EDGEWATER, NJ — For the first time in its history, Baseball For All hosted the Maria Pepe Baseball Series, the East Coast’s first all-girls baseball tournament. Named after baseball game change Maria Pepe, the namesake event provides approximately 140 girls ages 8–18 from New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Washington D.C., and other surrounding areas the rare opportunity to play baseball with and against other girls their age.
Millburn fielded a team comprised of 10 township students led by resident and coach Samara Friedman. The team is comprised of Alyssa Benbassat, Alexandra Bunch, Ella Culligan, Charlotte Haase, Mia Jacob, Taylor O’Neill, Kira Pramanik, Alexa Turinsky, Ariana Wilson and Selena Yu
"Even though the girls lost their games today, they really had an incredible experience in being able to share their love of this sport playing on the same team together with other girls." Said Friedman
In 1972, 12-year old Maria Pepe was drafted to play on a team in Hoboken Little League. Three games in,others started to complain and demanded she be removed from the league, citing the 1951 “Tubby” Rule prohibiting girls from playing Little League baseball. Supported by her coach, James Farina, Pepe fought for the right to play. The National Organization for women filed a gender discrimination case on her behalf and won, aiding the passage of the Title IX and future federal regulations giving females the right to play sports.
“Girls can play baseball today because Maria Pepe stood up for their right to play,” said Justine Siegal, founder of Baseball For All and the first female to coach for a Major League Baseball organization.
This tournament took place just weeks after Baseball For All Nationals, the largest all-girls baseball tournament in the country that drew in 280 girls from the U.S., Canada, France, and Australia—a 50% increase in participation from 2017 that notes a significant rise in interest and participation in girls baseball.
Now, local Edgewater officials and baseball coaches alike are thrilled that girls have more opportunities to play. "Baseball is America’s greatest pastime, and having our young ladies participate in one of our country’s most popular sports makes this a very special event, and Edgewater is proud to be a part of it,” says Michael McPartland.
The President of Edgewater Baseball Mark Capra agrees. “Seeing so many young girl athletes interested in baseball and wanting to come out and play is really incredible. It’s no longer an all-boys sport only and I am proud to be a part of this. [These] girls show great courage and a strong desire to cross the lines and show us all how great they can be.”
Baseball For All is a 501(c)3 nonprofit leveling the playing field for girls across America by providing girls with opportunities to play, coach, and lead in baseball. Featured in hundreds of media outlets including Newsweek, ESPN, Sports Illustrated, MLB.com, and the New York Times, Baseball For All is the definitive resource for media looking for answers and thoughts on girls and women playing baseball.