Here’s a story for the record books, except that it’s NOT in the record books.

Today in 1935, singer Kitty Burke got up from the crowd at a major league game and took an at-bat.

To date, she’s the only woman to ever bat in the majors.

According to Today I Found Out, there’s a lot of backstory to how this at-bat took place.

The Cincinnati Reds were hosting the St. Louis Cardinals at Crosley Field, which not even two months before had hosted the first ever night game in major league history.

The Cardinals/Reds game was also a night game, and, owing to the novelty of playing under the lights, there was a huge crowd on hand.

There were 26,000 people in the seats, plus another 10,000 who were crammed in wherever there was space, including in foul territory.

That meant that some of the surplus fans were as close to the action as you could get without being in the game.

They could shout stuff to the players and the players would be right there to hear it.

Nightclub singer Kitty Burke was one of them.

She was heckling Cardinals star Joe “Ducky” Medwick by saying that he couldn’t hit the ball with an ironing board, much less a bat.

Medwick shouted back, “You couldn’t hit if you were swinging an elephant!”

Burke was so mad that, later in the game, she asked Reds’ star Babe Herman to lend her his bat.

Herman said sure, and Burke, who, by the way, was in high heels and a dress, stepped into the batter’s box.

Even though the commissioner of baseball, Kenesaw Mountain Landis himself, was in the stands, everybody decided to just let this lady emerge from the crowd and take a turn at the plate.

She faced Cardinals pitcher Paul “Daffy” Dean, who threw her an underhand pitch.

Burke swung and tapped the ball back to the mound, at which point Dean threw to first and retired the surprise batter.

Burke went back into the crowd, and the Cardinals tried to say that since the Reds had given Burke the bat, she should count as an official out.

But the umpire said no, and regular play resumed.

That’s why Kitty Burke’s name isn’t in the official record books.

Though she did hit the nightclub circuit billing herself as the only woman to bat in the big leagues, and onstage she even had her own Reds uniform.

Happy SPAM Day.

That’s the canned meat product, not the emails we all get and loathe.

By the way, at SPAM’s parent company Hormel, they never call spam email “spam.”

It’s known as “unwanted email,” which is also an accurate name for the stuff, right?


How Spam Meat Has Survived Spam E-Mail (Bloomberg)

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Photo by Rob Lambert via Wikicommons, CC BY-SA 2.0