Mighty Jackie, The Strike-Out Queen

January 2004


For as long as she could remember, Jackie Mitchell’s father had told Jackie she could be good at whatever she wanted, as long as she worked at it. Jackie worked at baseball. She worked hard. And before long Jackie could outplay anyone in her neighborhood — even the boys. She had one pitch — a wicked, dropping curve ball. But no seventeen-year-old girl could pitch against Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. It was unthinkable. Then on April 2, 1931, the New York Yankees stopped in Tennessee for an exhibition game against the Chattanooga Lookouts. And on that day Jackie Mitchell made baseball history. Marissa Moss tells a true story of determination and heroism, a gem of baseball history sure to inspire ballplayers of all ages. And C. F. Payne’s vibrant, glorious illustrations make the golden age of baseball come alive.

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2007 Louisiana Young Readers’ Choice Award Nominee Grades 3-5

2005 IRA Teachers’ Choices for 2005-2006

2005 Selected as a nominee for the 2006 Bill Martin Jr. Picture Book Award, sponsored by the Kansas Reading Association

2005 Selected for the 2005-2006 Louisiana Young Readers’ Choice Award Master List

2005 Placed on the Chickadee Award Master List for 2005-2006 in the state of Maine

2005 Selected for the 2006 Washington Children’s Choice Picture Book Award Master List

2004 ALA Notable

2004 Starred Review, Publishers Weekly

2004 Starred Review, Booklist

2004 Top Ten Sports Books of the Year, Booklist 2004


From School Library Journal

Kindergarten-Grade 3–When Jackie Mitchell was a pitcher for the Chattanooga Lookouts, she made baseball history on April 2, 1931, by striking out both Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. Moss begins this brief chronicle of the young woman’s moment in the sun by setting the scene at the stadium that day, quoting the skepticism expressed by sports reporters. She then moves back to Mitchell’s childhood and describes her early interest in the game and the support and encouragement offered by her father. When the scene returns to the big day, the author indulges in some minor fictionalizing as she imagines the teen’s thoughts and feelings when she faced the baseball giants. The narrative captures the tension and excitement, and has the air of an experience remembered. Payne’s mixed-media illustrations with their judicious use of sepia increase the nostalgic feel. Pair this title with Shana Corey’s Players in Pigtails (Scholastic, 2003) or Doreen Rappaport and Lyndall Callan’s Dirt on Their Skirts (Dial, 2000) for a close look at a previously neglected piece of history.–Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Gr. 1-3. On April 2, 1931, in Tennessee, the New York Yankees played an exhibition game against the Chattanooga Lookouts. Their pitcher was a 17-year-old young woman named Jackie Mitchell, and that day she struck out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. In cadenced prose, Moss tells the story of the girl who was taught to play–and to win–by her father and Dazzy Vance, the Brooklyn Dodger. Moss sketches Jackie’s background so that when she’s on the mound, we know the talent and determination that go into each pitch. Payne has well and truly captured the tone with his wonderful pictures. Slightly exaggerated forms and vintage colors echo Thomas Hart Benton and 1930s newspaper photography. This is a powerful read-aloud. Use it alongside Deborah Hopkinson’s Girl Wonder (2003), about the real pitcher Alta Weiss, and Shana Corey’s Players in Pigtails (2003), about the fictional Katie Casey, the girl in “Take Me out to the Ball Game.” It’s another book that makes you wonder, “How come we didn’t know about her?” GraceAnne DeCandido Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved