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From the time she was a girl growing up in the shadow of Lexington Park in Saint Paul, Minnesota, Toni Stone knew she wanted to play professional baseball. There was only one problem--every card was stacked against her. Curveball tells the inspiring story of baseball’s “female Jackie Robinson,” a woman whose ambition, courage, and raw talent propelled her from ragtag teams barnstorming across the Dakotas to playing in front of large crowds at Yankee Stadium. Toni Stone was the first woman to play professional baseball on men’s teams. After Robinson integrated the major leagues and other black players slowly began to follow, Stone seized an unprecedented opportunity to play professional baseball in the Negro League. She replaced Hank Aaron as the star infielder for the Indianapolis Clowns and later signed with the legendary Kansas City Monarchs. Playing alongside some of the premier athletes of all time including Ernie Banks, Willie Mays, Buck O’Neil, and Satchel Paige, Toni let her talent speak for itself. Curveball chronicles Toni Stone’s remarkable career facing down not only fastballs, but jeers, sabotage, and Jim Crow America as well. Her story reveals how far passion, pride, and determination can take one person in pursuit of a dream.
About the Author
Martha Ackmann is a journalist and the author of the award-winning The Mercury 13: The True Story of Thirteen Women and the Dream of Space Flight. Her sports commentary has appeared in the New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, and on National Public Radio's Only a Game. She has held fellowships and grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, and the Society for American Baseball Research. She teaches in the gender studies department at Mount Holyoke College.
"A fine addition for all baseball shelves." —Library Journal
"What makes Curveball stand out are the moving stories of racism faced by the black players, and Stone encountered more of it than most." —Publishers Weekly
"Expertly captures Stone's significant life and the impressive strength of her will." —Kirkus Reviews
"Martha Ackmann's biography of Toni Stone is three stories in one—of barnstorming baseball, the insidious Jim Crow era of segregation, and gender bias by blacks and whites. They are stories worth reading." —Larry Tye, author, Satchel: The Life and Times of an American Legend
"Wow! Martha Ackmann has done a wonderful job telling the story of Toni Stone, this remarkable woman. There are no tears, no quit, no despair in baseball. Stand tall, keep your eyes on the Prize. SWING!" —Nikki Giovanni
"We need to know [Toni Stone's] story, and in Martha Ackmann's capable hands, we do. From this time forward it will be impossible to overlook Stone or her heroic contribution to both the National Pastime and the cause of women's rights." —Glenn Stout, author, Young Woman and the Sea: How Trudy Ederle Conquered the English Channel and Inspired the World; editor, The Best American Sports Writing 2009
"Curveball is an eloquent and a necessary work. Toni Stone's life and this book are both wonders to behold." —Dayn Perry, columnist, FOXSports.com, and author, Reggie Jackson: The Life and Thunderous Career of Baseball's Mr. October
"Martha Ackmann has lovingly introduced us to someone in baseball whom almost none of us ever knew existed. We should thank her for that introduction to the indomitable Toni Stone and for guiding us to a forgotten place in the sport's history." —Frank Deford, columnist, Sports Illustrated, and author, Bliss, Remembered
“Curveball tells the remarkable story of Toni Stone, a trailblazer who broke the gender barriers in the world of professional baseball. Her courageous journey and experiences are sure to be an inspiration to anyone seeking to make a way out of no way.” —Donna Brazile , author of Cooking with Grease, syndicated columnist, and Democratic strategist
“As the Negro Leagues have faded from living memory, the tales have grown taller and truth has, sadly, become a casualty. Curveball bucks that trend, providing an unflinching and unvarnished account of Toni Stone’s life in baseball which ultimately does more to honor her legend and example than any amount of mythmaking.”—Craig Calcaterra , NBCsports.com