YUBA CITY (CBS13) — A woman who was banned from Little League baseball in the 1950s because she was a girl will be throwing out the first pitch at the Little League World Series.
Today’s Little League fields are open to both boys and girls, but in 1950, only 12-year-old boys suited up for the Saturday games. That is, until Kay Johnston snuck onto her neighborhood team and changed baseball forever.
“I loved baseball because my dad did,” she said. “I loved any sport but baseball was my favorite.”
When she got a chance to try out for the King Dairies as a 12-year-old, she jumped at the opportunity. She was willing to do anything to pass as a boy in order to make the team.
“My mom cut my hair off. Whatever I had left I tucked into one of my brother’s baseball caps,” she said.
With the braids gone, she needed a new name. Kathryn wouldn’t work.
“I said to my mom, ‘What am I going to call myself? Kay doesn’t sound like a boy’s name.’ She said, ‘You are always reading little comics books, why don’t you just take the name Tubby?’”
Tubby made the team and became one of the best players on the field. She batted third in the lineup and played first base for their Dairies.
“I loved the game. I wasn’t going out to be a beacon for girls rights. I was going out because I loved the game,” she said.
But little league officials were determined to bench Tubby Johnston for good.
“No girls under any circumstances will ever play little league baseball. When my dad came home he said, ‘Now look what you’ve done. Because of you girls can’t play.’”
The rule would stand for two decades before being overturned by the courts.
Now 64 years later, Kay is going back to the league that squashed her baseball dream. She’ll be throwing out the first pitch on Aug. 18 in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
“I’m more than excited. It’s unbelievable I get a chance to throw out that first pitch,” she said.
Kay is practicing for that first pitch in the backyard of her Yuba City home. She says she’s determined to show them she still has it after all these years.