Diamond Ruby

Written by Joseph Wallace
Review by Wisteria Leigh

Ruby Thomas, age seven, catches a fly ball hit by Casey Stengel on April 5, 1913. As she looks at the ball she imagines herself a pitcher. Whether her unusually long arms, often a source of ridicule, contribute to her success one will never know. Catching baseball fever that day, Ruby is destined to make a mark on the world.

Later, using a tree in her backyard as a target, she discovers her athletic gift: a mighty fastball with pin point accuracy. Some years later, when her family dies during the Spanish influenza outbreak, she becomes the sole support for her two nieces. Driven by the need to care for them, she lands a job at a Coney Island sideshow throwing fastballs. The attraction, called the Birdcage, challenges anyone to beat her speed. The abusive owner schedules her for long arduous hours with little rest. The work takes a painful physical toll on her throwing arm. One day Babe Ruth and Jack Dempsey, curious visitors, show up at the Birdcage to watch Ruby, and the resulting newspaper article rockets her to fame. When given the opportunity to pitch for a minor league team, Ruby agrees. As her adoring public craves more of Ruby, others of bad intent emerge. The Ku Klux Klan threatens her, the underworld wants to own her, and the baseball commissioner wants to ban her. All Ruby wants is to play ball and shelter her family.

Wallace has written a dramatically powerful story of determination. Ruby, who is inspiringly special with an innate ability to endure immense hardships, faces difficult choices. Her character is genuine, not sainted, but human facing persistent challenges. Inspired by the life of Jackie Mitchell, Diamond Ruby is a historically uplifting unforgettable journey back to the excitement of the roaring twenties.