This Day in Sports History: The Teenage Girl who Struck out two Yankee Legends
Myth or fact? On this day a teenage girl who played minor league baseball struck out two baseball legends back to back during an exhibition game or did she?
The year was 1931 and the New York Yankees were playing an exhibition game against the Chattanooga Lookouts. The Lookouts employed the first female contracted baseball player in history, Jackie Mitchell, a 17 year-old lefty pitcher.
During this exhibition game Mitchell got the opportunity to face two of the all-time great hitters in baseball history, Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.
She was brought on in the middle of an inning and the first batter she would face would be the Great Bambino. Her first pitch would be a ball, then two straight swinging strikes, before Mitchell painted the corner to a called strike three, and Ruth threw his bat down in disgust.
The next batter was Lou Gehrig and the 17 year-old promptly set him down on three pitches, three swinging strikes, and making it look easy!
On just seven pitches she had struck out two of the mainstays on the Yankees, "Murders Row" lineup. The sold-out crowd was stunned that the local product who was making her professional baseball debut had just accomplished a feat that many major league pitchers had a hard time accomplishing.
Was it for real or was it for show? Some say that the Lookouts owner, Joe Engel, a known Showman set this up as a publicity stunt in order to sell tickets. It's never been confirmed but later Babe Ruth came out to the media and said that women are too delicate for Baseball and right after that Mitchell's contract was voided.
Jackie Mitchell passed away in 1987 and until the day she died she swore that the strikeouts were legitimate.
Here's the short story and video of her striking out Babe Ruth: