Mamie Johnson

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Mamie Johnson
Mamie "Peanut" Johnson.jpg
Johnson in 2014
Born: (1935-09-27)September 27, 1935
Ridgeway, South Carolina
Died: December 18, 2017(2017-12-18) (aged 82)
Washington, D.C.
Batted: Right Threw: Right
Negro Leagues debut
1953, for the Indianapolis Clowns
Last appearance
1955, for the Indianapolis Clowns
Negro Leagues statistics
Win–loss record 33–8

Mamie "Peanut" Johnson (September 27, 1935 – December 18, 2017) was an American professional baseball player who was one of three women, and the first female pitcher, to play in the Negro Leagues.


Johnson was born Mamie Belton in Ridgeway, South Carolina on September 27, 1935 to Della Belton Havelow and Gentry Harrison.[1][2] She lived for a time in Long Branch, New Jersey before moving to Washington, D.C. in the 1940s.[3] She was signed by the Indianapolis Clowns in 1953, played with the team from 1953 to 1955, and had a 33–8 win-loss record.[4] A right-handed pitcher with a deceptively hard fastball, she also threw a slider, circle changeup, curveball, screwball, and knuckleball.[1][5] She received pointers on pitching the curveball from Satchel Paige.[1][6] At the plate, batting right-handed,[7] her batting average was in the range of .262 to .284.[8][9][10][11][12][13]

Johnson was known as "Peanut" during her career due to her height—5 feet, 3 inches.[12] Johnson earned the nickname after an at-bat in which she faced Hank Baylis of the Kansas City Monarchs. After a hard strike, Baylis stepped out of the batter's box and said, "Why, that little girl's no bigger than a peanut. I ain't afraid of her." She proceeded to strike him out.[14] Johnson is the subject of the book A Strong Right Arm, describing her life growing up and the obstacles to her becoming a professional Negro League baseball player.

After retiring, she earned a nursing degree from North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University and established a 30-year career in the field.[15][13] (Before playing professional baseball, she had been accepted to attend New York University.[16]) She married Charles Johnson.[17]

In 1999, Johnson was a guest of the White House.[13] On June 5, 2008, Johnson and other living players from the Negro League Era were drafted by major league franchises prior to the 2008 MLB First year Draft. Johnson was selected by the Washington Nationals.[18] On October 3, 2009, Johnson spoke at Baseball Americana 2009, organized by the Library of Congress, in the company of Larry Dierker, Ernie Banks, and other figures from baseball's history.[9] In 2015, a Little League named for Johnson was formed in Washington.[1]

Mamie Johnson died on December 18, 2017 in a Washington, D.C. hospital of cardiac-related causes.[1][3] She was survived by her second husband, Emanuel Livingston; five stepdaughters; a stepson; her uncle, Leo "Bones" Belton; several siblings; two grandsons; and many step-grandchildren.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Slotnik, Daniel E. (20 December 2017). "Mamie Johnson, Trailblazer in the Negro Leagues, Dies at 82". New York Times. Retrieved 16 July 2018.
  2. ^ "Mamie "Peanut" Johnson: National Visionary". National Visionary Leadership Project. Retrieved 30 July 2018.
  3. ^ a b Schudel, Matt (21 December 2017). "Mamie 'Peanut' Johnson, hard-throwing woman in baseball's Negro leagues, dies at 82". Washington Post. Retrieved 16 July 2018.
  4. ^ Voss, Emily (12 March 2013). "Mamie "Peanut" Johnson broke barriers in Negro Leagues". National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Archived from the original on 16 September 2014. Retrieved 23 July 2018.
  5. ^ Green (2002), p. 91.
  6. ^ Green (2002), pp. 90–92.
  7. ^ Meyer, Eugene L. (3 February 1999). "'A True American Athlete'". Washington Post. Retrieved 27 August 2018.
  8. ^ Green (2002), p. 97.
  9. ^ a b "Baseball Americana: Afternoon Session". Library of Congress. Retrieved 30 July 2018.
  10. ^ Ladson, Bill. "Negro Leagues pioneer 'Peanut' Johnson dies: Two-way player was one of three women to compete, only one to pitch". MLB News. MLB Advanced Media, LP. Retrieved 23 July 2018.
  11. ^ "Mamie 'Peanut' Johnson, last of three women to play in Negro Leagues, dies at 82". ESPN Internet Ventures. Retrieved 23 July 2018.
  12. ^ a b Schwarz, Alan (12 June 2010). "Breaking Gender Barriers in the Negro Leagues". New York Times. Retrieved 23 July 2018.
  13. ^ a b c Walker, Rhiannon (20 December 2017). "Remembering Mamie 'Peanut' Johnson The first woman to pitch in the Negro Leagues dies at 82". The Undefeated. Retrieved 23 December 2017.
  14. ^ Green (2002), pp. 93–97.
  15. ^ Ford, Sam (October 1, 2012). "Mamie Johnson, baseball trailblazer, hopes for local baseball field". WJLA. Retrieved September 15, 2014.
  16. ^ Green (2002), p. 84.
  17. ^ Green (2002), p. 102.
  18. ^ Hill, Justice B. (30 May 2008). "Special Negro Leagues Draft". MLB Advanced Media, L.P. Archived from the original on 8 June 2008. Retrieved 27 August 2018.


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