is a part of Google’s commitment to highlighting Black historical figures throughout the month of February, reimagining their iconic logo with an illustration by San Francisco-based illustrator and animation director, Monique Wray.
Batter up! ⚾️
In honor of U.S. #BlackHistoryMonth, today’s #GoogleDoodle celebrates the life & legacy of baseball phenom Marcenia “Toni” Stone—the 1st woman to play as a regular in a major men’s professional baseball leagueadvertisement
— Google Doodles (@GoogleDoodles) February 9, 2022
Wray’s doodle features an animated loop of Stone making a play at second base, donned in her Clowns uniform, sporting a gold earring and necklace. To create the illustration, Wray studied reels of second baseman along with images of Stone and footage from mid-century baseball to attempt to recreate what Stone might have looked like in action. Wray says she’s excited that after a career battling gender and racial discrimination, Stone is finally getting her just due.
“I got kind of like a passion from photography of her, and just kind of the way she spoke about what she does, and her love of the sport and her love for life. So I tried to give [the Doodle] some of that energy,” Wray told reporters.
This is Wray’s first solo endeavor for Google but her second highlighted Doodle on the platform, her first being part of a collaborative effort in honor of Teacher Appreciation Week in May 2021. Wray said the accomplishment is a “bucket list” item for her as an artist, saying she’s just as excited the second time around.
“Being a little girl who wants to make art for a living, and growing up and doing that in such a large way, and being commissioned to do something on such a large platform, that’s also meaningful –speaking about who Toni Stone is. It feels full circle, for sure,” said Wray.
You can check out the Toni Stone Google Doodle on www.google.com.
Photo Courtesy of Getty Images/Google