Tennis Champion and Social Activist
Maria Pepe was born in 1960 in Hoboken, New Jersey. She was one of the first girls to play Little League baseball after Little League officially banned girls from participating in 1951. In 1972, at age 12, she pitched three Little League games for the Young Democrats team in Hoboken. This was the same team which her friends from the neighborhood had joined, so she joined as well, after having been invited to play by Little League coach Jim Farina. Pepe was asked to leave the team after the Little League threatened to revoke Hoboken's charter. The refusal to allow Pepe to play attracted the attention of the National Organization for Women (NOW). A court case began on Pepe's behalf, which was supported by NOW. Ultimately the New Jersey Superior Court decided that Little League must allow girls to try out. As a result, the Little League organization began a program specifically for girls starting in 1974. By that time, Pepe was too old to continue her Little League dream, but she paved the way for millions of girls nationwide. On August 20, 2004, she was honored by Little League Baseball by being asked to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at the 2004 Little League World Series in South Williamsport. Pepe works as a controller at Hackensack University Medical Center, where she manages a department of 30 employees. She helps to integrate the financial needs with the administrative priorities of the hospital. She works with committees, task forces and various departments, and is in charge of closing out financial statements and managing accounts payable, payroll and capital assets.
"You gotta find your own uniform in life; something that you fit into."