Girls Little League
By Karin Carlson
Update: As of October 21, 2013 there is video related to this post on our website.
About a month ago I pulled a few stories from the WCVB collection to digitize. One of those chosen was “Girl Little League Player” from May 24th, 1974. The girl referred to in the slug is Janine Cinseruli, a 10-year old Peabody girl, who was heading into court the following day to fight for the right for girls to play little league baseball. The legal battle against Little League Baseball’s ban on girl players began a couple years before in the spring of 1972 when Maria Pepe sued for her right to play on the Little League team in Hoboken, New Jersey. She tried out, made the team, and played in three games before Little League Headquarters learned about her inclusion on the team and threatened to pull the their charter.
Lawsuits popped up in several other states, including in Massachusetts where two 10-year-old girls, Susan Wegryn of Wellesley and Janine, challenged the Little League’s boy-only rule. In April 1974 Judge Samuel Adams issued a temporary restraining order that postponed tryouts until the issue was resolved. Janine was back in court in May, and in June she won her court case and the right to play baseball for the Peabody Braves.
Janine was a wonderful addition to the team and immediately silenced the critics of girls joining the sport. She won a starting pitcher position and The Journal reported that in her first starting game she “struck out 16 batters and gave up only four hits.” She was eventually promoted to team captain and was the first girl to participate in the Little League major’s All-Star competition.
The WCVB story that I found in our vaults includes an interview with the extremely well spoken 10-year old girl the day before her May court date. There are also interviews with boys from around the neighborhood who mostly don’t mind a girl on the team as long as she is good, and the overwhelming opinion seemed to be that Janine was better than any of them.
Before stumbling across this story I had never thought about the fight for girls to join little league. I, like most girls my age, thought nothing of my ability to play baseball as a child, and the brave young trailblazers less than a decade earlier who made it possible. I am extremely happy that this footage is being preserved and can bring the story of this brave and talented girl to a new generation of young girls.
Associated Press. “Peabody girl to try out.” Berkshire Eagle, April 24, 1974. Accessed May 6, 2012. http://newspaperarchive.com/bershire-eagle/1974-04-25/page-28
Blackman, Yvette. “An Ocean Grove Profile: Breaking the Gender Barrier in Little League Baseball.” Blogfinger: A Digital Breeze from the Jersey Shore, August 15, 2011. Accessed May 6, 2012. http://blogfinger.net/2011/08/15/an-ocean-grove-profile-breaking-the-gender-barrier-in-little-league-baseball/
United Press International. “Little League gals on the ball in one month’s playing time.” The Journal, July 8, 1974. Accessed May 6, 2012. http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=U7VIAAAAIBAJ&sjid=1QENAAAAIBAJ&pg=1102,819609&dq=janine+cinseruli&hl=en
Van Auken, Lance and Robin Van Auken. Play Ball!: The Story of Little League Baseball. Pennsylvania State University Press: University Park, PA. 2001.