Wonder Girl Strikes out Ruth and Gehrig
Lou Gehrig, Jackie Mitchell, Joe Engel and Babe Ruth, April 2, 1931.
Joe Engel, a former Major League pitcher, was the owner and the President of the minor-league Class AA Chattanooga Lookouts; he was also a wildly creative promoter and a highly regarded scout, which is how Jackie Mitchell, a newly signed, 17-year-old wonder girl pitcher with a nasty curveball, came to strike out two of the game's greatest players.
Following spring training, the New York Yankees arrived in Chattanooga for a scheduled exhibition game, drawing a crowd of four thousand. Of all people, the first batter the young rookie faced was none other than Babe Ruth. Mitchell got the Babe to whiff on two pitches, and he promptly tossed his bat aside after a called third strike. Gehrig, up next, swung and missed on all three pitches. Mitchell received a roaring ovation, but after walking Tony Lazzeri, the third batter, she was pulled from the game.
Her minor-league career ended just days later when the evidently embarrassed commissioner of baseball, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, declared her contract invalid and barred women from the farm team system. However, Mitchell continued to pitch with barnstorming teams, including the House of David, until retiring in 1937.