Some sources say that Jackie
Mitchell was born in 1912 or
1913. Other sources say that she was born in 1914. Regardless of the
year, she was a survivor
from the start.
When Virne Beatrice
"Jackie" Mitchell was born, she only weighed three-and-a-half
pounds. But as soon as she could walk, she went with her
father to the baseball diamond. From him, she learned the
basics of game.
At that time, Jackie was
living in Memphis, Tennessee. Her next-door neighbor was a
minor league ballplayer by the name of Dazzy Vance.
Dazzy (who would later
play for the Brooklyn Dodgers) quickly recognized Jackie's talent.
In fact, he taught her
how to throw his favorite pitch. He called it the "drop pitch."
This pitch would come in at one level . . . but dropped, right before it reached the plate.
Even though Jackie was only five or six years
old, she learned how to throw this pitch. Dazzy Vance was
impressed. With foresight, he predicted that Jackie would become a great
With confidence, Jackie believed him.
When Jackie was sixteen
years old, she played for a women's team in
Chattanooga, Tennessee. When she was seventeen, she attended a special
baseball school in Atlanta, Georgia. As a result, Jackie attracted
the attention of Joe Engel, the president and owner of the
Chattanooga Lookouts. He offered her a contract to play for
the entire 1931 season.
On March 28, 1931, Jackie signed the contract. At that moment, she became an official member of the Chattanooga Lookouts,
a Class AA minor league team.