The early star at this year’s Little League World Series is Mo’ne Davis, the female pitcher who has starred on the mound in leading her team from south Philadelphia through Regionals into the final bracket.
While she has gotten plenty of attention on social media from some of the biggest names in sports — Mike Trout and Russell Wilson, to name just a few — her biggest fan may be none other than Mamie "Peanut" Johnson.
Johnson, 78, was the first female pitcher in the history of the Negro Leagues and said Friday upon attending Davis’ LLWS opener in Willliamsport, "It’s the greatest gift in God’s green earth to be here," as she witnessed David fire a two-hit shutout in her team 4-0 win over a squad from Nashville.
Johnson pitched three seasons for the Indianapolis Clowns from 1953-55, even teaming for a time with Henry Aaron — when he was a young shortstop prospect and not baseball’s home-run king. Johnson was the first of three women to play in the Negro League, even sporting an impressive 33-8 career record on the mound and a .273 batting average.
Johnson, who at 5-foot-3 was dubbed "Peanut" from her playing days, says she is drawn to just how similar Davis seems to the Negro League pioneer. Johnson certainly dealt with plenty of obstacles growing up and playing baseball in pre-Civil Rights America, as she played on despite dealing with racial slurs from fans and never stayed in a "white" hotel.
The two star pitchers actually met a few years ago when Davis’ club team barnstormed in similar fashion to Johnson’s days, even in a 1947-style bus to pay homage to Jackie Robinson. Davis admitted afterward she had no idea Johnson would be in attendance Friday, saying "It’s amazing, I don’t know how else to describe it."
Johnson and Davis finally met up a couple hours after the game, sharing hugs and smiles. "You have no idea how much this means to me," Johnson said.