Kathryn Johnston Massar: Bringing Girls to Little League

Though her name is solemnly mentioned, Kathryn Johnston Massar’s impact on modern society has had a profound effect on young ladies everywhere. Since its creation, little league baseball was a game exclusively for boys. Things changed in 1950 when one girl refused to be left out of the game.


It was all a matter of fairness for Kathryn. She had spent much of younger life playing baseball with her brother at the local sandlot and it was heartbreaking for her when she had to sit and watch him try out for the Knights of Columbus League without her. She recalls sitting at the kitchen table and weeping uncontrollably. It just wasn’t fair that she couldn’t play. It was an idea hatched up by her mother that actually got her onto the baseball diamond.


She’d put on her brother’s baseball cap, call herself tubby after her favorite comic book character and hide her female identity from the coach. She went through three tryouts without letting her identity slip. She had all the odds against her on the field. Being a lefty and only having her brother’s right-hand glove, Kathryn had to constantly take on and take off the glove between pitches and catches.


Once she made the team she came clean to her coach. Despite the shock, she was a good player and he was happy to have her on the team. Katheryn played hard for one season. Despite taking abuse from fellow team members and people in the audience, she stayed quiet with the hopes of staying on the team.


After the season her father was called into a little league meeting where it was announced that girls were banned from participating in the little league. She never played again. Yet things changed again in 1974 when Maria Pepe won a lawsuit she filed against the league that allowed girls to play.


Since then, over fifteen girls have been in the little league world series. Since 1974, Kathryn Johnston Massar has been invited to throw the first pitch at over a dozen little league world series games.