It is inevitable that with spring comes Spring Training, from the MLB to the Little League. As excited as you will be for your Major League team to take the field, you’re doubly excited when your daughter suits up and takes the field. It would be hard to imagine her not being able to play but there once was a time when girls couldn’t.
Baseball has been around for over a hundred and fifty years now and the Little League Baseball organization is fairly new compared to that, having been founded in 1939. As new as it was, it seemed that twenty to thirty years wasn’t enough progress from then to the 1970’s for the Little League to consider allowing girls to play the game legally. Prior to 1974 girls played on teams illegally after the Little League added an addendum to the regulation book stating girls weren’t eligible in 1951.
Sometime in 1972 a Little League team in Hoboken N.J. was told unless the girl that was playing on their team left, they would lose their charter. A 12 year old girl named Maria Pepe accepted her fate and quit so the team could carry on. However the National Organization for Women (NOW) stepped in after hearing the story.
It took two years for the legal battle to be played out, and unfortunate for Maria Pepe she was too old when the ruling was final, but in 1974 she made history of sorts. The ruling stated that girls could try out for Little League. The conversion of the Little League politics complied and committed to admitting girls into the program as well as creating a softball program for them.
It was a long road but change was instituted and today there are organizations around to continue the effort to support young women who want an opportunity to play sports, including baseball over softball if they choose. You can follow different groups like Girls Play Baseball on various related topics including Title IX and what it does to protect young women.
We need to do more than protect our daughters, we still need to support their efforts and ensure that every opportunity that is available to our sons is also available to our daughters. It is crucial at these young ages to instill equal rights for both genders. In doing so then they can change the world.