Allyson emailed me that question, and here is what I could find out on the Internet:

Per MN History Magazine, on page 5:
"In 1939 three-fourths of the country?s black colleges approved of competitive sports for women, in contrast to one-sixth of predomi-nantly white colleges. Leaders of black recreation programs promoted concepts of womanhood that included competitiveness, selfreliance, confidence, strength, and tomboyishness. In the early twentieth century, southern baseball and softball teams organized at cotton and tobacco mills included black women?s teams, and a few women played on otherwise male Negro League teams."

On page 6, there is a picture of an African American girls softball team from 1925.

Search Wikipedia about Toni Stone, the first woman to play in the Baseball Negro Leagues, and it says that she started playing when she was 10 years old (1931) and played on a softball team until she was 15 years old.

Finally, this article, Women Sports History, says that Betty Chapman became the first professional African-American woman softball player in 1951.

Unfortunately, that's about all I could find. African Americans have been playing softball since at least 1925, but who the first player, team or league was, I don't know.

If anyone has any information on African-American softball leagues, teams, or players before 1925, I'd love to hear it!

Please post any info you have here, or email it to me.

Don McKay, Softball Editor
Softball Site
Softball Forum