Maria Pepe is best known for her role in challenging the Little League baseball rule banning girls from participation when in 1972 at the age of 11 she made the Hoboken Young Democrats team sponsored by Coach Jimmy Farina.
After playing and pitching only 3 games she was dismissed from the team because she was a girl and her uniform was taken. A sex discrimination case was filed on her behalf by her parents and the NOW (National Organization for Women) with the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights. In 1974 the case was ruled by the Superior Court of the State of New Jersey in Maria’s favor but she was would be too old to play. As a result, Little League had to allow girls to play baseball and it changed its charter to accept girls. Shortly after, Little League created a new softball program for girls. Today there has been more than 5 million girls who have participated in Little League since the ruling.
Her original baseball glove is on display at the Little League Baseball Museum in Williamsport PA and her baseball cap (the one part of the uniform she was allowed to keep and is shown above) is included in the “Diamond Dreams Exhibit” (exhibit focus is on women in baseball) Cooperstown Baseball Hall of Fame.The City of Hoboken has dedicated the Little League Batting Cages in memory of her trailblazing for girls to play in Little League.
She has been inducted into the New Jersey Sports Hall of Fame, the Hudson County New Jersey and the Hoboken Sports Hall of Fame and was honored at the Little League World Series for the 30th anniversary of the ruling in 2004. Most recently, she was selected by the NJ Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women to be the recipient of the 2017 National Girls & Women in Sports Day Honor Award.