Mamie Johnson Little League made headlines last year after becoming the first predominantly African-American team to win the Washington D.C., Little League Championship, defeating the Capitol Hill Little League, 14-7.
While that championship win was certainly impressive, and made news across the United States, it was the impact the league had on others throughout their historic season that shined through the most as they made their way to the Mid-Atlantic Region Tournament. When it came time to help raise money to assist the league and families with the trip to Bristol, there was no question that people far and wide would come together to support this humble team. Despite beating them on the field, it was the league’s opponents from throughout the tournament season who immediately stepped up and donated to the fund. And it wasn’t just the members of the local community who stepped up to support, either, as Adam Jones, an outfielder for the Baltimore Orioles at the time, pitched in with an $8,500 donation.
While Mamie Johnson Little League’s regional tournament run was unfortunately brought to an early end after losing its first two games in Bristol, it was their inspiring journey that will be remembered by many throughout the East region for years to come.
“We came so close the year before, so it was an unreal experience to win,” said Keith Barnes, President of Mamie Johnson Little League. “With the help of dedicated coaches, volunteers, and the Little League program, we accomplished more than we ever thought we could.”
First chartered in 2015 with many of the team’s players having no baseball experience prior to the start of the league, the historic run speaks volumes on the work and dedication the league’s volunteers and players have put in. Support for the league didn’t start when they made it into the tournament, either, as the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy and Major League Baseball stood behind the league all throughout the regular season and carried the support all the way through the conclusion of the tournament.
As the spotlight on the league began to shine during the tournament, the league quickly became an inspiration to kids across the world as they made history, becoming only the second predominantly African American team to even compete in the D.C. Championship in its 31-year history, and the first team east of Anacostia River to represent D.C. in the Little League Mid-Atlantic Regional Tournament.
Mamie Johnson Little League is a part of the Little League Urban Initiative, which assists in the creation and maintenance of leagues in areas that lack the necessary resources for Little League. The team is motivated by their namesake, Mamie ‘Peanut’ Johnson, who became the first female pitcher and one of only three women to play in the African-American Baseball Leagues. Mamie Johnson attended many of the boys’ games until her death in 2017 and the team plans to continue breaking barriers in her honor in hopes of inspiring others like themselves along the way.
The goal of Mamie Johnson Little League is to “provide youth with a safe, fun and family oriented program that demonstrates the ideals of good sportsmanship, character, teamwork, courage, and respect.” Their historic tournament run of 2018 showcased the impact this league is having on the children of Washington, D.C., and will look to continue that mission in the future.
This story is featured in the 2019 Little League World Series Official Souvenir Program. To read all of the stories in this year’s program, visit the Little League Baseball World Series on August 15-25, 2019, in South Williamsport, Pa. To learn more, visit LittleLeague.org/WorldSeries and plan your visit today.