Peabody Little League will hold its Opening Day ceremonies tomorrow in typical fashion, with a short parade that concludes at James Street Park. But the league has more to celebrate than normal this year.
Highlighting the festivities will be the league’s decision to honor the 40-year anniversary of girls being allowed to play Little League Baseball.
Three female players from the 1974 season, notably Janine Cinseruli, will participate in the parade and throw out the ceremonial first pitches.
Expected to join Cinseruli will be Terry Durkin and Christine Jones Marino, who also played for Peabody Little League in 1974. It was Cinseruli, however, who was sort of a trailblazer for young female baseball players.
On the heels of Title IX — a law passed in 1972 that states no person could be excluded from any educational program or activity that received federal financial assistance — Cinseruli, then 10 years old, was told she couldn’t sign up to play baseball with the boys. The Cinseruli family filed a complaint that led to the beginning of Peabody’s Little League baseball season being pushed back, and a case that went to Superior Court.
Similar situations were occurring in other parts of the country but Peabody Little League gave in first, essentially making Cinseruli the first girl to be allowed a spot in Little League.
“Peabody Little League was actually the first in the nation to get permission from Williamsport (home of Little League headquarters in Pennsylvania) to allow girls on their charter,” said first-year Peabody Little League president Peter Lendall, who was a 12-year-old baseball player in 1974.
“I can’t come up with a better analogy. She is like the Jackie Robinson for girls of Little League baseball. I remember it vividly. I was 12 years old and it was my last year of Little League. We couldn’t play because of a court order ... until it was settled.”