By Southwester Staff

Santoya Fields (Toni Stone) in Lydia R. Diamond’s Toni Stone running Sept. 3 – Oct. 3, 2021 at Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater. Courtesy of Tony Powell.

Toni Stone was the first woman to play baseball in the Negro Leagues. She was also the first woman to play in a professional men’s league in the 1950s. Now, Toni Stone is about to make another appearance on the ball field when Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater partners with Nationals Park to host a free, live simulcast of the Roundabout Theatre Company’s production of Toni Stone.

Based on Martha Ackmann’s full-length biography Curveball: The Remarkable Story of Toni Stone, Lydia R. Diamond’s play Toni Stone premiered off-Broadway in 2019. The play addresses Stone’s baseball career, as well as the challenges that she faced as a Black woman.

The screened live performance inside the Kreeger Theatre will be broadcast on the video board at Nationals Park at 7:30 p.m. on September 26, 2021.

Tickets are free and must be reserved. To RSVP, please visit this web site and click RESERVE: https://www.arenastage.org/tonistonenatspark.

The stadium will open two hours before the performance. Prior to the performance, there will be a ceremonial first pitch on the field. A variety of concessions and food will be available for purchase at the ballpark. Hundreds of Toni Stone commemorative bobblehead figures will be raffled off during the event.

“Toni Stone’s story is hidden history and needs to be told. To tell this story in front of thousands at the ballpark and to celebrate Toni and the Negro League is an honor and a thrill,” said Artistic Director Molly Smith. 

While there have been movie screenings in stadiums to celebrate the lives of ball players, this is very likely the first time any ball player has returned to the field in a play being simulcast. The opportunity for thousands of people to view the performance could help Arena Stage reach the largest audience in its history.

Toni Stone’s story of perseverance and fighting long odds resonates with current audiences while strengthening links to the past, including a local connection to Mamie Johnson, the first female pitcher to play in the Negro leagues, who died in Washington, DC. 

“Ever since our organization ceremoniously drafted Mamie Johnson in 2008, we have strived to raise up the legacy of both women in baseball and the Negro Leagues,” said Gregory McCarthy, who serves as the Senior Vice President, Community Engagement for the Washington Nationals. 

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