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The Voice of the Black Community


Remembering Mamie ‘Peanut’ Johnson
Published Tuesday, January 2, 2018
by Tim Lacy, Special to the Afro

Mamie “Peanut” Johnson died Dec. 19 at age 82.  I feel it necessary to weigh in on her life story a little because she was a good friend.

Peanut was born in 1935 when the atmosphere in America was not so welcoming for colored children, especially for girls. Growing up she played sandlot baseball with the boys. When the All American Women’s Baseball League was formed, she was denied entry because of her skin color. The Negro League had no such limitations on skin color or on women, who were allowed to not only play with and against their male counterparts, but often “showed-up” their team’s opponents on the diamond.  

Thus, in 1953, when the owner of the Indianapolis Clowns of the Negro League saw Peanut pitch, he signed her to play on the spot. She was 17 years old. 

Facing a batter at the plate, she was heckled with a comment that made personal history. At 5- feet-3, she was not a formidable sight, inspiring an opposing batter to ask, “How do you expect to strike anybody out when you ain’t no bigger than a peanut?” She struck him out, and the name stuck.

Peanut racked up a 33-8 record during her two years as a Clown, and was not too shabby at the plate either, posting a .273 batting average. When she left the Clowns, she attended nursing school and worked in that profession for 30 years.

Baseball has lost an icon, and I have lost a friend. Touch ’em all, Peanut.




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