Headers and hardball

Hoboken hosted LaLiga Promises International Soccer Tournament and Baseball for All Maria Pepe Series

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Maria Pepe with her once coach Jimmy Farina. Pepe fought to change regulations which now allow girls to play Little League Baseball. Photo by Jerry Lore.
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On June 29 and 30, more than 100 girls played in the Baseball for All's Maria Pepe Series. Photo by Jerry Lore.
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Maria Pepe addressed more than 100 girls from across the East Coast before the opening game of the weekend-long tournament on the same field where she was denied the right to play baseball in Hoboken more than 40 years ago. Photo by Jerry Lore.
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The Hoboken Futbol Club brought out the flag before the final match on Sunday. Photo by Jerry Lore.
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Sixteen international under- 12 club teams played in the LaLiga Promises International Soccer Tournament.
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Barcelona beat Real Madrid 6-1, becoming this year's champions. Photo by Jerry Lore.
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  1 / 8 
Maria Pepe with her once coach Jimmy Farina. Pepe fought to change regulations which now allow girls to play Little League Baseball. Photo by Jerry Lore.
  2 / 8 
On June 29 and 30, more than 100 girls played in the Baseball for All's Maria Pepe Series. Photo by Jerry Lore.
  3 / 8 
Maria Pepe addressed more than 100 girls from across the East Coast before the opening game of the weekend-long tournament on the same field where she was denied the right to play baseball in Hoboken more than 40 years ago. Photo by Jerry Lore.
  4 / 8 
  5 / 8 
The Hoboken Futbol Club brought out the flag before the final match on Sunday. Photo by Jerry Lore.
  6 / 8 
  7 / 8 
Sixteen international under- 12 club teams played in the LaLiga Promises International Soccer Tournament.
  8 / 8 
Barcelona beat Real Madrid 6-1, becoming this year's champions. Photo by Jerry Lore.

On June 29 and 30, sports fans got a double header as Hoboken hosted two tournaments, LaLiga Promises International Soccer Tournament and the Baseball for All Maria Pepe Series.

LaLiga Promises is partnered with the Jose Ramon de la Morena Foundation. It aims to promote U.S. youth soccer at the grassroots level, bringing together the top 16 international clubs in the under-12 category for a weekend of competition.

Participating clubs included FC Barcelona, Valencia CF, Guadalajara, Atlético de Madrid, Villarreal CF, SL Benfica, Real Betis, Club America, Sevilla FC, RCD Espanyol, Inter, Liverpool FC, New York City FC, Real Madrid, and Hoboken City FC. For the first time, it welcomed Guangzhou R&F from Guangdong in China. This is the tournament’s fifth season.

“LaLiga Promises is one of the most important projects we do in LaLiga – with the Jose Ramon de la Morena Foundation – to promote the growth of soccer,” said Javier Tebas, President of LaLiga. “This tournament in New Jersey is part of our commitment to grow soccer internationally, especially in the United States. LaLiga North America – a joint venture between LaLiga and Relevent – is proactively working in soccer growth and grassroots development as part of our strategy in North America.”

This year’s champion was Barça, which beat Real Madrid 6-1.

Diamonds are a girl’s best friend 

True to Hoboken’s roots, the Baseball For All Maria Pepe Series, the East Coast’s largest all-girls baseball tournament, took place in Hoboken as well as Weehawken last weekend.

The event is named for girls-baseball trailblazer, Maria Pepe. More than 130 girls ages 8 to 18 from the Northeast played hardball with and against other girls.

In 1972 at the age of 12, Maria Pepe played three games with her Hoboken Little League team. She was then banned from playing as parents and coaches cited the 1951 “Tubby Rule” that prohibited girls from playing Little League baseball.

The National Organization for Women filed a gender discrimination suit on her behalf. Two years later, after a series of contentious court cases and appeals, an appellate court ruled in her favor, making it illegal for Little League Baseball to dismiss girls from teams based on gender. This aided in the passage of Title IX and future federal regulations giving women and girls the right to play sports.

“Maria is a legend and because of her sacrifices as a child, these girls today can play baseball,” said Justine Siegal, founder of the nonprofit Baseball For All and the first woman to coach a Major League Baseball organization.

Pepe threw the first pitch to begin the weekend-long tournament.

Baseball For All is a nonprofit that aims to level the playing field for girls across the United States by giving girls a chance to play, coach, and lead in baseball.

The Maria Pepe Series was co-organized by a local all-girls baseball program, the NY Wonders, a newly incorporated nonprofit focused on expanding girls baseball.

For updates on this and other stories check hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Marilyn Baer can be reached at marilynb@hudsonreporter.com