D.C. Intersection To Be Renamed After Negro League’s First Female Pitcher

Mamie “Peanut” Johnson, the first woman to pitch in the Negro Leagues and a two-way player, will be memorialized by having a D.C. intersection named after her.

On Oct. 11, Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser revealed that the “Dave Thomas Circle” intersection will be renamed “Mamie ‘Peanut’ Johnson Plaza,” after the female baseball pitcher who played for the Indianapolis Clowns for three years, according to Fox 5. The $41 million construction project for the intersection near Florida Avenue and New York Avenue NE will end in 2024. The D.C. City Council still needs to approve the renaming.

Mayor Bowser said about the project, “Our community is ready to start a new chapter at this intersection, and we are off to a strong start by naming it after such an iconic woman.”

She continued: “Mamie ‘Peanut’ Johnson was a pioneer. Now, it is fitting that her name will represent these new spaces where residents and visitors can rest and play. I thank the Noma BID for engaging the public and going through a thoughtful process of renaming this intersection.

Between April 17 and June 25 of this year, D.C. residents voted for name recommendations for the intersection, and more than 4,300 chose to rename the intersection in honor of Johnson.

The area was notorious for being a problem spot for traffic. Maura Brophy, president and CEO of the NoMa BID, said about construction, “The redesign of the Florida Avenue/New York Avenue NE intersection will transform the current space to make it safer for pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers while also creating more than one acre of green space for the benefit of the community.”

Who was Mamie Johnson?

The trailblazing athlete pitcher played for the Indianapolis Clowns from 1953-1955. She entered the Negro Leagues as Black players began to integrate into the MLB. Ironically, Johnson had been rejected by the all-white female league because she was Black. Although she was the only woman to pitch in the Negro Leagues, there were two other women who also played baseball with the men.

Johnson proudly stated that she learned how to throw her famous curveball from the baseball legend Satchel Paige.

“Tell you the truth, I didn’t know of his greatness that much. He was just another ballplayer to me at that particular time. Later on, I found out exactly who he was,” she explained.

After 1955, Johnson hung up her mitt and became a nurse. She died from an undisclosed illness in 2017.