Indianapolis Clowns 1953 Vintage Ballcap
- Made in the USA
- Royal blue and red wool broadcloth
- Red on vintage white "C" on front
- Standard visor with green satin under visor
- Velcro Adjuster
- Vintage hair cloth backed buckram crown
- Satin taping with cotton sweatband
- Item #: IND53C
League: Negro National League
History: When Stone made her debut for the Clowns in 1953, the club listed in her in the program as a 22-year-old. However, Stone was actually a 32-year-old professional ball player with a long history in the game. Toni began her career at 10 years old, playing on a boys baseball team. As a teen she played on a boys team coached by Gabby Street, who notoriously worked to keep black players off of the St Paul Saints, the minor league baseball team he managed. Street was an active member of the KKK. This boys team practiced at a park by Toni's house. She would watch them play and listen to them learn. Toni approached Gabby Street and asked to play. He said “No. Go away." Toni went around the corner then came back and asked to play again. "No! Go away.” She went around the corner and came back 10 min later. This went on and on until Street finally relented, telling Toni “Get on the field and show those boys up.” He recounted later “I just couldn't get rid of her until I gave her a chance.” Toni won her place on the team.
After moving to San Francisco with her family in the 1940s, she joined a top men’s American Legion club. Her play with the American Legion team led to her first professional contract with the San Francisco Sea Lions, a local black ballclub. In 1949, she went to New Orleans to play briefly for the New Orleans Black Pelicans before jumping to the New Orleans Creoles. When signed to the Clowns in 1953, Stone was a toughened veteran of semi-pro baseball. Toni took her playing career as serious as anyone. She was adamant that she play on mens teams using mens rules. She flatly refused to play in a skirt or shorts, a popular gimmick at the time, and proudly showed off the scars she received from male opponents sliding into her at second base with their spikes up. The spikes high act was encouraged by some of her own teammates who would though the ball to 2nd in a way that encouraged the spiking. At one point she was sexually harassed by a teammate, and when she complained to administration they told her to take care of it herself. So she did. With a baseball bat. Traveling the circuit with her male teammates, Toni was not allowed to stay in the same hotels as them. Popular belief at the time was that she was a prostitute traveling with the team. In a twist of irony, she did stay in brothels in the southern towns the teams traveled through. There, Toni found great empathy from the residents and formed lifelong friendships. They would launder her uniforms, cook her meals and follow her in the sports pages to keep up with her career. By the time she finished her two-year stint in the Negro Leagues, with both the Clowns and the famed Kansas City Monarchs, she had amassed a respectable .243 batting average and even claimed a hit off the legendary Satchel Paige.