Indianapolis sports legend Mamie Johnson dies at age 82

Posted at 2:23 PM, Dec 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-20 15:49:33-05

INDIANAPOLIS -- Mamie "Peanut" Johnson, one of just three women to play in baseball's Negro Leagues and an Indianapolis sports legend, died Tuesday at the age of 82. 

Johnson, a South Carolina native, was told she couldn't play in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League because she was black. She instead joined the Indianapolis Clowns, part of the Negro Leagues. 

She played with the Clowns for three seasons between 1953-55. Johnson posted a 33-8 record as a pitcher and hit for a .270 batting average. 

She played for the Clowns at the same time as Hank Aaron, before Aaron joined Major League Baseball. 

“Hank was banging the ball even then,” Johnson told The State in 1999. “I wasn’t around when Jackie Robinson went up, but the fellas were always real proud of him. And when Hank went up, we all rooted for him.”

When playing, she was mocked by Hank Bayliss, a third baseman for the Kansas City Monarchs. At 5-foot-3, 115-pounds, Bayliss said she was "no bigger than a peanut."

Johnson struck him out.

In 2008, Johnson became the only woman ever drafted by a major league baseball team when the Washington Nationals picked her in a ceremonial Negro League Draft. 

Next year, Johnson will be memorialize in a bronze statue at the Children's Museum of Indianapolis' Sports Legends Experience. 

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