"The teennage girl who struck out Babe Ruth." This was how one fan letter was addressed for Jackie Mitchell after the news of her striking out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig spread like wild fire.
Virne Beatrice "Jackie" Mitchell was born only weighing three and a half pounds. From the time she could walk she went to the baseball diamond with her father. She was living in Memphis Tennessee, at the time. She had a minor league ball player named Dazzy Vance, who would later play for the Brooklyn Dodgers, as her neighbor. Dazzy recognized the talent that Jackie had and even taught her his favorite pitch which he called the "drop pitch." Although she was only five or six years old she learned the pitch, impressing her teacher.
Jackie went on to play for a women's team in Chatanooga, Tennessee when she was sixteen. Then, she turned seventeen and attended a baseball school in Atlanta, Georgia. While there, Jackie attracted the attention of the Chatanooga Lookouts President, Joe Engel. He then offered her a contract to play for the Lookouts for the netire 1931 season. She signed her contract on March 28, 1931.
On April 2 the New York Yankees were making their way back to New York after just finishing up spring training. As they had in previous years, they made their stop in Chatanooga to play the Lookouts. It rained on April 1st delaying the game to the next day. When the rain finally stopped the Yankees and Lookouts were set to play at 2:30 PM. Jackie was not starting pitcher, but after a few hits by the Yanks, with Babe Ruth up next to bat, the manager pulled the pitcher and brought Jackie to the mound. Her first pitch was a little high but the next three were strikes with her third dropping right over the plate.
The crowd went wild, but Jackie had Lou Gehrig, the clean-up hitter for the Yanks, up next to bat. She sturck him out on three pitches! And the rest was history from there. Jackie finished her season with the Lookouts and went on to play for a traveling baseball team for the next five years. She ultimately settled back in Chatanooga for the rest of her life, passing away in 1987.
Jackie, what a story!
Babe Ruth has been dead for more than 50 years and has not played in a Major League Baseball game since 1935. Whether our grandparents remember him playing or kids learn of ‘The Great Bambino’ by watching The Sandlot, he is respected as one of the best baseball players of all time, by people of all ages.
Arguably one of the most memorable moments, not only of Ruth’s career, but in baseball history is the ‘called shot’. On October 1, 1932, Game 3 of the World Series opened in Chicago after the Yankees won the first two games in New York. With the game tied in the fifth inning, Ruth came up to bat. After going down in the count 0-2, The Babe stepped out of the batters' box and pointed. Now, this act has been exaggerated and dramatized countless times by fans, Hollywood filmmakers and television recreations, each with a different perspective. Some say Ruth pointed back at the opposing pitcher, others believe he was pointing at the Cubs bench, but most commonly, Ruth pointed to center field implying he would send one into the stands…and, he did.
Regardless of which account is accurate, the fact that Babe Ruth challenged the Cubs’ players and their fans and then followed through on his action all during a tied World Series game, and two strikes against him is simply epic.
Babe Ruth taking batting practice before Game 3 of 1932 World Series