SC native, baseball barrier breaker Mamie 'Peanut' Johnson dead at 82

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Ridgeway native and groundbreaking baseball player Mamie 'Peanut' Johnson passed away on Tuesday.

Johnson was 82 years old.

Johnson was the first female pitcher - and one of three women - to break gender lines and play professional baseball for the Negro Leagues. They played there because they not allowed to play in professional women's leagues at the time because of their race.

The right-handed pitcher has a 33-8 record for the Indianapolis Clowns. She played with them from 1953 to 1955.

Her nickname, "Peanut," was due to her petite frame - 5'4" and 120 pounds. Legend has it that opposing batter Hank Baylis yelled at her: "What makes you think you can strike a batter out? Why you aren't any larger than a peanut!"

She silenced him as she struck him out. The nickname stuck.

Johnson proudly spoke of her achievements in a 2010 New York Times article.

"I was already the only woman to be a major league pitcher," Johnson told the Times. "No one else was - white, black, blue or green. No one. And I have."

Her career was also chronicled in the biography "A Strong Right Arm."

In 2008, Major League Baseball teams used the draft to honor members of the Negro League - Johnson was selected by the Washington Nationals.

Mamie Johnson was also a big fan of Little League phenom Mo'ne Davis during the teen's run in the 2014 Little League World Series.

In 2010, June 7 was also declared Mamie Johnson Day in Ridgeway. A street was also named after her.

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