ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) - The St. Paul Saints dedicated Sunday’s game to “Women in Baseball,” including a player who is an important piece of the great American pastime’s past.
The team honored the late Toni Stone with a pregame ceremony. Stone grew up in St. Paul’s Rondo neighborhood and grew into the role of a baseball icon as the first woman to play in a professional men’s league in 1953.
Stone’s niece and grandniece attended the occasion at CHS Field, a true tribute to a trailblazer.
“It’s glorious, I wish my aunt was here to be part of this,” Stone’s niece Maria Bartlow said.
Ramsey County also declared June 10 as “Toni Stone Day” at the ceremony, which brought back memories of many stories for Stone’s family. Some tales were joyful, but many were about the struggles she faced on her journey to making history.
“The teams just wanted to use her basically as a come-on for crowds to see a woman playing baseball,” Bartlow said. “That’s not what she wanted. She wanted to be right up there with the guys in the league.”
“In the end, she got to do what she wanted to do,” Stone’s great-niece Monica Franks said. “She just kept trudging along.”
Stone’s story is chiseled in baseball history, and now her image is too--the Saints created a special Toni Stone bobblehead for this occasion.
An actual figure for a historical figure whose legacy is also a lesson, one that goes beyond the borders of baseball.
“It’s an inspiration,” Bartlow said. “It’s an inspiration to do what you want and do it well ... As a woman, you should really stand up for your rights and do everything to the best of your ability.”
Stone is a member of the Women’s Sports Hall of Fame and she also has a display in Cooperstown at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.