‘Toni Stone’ to visit library

WINNEBAGO – What was it like to be a woman playing on men’s baseball teams in the 1940s and 1950s?

Toni Stone was an early pioneer playing professional baseball in the Negro Leagues, according to the Minnesota History Center website.

A History Player from the Center will present Toni’s story 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Muir Library in Winnebago. Admission is free.

“I don’t know much about her, that’s one of the reasons I’m having her [visit],” said Librarian Heidi Schutt.

Toni Stone (1921-1996) was a St. Paul native who broke many barriers by playing for the first time on men’s teams all across the nation, according to the website.

Although she faced a great deal of discrimination, she rose among the ranks of farm town barnstorming teams to become the first woman to play professional baseball in the Negro Leagues. Her drive, perseverance and determination transformed her from a Minnesota “tomboy” to the “female Jackie Robinson” of the Negro Leagues,” according to the website.

Toni played 50 games for the Indianapolis Clowns, manning second base, the position Hank Aaron played for the team one year earlier, according to Wikipedia.com online.

“I’ve always been a fan of baseball. I think bringing history into baseball just makes it more exciting for kids, for all ages,” Schutt said.

The program will last about one hour.

“The History Players bring lots of props and artifacts,” Schutt said. “Oftentimes, they’ll bring kids up [to the front to help]. It’s an interactive program for the kids.”

The History Players stay for a half-hour after the presentation to talk to people and answer questions in character.

The Friends of the Library is helping host the event, which is made possible through a grant from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

For more information on the Muir Library, visit winnebago.tdslib.org, or the History Center at visit www.minnesotahistorycenter.org online