TONI STONE

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Toni Stone was born Marcenia Stone in 1921 in Bluefield, W.Va. Her family relocated to St. Paul, Minn., to a burgeoning African-American neighborhood called Rondo. They were part of the Great Migration, the period between 1910 and 1970 when millions of African Americans left the South for the North, Midwest and West.

From the start, Marcenia was a tremendous athlete. She picked up the nickname "Tomboy" and excelled at baseball, having no choice but to play on boys' teams. She talked her way into tryouts for a boys' baseball camp and ignored her parents' pleas not to pursue the sport. It wasn't ladylike, they worried; nor would it put her on the path to higher education that they believed African Americans in the Jim Crow era needed.

But Marcenia wouldn't be swayed. The All-American Girls Professional Baseball League wasn't an option because it was segregated, so in 1937 she joined the all-male, Twin City Colored Giants.

During World War II she moved to San Francisco's Fillmore District, known as the Harlem of the West. She worked odd jobs, but the baseball diamond beckoned. After the war,

she shaved 10 years off her age and signed on to the American Legion Junior League team, previously open to high-school-age boys only.

The then-26-year-old Marcenia Stone (pretending to be 16) joined the roster of the San Francisco Sea Lions. It was here that she adopted the name "Toni” because it was reminiscent of her childhood nickname. Between 1949 and 1953, she played for several semiprofessional and profession teams. The Indianapolis Clowns were one of the Negro Leagues' premier teams, equal parts athleticism and entertainment. When the Clowns' manager Syd Pollack hired Stone to replace Hank Aaron, he thought he was getting a novelty act, but what he got instead was an athlete of unbridled talent, skill and love of the game. She was there to play baseball, not to wear shorts or skirts, as the white women in the segregated league did. She wore long pants like the men did, and she played like they did.

Stone was often vilified by her fellow players for being a woman playing a man's game. "They'd tell me to go home and fix my husband some biscuits," she said in a 1991 San Francisco Chronicle interview.

She played for the Clowns for the 1953 season, her play consistently strong, albeit infrequent. In 1954 she left professional baseball. 

Toni was rediscovered and inducted into the Women's Sports Foundation International Sports Hall of Fame in 1985. She died in Alameda, Calif., in 1996.

Toni Stone had always dreamed of playing in the majors. That dream as yet remains unrealized for any woman, of any race. So clearly, Toni Stone, was a Boss Ass Bitch. 

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