Newspaper article

Barrier-Breaking Athlete Toni Stone Got Her Start in Baseball in St. Paul

Newspaper article

Barrier-Breaking Athlete Toni Stone Got Her Start in Baseball in St. Paul

Article excerpt

Marcenia Lyle (Toni "Tomboy") Stone broke both gender and racial barriers by becoming the first female professional baseball player in the Negro Major League. During her career, she played with a variety of men's teams before making history when she joined the Indianapolis Clowns, a Negro Major League Team.

Toni Stone was born Marcenia Lyle Stone on July 17, 1921, in Bluefield, West Virginia. When she was ten years old, her family moved to St. Paul. Her parents, Boykin and Willa Maynard Stone, raised Marcenia in St. Paul's Rondo neighborhood.

Stone grew up playing baseball with the neighborhood boys, despite her parents' objections, and earned the nickname "Tomboy." Encouraged by her priest, she was the first girl to hold a spot on the St. Peter Claver Catholic Church boys' baseball team in the Catholic boys' league.

Stone got her first real break when she joined the Twin City Colored Giants "barnstorming" team at age sixteen. She travelled around the Midwest and Canada with the team until she moved to California following the onset of World War II to be near her sister. She worked odd jobs and settled into the Fillmore neighborhood of San Francisco--sometimes called "the Harlem of the West." While living there, Stone adopted a new professional name, "Toni Stone." She met her future husband, Aurelious Pescia Alberga, at a nightclub, and the couple was married in 1950.

At Alberga's suggestion, Stone applied to play American Legion baseball. To get around the Legion's age restriction, which required players to be no older than seventeen, she shaved ten years off her actual age and maintained the ruse throughout her career. She played a short stint with the San Francisco Sea Lions of the West Coast Negro League before joining the New Orleans Creoles, a Negro Minor League team, in 1949.

Toni Stone made sports history in 1953 when she signed a seasonal contract with the Indianapolis Clowns in the Negro American League. She was hired to fill the second-base position vacated by Hank Aaron when he joined the Milwaukee Braves.

As one of the first women to play in the Negro Major League, Stone endured substantial harassment from opponents, critics, and fellow teammates. …

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