'Toni Stone' now playing at Goodman Theatre, tells story of 1st woman to play professional baseball

ByHosea Sanders and Marsha Jordan WLS logo
Wednesday, February 8, 2023
'Toni Stone' now playing at Chicago's Goodman Theatre
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Toni Stone was in a "league of her own" as the first woman to play professional baseball on male teams as part of the Negro Leagues.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- ABC7 continues to celebrate Black History Month, with a home run of great reviews for "Toni Stone" at the Goodman Theatre.

She's in a "league of her own" as the first woman to play professional baseball, as part of the Negro Leagues, on male teams.

Playwright Lydia Diamond says it's her mission to share this story of courage and excellence in the game... and life.

"Toni Stone" was up to bat no matter what came at her -- from racism to sexism, this "girl of summer" was out to win. Actress Tracey N. Bonner puts Lydia Diamond's words on the scoreboard.

"It's obscene that we don't know who she is, it makes no sense, we should know her like we know Babe Ruth," Diamond said. "They need to know how hard she worked, and they need to know how dead set the world was against letting her do this thing, and how committed she was to doing it."

Diamond explained, "The Negro Leagues in general have not gotten until recently the credit that it deserves, and to think that this woman played professional baseball with men, and well, is an amazing thing and we can't let history erase that."

"History in this country does a good job of not remembering the accomplishments of Black women," Diamond said. "We have to keep pushing that, little girls need to know who Toni Stone is. She was incredible, and she'd grown up playing with boys, and then men. She was an athletic phenom, any sport that she played she was great in."

And she had to be good to hang with them, because there was just as much showmanship as athletics.

"She wasn't a side show attraction, because she was such a good player," Diamond said. "That's professional baseball, they were incredible and they were very famous."

Diamond's first play was at The Goodman, launching her national career.

"Oh, Chicago is everything," Diamond said. "I grew up all over the country and I came to Northwestern and stayed and it became my home."

The writer has a message for us.

"I think it's easy to think that when you're coming to an African American show in February about a person of color, we're coming to see a history lesson," Diamond said. "And I think it's really important that people know they're coming to a really fun night out at the theater, that's important to me."

You can see "Toni Stone" at The Goodman Theatre through February 26.