(photos by Chris Capaci/Capacity Images)
Before phenoms like Mo’ne Davis, there was Maria Pepe…
Today no one bats an eyelash at a girl playing Little League—in 1972, it nearly resulted in Hoboken, “the Birthplace of Baseball,” being kicked out of the sport.
The controversy over Maria led to a case that was ultimately decided in the New Jersey Superior Court. The resulting decision effectively broke down the barriers to sports for girls, with the Little League instituting programs that eventually resulted in female phenoms like perfect-game pitcher Kathleen Brownell and the face of Little League today, Mo’ne Davis.
At the Little League opening day ceremonies on Saturday, Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer designated the city’s batting cages in honor of Maria Pepe.
“We are proud to name the Maria Pepe Batting Cages in honor of a trailblazer whose passion and bravery opened up Little League to millions of girls,” said Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer. “Baseball was born in Hoboken, and Maria made sure that everyone, both boys and girls, could play.”
“I would like to express my sincere gratitude for this dedication,” said Maria Pepe. “I am humbled and honored to receive this recognition, but also proud that over 5 million girls have participated in Little League baseball and softball programs over the past 30 years. I am privileged to know that I get to play forever through all the girls who came after me.”