Tag Archives: Babe Ruth

Jackie Mitchell strikes out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig

Her story has been told for over 80 years but not everyone knows the whole story. There are bits and pieces that have been passed down and meshed into the story you think you know.


He curves were too much for them is based on the true story of Jackie Mitchell, the 18 year-old woman that signed a professional baseball contract in 1931. Her first and only appearance on the mound for the Chattanooga Lookouts was against the feared New York Yankees. On April 2nd, 1931 (the game was scheduled for April Fools Day) Jackie and the Lookouts went to battle again the Yankees in Engel Stadium. Jackie went in during the first inning. The first batter she faced was the Mighty Babe Ruth.

Jackie went on to not only strike out Babe Ruth but also Lou Gehrig. A story quickly spread that baseball commissioner Kennesaw Mountain Landis got word about this unbelievable feat and voided Jackie’s contract immediately and banned all women from organized baseball.  The truth is, it simply did not happen.

Landis knew all about Jackie before April 2nd and women weren’t banned from baseball until many years later.

April 2nd, 1931 wasn’t the end of Jackie’s story, nor was it the beginning. What did happen that led up to this extraordinary and historic baseball event? Was it all a gimmick orchestrated by Lookouts president and the “P.T. Barnum of the Bush Leagues” Joe Engel?

Read Her curves were too much for them to find out more about Jackie and her story.

Available now in select stores and on Amazon.com

A 1925 game-used bat that traveled from the hardware store to the Southern Association

I am probably one of the largest collectors of  all things vintage Chattanooga Lookouts. There may be others out there as big but I know one great collector that owned a collection of all things Chattanooga baseball that would rival my small personal museum.

While I was in Chattanooga for the week of Thanksgiving, this collector was holding a sale of his collection. I knew of a few pieces he had that I wanted and I contacted him for some pre-sale negotiations.

One of the items I purchased was previously unknown to me.  It was a side-written bat. I find side-written bats particularly interesting, especially if they are related to former Lookouts players.


A side-written bat is simply a bat that was sent to Hillerich & Bradsby (aka Louisville Slugger) to be used as the model for the making of bats. When the bats were received, they would be written on with a black grease pencil with the players name and date received. Sometimes the team would be noted as well. These bats were used on the lathe to make an identical copy and the original would be stored in the warehouse for future orders by that player.

The story of this bat begins in the small north Georgia town of Chickamauga, GA and with a player named Clarence “Cap” Crossley.

Only 60 years before this bat was turned, Chickamauga was the site of one of the largest battles of the American Civil War, or as we call it in the South, the war between the states, as there was nothing civil about it. The town hasn’t changed much since the early 20th century and I can imagine the building that was the birthplace of this bat is still standing.

This bat must have been a special bat to Clarence. It isn’t your typical Louisville Slugger bat. In fact it isn’t a Lousiville Slugger at all. Upon first glance, it appears to be a vintage pre-war bat that was taken care of. Its clean and without major damage. It has a rich dark patina that you hope  to find on every vintage game-used bat. It features a “Hornsby” style knob that isn’t seen much in baseball today. I believe they also call this type of flared knob a “Clemente” style knob, too.

While it may look like a typical bat from this era, It was specially made for a hardware store under the name of “R. Stogsdill of Chickamauga GA” The bat brand is in a similar oval style to Louisville Slugger. It carries a “HY POWER TRADE MARK” designation.


Adding to the evidence of it being a game-used bat is the batboy repair. It is a clean and professional repair to a crack in the handle, complete with nails.



By June of 1925, the bat must have seen enough action and Clarence thought it was time to get himself his own model bat from Hillerich & Bradsby. Above the bat brand is the remnants of a mailing label. The bat was simply labeled with address and postage and dropped in the mail.

Once the bat reached the Hillerich & Bradsby factory, it was side written with Clarence’s name and a date of June 1925 and placed in the warehouse to wait for Crossley to order bats. It is assumed that this was his bat during the 1924 and ’25 seasons with the Lookouts. The fact that it was turned only a few miles south of Chattanooga backs this thought.


Not much is remembered about the career Minor Leaguer Clarence Crossley other than his baseball record. We know he was born in 1902 and played in the bush leagues for 18 seasons. After his playing days he was a manager and even spent a few years later in life as a scout for the Reds and the White Sox.

Side-written bats can provide not only important reference information when dealing with valuable bats such as those used by Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb but also determine value of a bat that could have historical significance. A bat that belonged to a Black Sox member that is side-written after 1920 would be worth less than one with a date before their banishment from baseball. Sometimes the date can determine the value.

Side-written bats can also add to the story.

Every bat tells a story. From ball marks and cleat marks to nails and cracks, every bat is a part of baseball history. And so many stories are lost to the ages. Even players can be largely forgotten. Sometimes all we have today is what they left behind in the vaults of Hillerich & Bradsby.



Counterfeit Alert – 1921 W551 Babe Ruth

W-cards, or more commonly called “Strip cards” used to be thought of as lesser cards in the world of collecting.  Why buy a crudely drawn image of Babe Ruth when you can purchase beautiful cards like Goudeys.

They were cheaper and move available in comparison to more mainstream cards but like everything else, the price of cards rose and collectors began re-examining strip cards.  Some of the top tier grading companies began grading them. Now strip cards are popular enough to be counterfeited.

Because of the very cheap nature of the production of these cards, detecting a fake may not be as obvious as you may think. Strip cards were printed on very cheap stock and very poor quality. Many of these cards were printed on strips and meant to be torn off the strip and given to a kid every time they purchased a piece of penny candy.

The card in the post today is a 1921 W551 card of Babe Ruth.


At first glance, this card looks good. Even the wear does not look bad. The creasing and the rounding of the corners does not look forced, or artificial.

Under a loupe, the printing gives this fake away. The printing is not correct and appears almost fuzzy. When the card is held at an angle, reflecting the light of a strong light source, you can see the ink appears shiny.


This one is a tough fake to spot. It took a second look under the loupe. Most fake strip cards are not this good, but many do take a second look. Strip cards are a great card to do the “smell test.” Ever smelled a pre-war card? Especially a strip card? The cheap pulp stock contains a high level of acid causing decomposition. This causes the stock to have a very distinct smell. It would be difficult to fake the smell and I’m not aware of it being possible. At least not yet.




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Jackie Mitchell, the girl that struck out Babe Ruth & Lou Gehrig


She was just 18 when she faced the Sultan of Swat and The Iron Horse in the spring of 1931.

In March of 1931 Jackie Mitchell signed a contract to pitch for the Chattanooga Lookouts, the top farm team of the Washington Senators. Her first task on the mound was to face the mighty New York Yankees on April 1st, 1931.


As if the heavens were trying to help her show the world this was no stunt, the April Fools day game was rained out and postponed until the next day.

Would this 18 year old girl have what it takes to face down two of the biggest superstars in baseball history? Was this all a well planned stunt by none other than the “P.T. Barnum of the Bush Leagues” and Lookouts president Joe Engel?

Would her curves be too much for them?


Her Curves were too much for them

A novella by Andy Broome. Coming soon summer 2014