Ruby’s pitches were straight and true, but girls weren’t allowed to play baseball in 1913. She kept practicing in secret, through the end of World War I and the Spanish influenza epidemic that ravaged her neighborhood and wiped out most of her family.
It was her pitching skills that kept her orphaned nieces alive into the 1920s, first to put squirrels into their soup pot, then as Ruby became a speed pitcher for a Coney Island sideshow. Amanda kept the speed-sensing machine working, Allie posted the pitch speed, and “Diamond Ruby” hurled pitch after pitch, seven days a week, equaling the velocity of most major league pitchers. Her extra-long arms were good for something at least.
Her amazing pitching performances drew celebrities, like Babe Ruth and Jack Dempsey, as well as the attention of women’s rights activists, organized crime bosses, and a minor league baseball team that needed publicity to stay alive, but needed a great pitcher even more.
Could Ruby really earn enough money by pitching to keep her small family intact? Can she keep her new friends from harm during the raucous days of Prohibition? Can she keep on pitching accurately despite threats, violence, and blatant prejudice?
This intriguing tale of survival, grit, and amazing athletic skill, set amid the glitter and glare of the Big Apple’s speakeasies and rum-runners, is inspired by a real woman pitcher of the era. Play ball, Ruby!
Recommended by: Katy Manck, Librarian-at-Large (retired academic/corporate/school librarian), Gilmer, Texas, USA