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An unsung American hero played on a bittersweet field where the personal intersected sharply with the political. Thanks to her, there are now over 300,000 girls playing Little League.

 

Last week I found myself in a room full of some of the most recognizable trailblazers of the women’s movement for the launch of Makers, a new AOL/PBS initiative.

There was Marlo Thomas, who portrayed the first single working woman on television. And Robin Morgan, who led women to throw their bras in the trash outside the 1968 Miss America pageant.

But the person who truly captured my admiration was not so famous.

Meet Maria Pepe. If you are a woman who played Little League baseball — or your daughter does today — you have Maria to thank. Her story goes like this:

In 1972, when Maria was 11 years old, she tried out for the Hoboken, NJ Little League. She became the first girl in more than 20 years to even try to participate in one of America’s most beloved youth pastimes. With a strong-arm and a determined attitude, she made the team as a pitcher.

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