Penny Ann Early was an American athlete who achieved two notable firsts: she was the first female jockey, and the first woman to play in a professional basketball league.
Early became the first licensed female jockey in the United States in 1968. Male jockeys unanimously refused to ride in the first few races in which she was slated to compete at the Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky.
In the midst of this controversy the Kentucky Colonels of the American Basketball Association signed Early to a contract to play basketball for the team. Early had not played basketball at any level. Management, including Colonels owners Joseph and Mamie Gregory, ordered coach Gene Rhodes to play Early in a game. Rhodes was not amused and protested to management.
Penny's moment came on Wednesday, November 27, 1968, against the Los Angeles Stars. Wearing a miniskirt and a turtleneck sweater with a number 3 on the back, Early warmed up with the players and sat on the bench with the team.
Early in the game, during a timeout, Rhodes reluctantly sent Early to the scorer's table, where she checked into the game.