Maria Pepe was honored during Hoboken’s opening day by having the batting cages named in her honor, recognized for being the first female in little league baseball.
Pepe broke the mold and paved the way for little girls to enter little league baseball, and her story began in Hoboken.
“So I think as we all know Hoboken is famous for being the birthplace of baseball, but I think it also should be known as the birth place of Maria Pepe,” Mayor Dawn Zimmer said at the beginning of the ceremony.
“Not everyone was ready for girls to play baseball, parents were mad, little league threatened to revoke Hoboken’s charter, there was tremendous pressure for Maria to stop playing on the team.”
Zimmer later added “for 12-year-old Maria, I could imagine how difficult and painful it must have been to deal with the pressure to be in the national spotlight and be told you are ruining little league for boys and the whole town.”
According to Zimmer, Pepe dropped out from little league to ensure her teammates would be able to continue to play the game they all loved so passionately.
However, With the help of the National Organization for Women, Maria Pepe’s case was heard throughout the nation and eventually opened the doors for little girls to play the game.
Taking the podium, Maria Pepe gave a few words to show her tremendous appreciation for the support she felt as a child and give recognition to the impact her fight gave to the world of little league.
“I must say that I am humbled, honored, and at the same time excited to be in your midst to receive this dedication. Ladies and gentlemen if this dedication stands for anything it stands for the united spirit in all of us, even though it has my name on it,” she exclaimed.
Pepe continued “I achieve because we achieve and we achieve because we meet the challenges together.”
Before the unveiling of the new batting cages that memorialize Pepe, she continued in thanking those that supported her as a child such as her family, friends, and Coach James Farina – now the City Clerk in Hoboken- who gave her the chance to play even though many were against it.