Little League® International is pleased to announce the launch of the first-ever Girls Baseball Event to be held at Howard J. Lamade Stadium and complex on June 7-9, 2024, as part of the organization’s year-long Girls with Game 50 Celebration. Named after one of the program’s original Girls with Game, the “Maria Pepe Little League Baseball® Legacy Series: A Girls with Game Experience” will bring together nearly 100 female baseball players (ages 10-12) together for a weekend of fun, excitement, competition, and most of all a celebration of female baseball players across all generations.
“As our organization reflects back and celebrates 50 years of girls and women in the Little League program, it would be impossible to host an event of this nature without giving the well-deserved honor, respect, and recognition to Maria as she paved the way for generations of girls to step out onto the baseball field with a sense of pride,” said Nina Johnson-Pitt, Little League Senior Strategy Executive. “We are thankful to Maria for allowing us to honor her legacy with this event, and look forward to watching nearly 100 girls come to Williamsport for a weekend of history as we pay tribute to Maria and the other incredible Girls with Game who have helped pave the way to allow our organization to get to where it is today.”
An inspiration to hundreds of thousands of females across generations, Ms. Pepe helped spearhead a movement in the 1970s that would lead to girls having the opportunity to participte in the Little League Baseball program, changing the game forever and opening the doors to provide opportunities that had never been available before. A native of Hoboken, New Jersey, where her Little League journey first began, Ms. Pepe’s name is inscribed on the community’s batting cages, cementing her name in history as she remains committed to inspiring girls all around the world to get involved with sports.
“I am so grateful that Little League will be hosting this event for girls who just love playing baseball and that I will be able to be there to support them,” said Ms. Pepe. “Playing baseball at Lamade Stadium is surely going to be a wonderful memory for those girls who will get to participate and I appreciate the Little League leadership, coaches, umpires, and support staff who are committed to making this event a success.”
Thanks to the perseverance that Ms. Pepe showed over the past 50 years, girls from all around the world continue to shine on their community’s Little League Baseball field each year which has resulted in a total of 22 individuals who have gone on to compete at the highest stage in the Little League Baseball World Series, including in each of the last four events. Inspired by her efforts, this event is one of the many examples of Little League’s continued strategic efforts to encourage and empower the girls and women within its program, with an ultimate goal of providing equal participation opportunities for girls by 2032. The 2024 Maria Pepe Little League Baseball Legacy Series also marks an expansion of the Girls with Game Experience that is held in October, bringing Division I collegiate softball teams to Lamade Stadium for an afternoon of exhibition games and youth clinics.
“Change takes time, and over time we all arrive at a place where everyone can enjoy just doing what they love without limitations and with all the support they need to succeed and be happy,” said Ms. Pepe. “As I look back over the past 50 years and how far we have come, I am thankful for so many who came to support me. Now, I look forward to the next cycle of years with confidence that the girls will continue to show the world they can play ball – baseball, softball, all of it – and I look forward to being alongside Little League to support them.”
Held just one day after the celebration of the first-ever Little League game on June 6, 1939, the event will kick off the 65th National Little League Week on June 10-16 as communities all around the world celebrate the world’s largest youth sports organization. More information about the Maria Pepe Little League Baseball Legacy Series, including details about the format and instructions around registration for the event, will be made available in early January 2024 at LittleLeague.org.
To learn more about the entire #GWG50 Celebration, including the 50th Anniversary of the Little League Softball World Series, visit LittleLeague.org/GWG50. Those interested in learning more about Maria’s experience and the lasting impact she has had on the Little League program are also encouraged to check out the exhibit on display within the World of Little League® Museum.