Virne Beatrice "Jackie" Mitchell (1913-1987) was a neighbor of future major league pitcher Dazzy Vance when she was a child. Vance taught her how to pitch, teaching her his favorite "drop pitch" when she was five or six years old. He was impressed and predicted that some day she would become a great ballplayer.
At the age of sixteen, she was playing for a women's team in Chattanooga, Tennessee and drew the attention of Joe Engle, the president and owner of the Chattanooga Lookouts. The Lookouts were a Class AA Minor League team and tendered Jackie a contract for the entire 1931 season. Meanwhile, the New York Yankees had finished spring training in Florida, and as in previous years, stopped in Chattanooga to play the Lookouts. On the afternoon of Thursday, April 2, the game was played. Jackie was not the starting pitcher, but by the third batter into the game (Babe Ruth), Jackie was called in to relieve the starter. Jackie's first pitch sailed high for a ball, but the next three were strikes; with the final pitch dropping in for a called third strike. The next batter was Lou Gehrig, and she proceeded to strike him out on three straight pitches.
The news spread across the country, even reaching the ears of Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis. Landis called for Jackie's Lookouts contract to be cancelled because baseball was 'too strenuous" for women. She didn't stop playing ball; instead, she started playing for another minor league team (keeping her name off the roster). She also had spent the next five years playing for a traveling semi-pro team (House of David). At the age of 23, she returned to Chattanooga to work for her father, an eye doctor; living the rest of her life there until she died in 1987.
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