Mamie Johnson was the only woman to pitch in the Negro Leagues, and the longtime D.C. resident recently shared her story with National Journal. She also gave some thoughts on Bryce Harper, Barack Obama and the designated hitter.
Johnson, on modern baseball players: "Baseball is not baseball now. It's a millionaire thing now, you know. To me, you're playing like a 12-year-old. You missed the ball, and you stand up and look at it? What is this?… How are you applying yourself to the job that you are supposed to be doing? That's not so good, you know. So this is how I judge the ballplaying."
On the Nationals' Bryce Harper, who was recently benched for failing to run out a ground ball: "I used to love my little fella over there, Harper, but he made me very angry with him the other day. He made me angry when he didn't hustle to first base. That threw me off. That showed me that you are not applying yourself to what you're supposed to be doing. He should have been benched for the next month. If he'd been playing for me, he'd have been benched for the next month.… Who does that in a game that you're trying to win?"
On the designated hitter: "I don't know where they get this thing—what you call it, designated hitter? I don't even know where that comes from. What is this? I had a .257 batting average [as a pitcher]. If you can bat, you can bat. If you can't, you can't. A whole lot of them stand up there with the bat on their shoulder and don't even swing it. Not only the pitchers, a whole lot of the others. They would be sitting on the bench if they were playing ball when I was playing. They would be on the bench. What's wrong with your bat? Why can't you swing it? You might accidentally hit it. Really."
On President Obama's attempts to throw out the ceremonial first pitch before baseball games: (Laughs) "He's a basketball player, not a baseball player. He's all right though."