Jackie Mitchell who faced the great Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig in the 1930s - and struck them out!
Mitchell's brief career struck a chord with author Wallace, who took the idea of a phenomenal female pitcher into the Roaring 20s of baseball-mad New York City.
Ruby faces incredible odds to keep her family together following the Spanish Influenza epidemic which killed more people than World War I. She encounters good guys like Babe Ruth and Jack Dempsey, bad ones with the KKK and organized crime, as well as women's rights activists and folks on both sides of the Prohibition issue.
A great story and a great baseball story (and a happy birthday today to MB, Braves-loving gal and baseball fan extraordinaire!).
Book info: Diamond Ruby / Joseph Wallace. Touchstone, 2011. [author's website] [publisher site] [book trailers one and two]
Recommendation: Ruby’s pitches were straight and true, but girls weren’t allowed to play baseball in 1913. She kept practicing in secret, through the end of World War I and the Spanish influenza epidemic that ravaged her neighborhood and wiped out most of her family.
It was her pitching skills that kept her orphaned nieces alive into the 1920s, first to put squirrels into their soup pot, then as Ruby became a speed pitcher for a Coney Island sideshow. Amanda kept the speed-sensing machine working, Allie posted the pitch speed, and “Diamond Ruby” hurled pitch after pitch, seven days a week, equaling the velocity of most major league pitchers. Her extra-long arms were good for something at least.
Her amazing pitching performances drew celebrities, like Babe Ruth and Jack Dempsey, as well as the attention of women’s rights activists, organized crime bosses, and a minor league baseball team that needed publicity to stay alive, but needed a great pitcher even more.
Could Ruby really earn enough money by pitching to keep her small family intact? Can she keep her new friends from harm during the raucous days of Prohibition? Can she keep on pitching accurately despite threats, violence, and blatant prejudice?
This intriguing tale of survival, grit, and amazing athletic skill, set amid the glitter and glare of the Big Apple’s speakeasies and rum-runners, is inspired by a real woman pitcher of the era. Play ball, Ruby! (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)