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Women, Baseball and the Law

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The Library of Congress’s Baseball Americana exhibit gives me something new to think about each time I visit.

Most intriguing to me (well, right up there with any mentions of Pittsburgh, the Washington Nationals, Bob Dylan, and my friend Patti’s portrait) are the numerous times women are depicted in the exhibit.

Two things stand out from a legal perspective.

From the Exhibition: Bettye Lane, photographer. Little League Tryouts for Females, New Jersey. 1974. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (034.00.00)

Girls in Little League

Little League began in the 1930s, but initially it was a boys-only sport.

In fact, from 1950 until 1974, Little League’s rules expressly forbade girls from participating after player Tubby Johnston was discovered to be a girl.

It wasn’t until 1972, when a young girl in New Jersey, Maria Pepe, was kicked off her local team, that the issue made its way through the courts. The National Organization for Women challenged the Little League’s rules on Maria’s behalf. Eventually, girls were allowed into Little League in 1974 when the New Jersey Supreme Court upheld a Superior Court decision allowing girls to play.


From the Exhibition: Albert Von Tilzer (1878–1956) and Jack Norworth (1879–1959). “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” New York: New York Music Co., 1908. Music Division, Library of Congress (036.00.00)

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

Most people don’t realize that only the chorus of this baseball classic is sung during the 7th inning stretch.  The entire song tells the story of a woman who wants her date to take her to the game instead of a movie or Coney Island (depending on the version).

The song is reportedly based on a woman by the name of Trixie Friganza, a vaudeville performer and suffragette.

Take Me Out to the Ballgame was popularized during a period in which the women’s suffrage movement was in full swing, but while many still thought that women should be at home and not at the ballpark.

It would be another twelve years before the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was passed, granting women the right to vote, which paved the way to broader rights for women.




  1. Great blog post – I loved learning about Tubby Johnston and Maria Pepe

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