Toni Stone was the first woman to play big-league professional baseball. She succeeded Hank Aaron playing second base for the otherwise all-male Indianapolis Clowns of the Negro American League in 1953. But while Aaron had been able to join the Braves because Jackie Robinson had broken Major League Baseball’s color barrier, MLB’s gender barrier remains in place to this day. That’s enough to make most anybody, not only baseball fans, curious about this woman’s life.
Toni Stone,a play by Lydia R. Diamond (Stick Fly, Smart People), satisfies much of that curiosity, and April Mathis does a fine job of impersonating Stone’s singular, awkward, charming character. There are funny scenes and pointed scenes — scenes that touch on the racism and sexism of the era. Yet, Toni Stoneonly occasionally sparks the kind of theatrical electricity that makes a play — not just the historical figure at its center — come to life.