Current Installation

Gendering Little League

April 29, 2022 - September 4, 2022

“Boys only” was a formal rule in Little League baseball starting in 1951. Two decades later, 12-year-old Maria Pepe challenged the status quo.

Location

4th floor corridor

“Boys only” was a formal rule in Little League baseball starting in 1951. Two decades later, 12-year-old Maria Pepe challenged the status quo. Pepe pitched three games for the Young Democrats of Hoboken, New Jersey in 1972. When Little League headquarters found out, it threatened to revoke the entire city’s charter if Pepe continued to play. The team manager removed her from the roster. With the support of Pepe and her family, the National Organization for Women (NOW) sued on her behalf—and won. Little League revised its charter in 1974 to include girls. Pepe, then 14, was too old to play. But her resolve had opened the door for approximately 100,000 girls who now take the field every year. On display in the Joyce B. Cowin niche is Maria Pepe's practice shirt paired with a photograph of her in a Young Democrats hat and jersey. The case also explores the stories of girls who played Little League baseball before and after Pepe, including Kathryn Johnston, the first known girl to play an entire season of Little League before the organization banned girls in 1951, and Jenny Fulle, the first girl to play Little League after the game opened to girls.

Exhibitions at New-York Historical are made possible by Dr. Agnes Hsu-Tang and Oscar Tang, the Saunders Trust for American History, the Evelyn & Seymour Neuman Fund, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature. WNET is the media sponsor.

  • NYC Cultural Affairs
  • NY Council on the Arts

Media sponsor:

  • WNET New York Public Media