EXPIRED: 02/16/10 – Sylvia Pressler, 75, was a trailblazing New Jersey judge who, in 1973, ruled that girls could join boys on Little League teams.
She was battling lymphoma and died the day before she was scheduled to begin chemotherapy treatments.
Maria Pepe, a 12-year-old Hoboken resident, had played three games for her Little League team the year before but stopped when Little League’s national office threatened to revoke the league’s charter. The National Organization for Women filed a lawsuit on her behalf.
Pressler didn’t consider the Little League case one of her more difficult decisions, despite its ramifications and the publicity surrounding it.
“The institution of Little League is as American as the hot dog and apple pie,” Pressler wrote in her ruling. “There is no reason why that part of Americana should be withheld from girls.”
The ruling was first decried by Association but by the following year the Little League amended its charter to allow girls and also created a softball division.