Peggy Cammarano, First Girl in Metuchen Little League, Celebrated at 2014 Season Opener by Family and Friends

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Peggy_Young0001.jpgLong-time residents of Metuchen, the Cammarano family, have been to many opening day celebrations for spring baseball. This year, however, they will have a very special connection to the season opener -- this year is the 10th anniversary of the passing of Peggy Cammarano Phillips, the first girl to ever play on a baseball team in the Metuchen Little League. This year, two Little League teams will be sponsored in her name (one by her family and one by Edward Perrone of Eagle Plans, a Metuchen financial planning office).

Dawn Cammarano says of her beloved sister-in-law, "[We have had] number 5 placed on the arm of the shirts of all of the players. We chose this way to remember her for two reasons: she was the first girl to play on a baseball team in Metuchen Little League, and [she had a great] love of children's sports. She went to so many of her children's games and made sure that she knew the name of everyone on the teams to root for them -- each and every child."

Peggy tried twice, at the ages of 10 and 11, to break the gender barrier of Metuchen Little League and finally got on a team when the gender-breaking edict from Little League's Williamsburg headquarters became official. Peggy told the Metuchen Recorder in 1994 that "I remember trying out . . . everything. I did everything the boys did. Nothing was different." She and two other girls found place on teams that year.

Peggy played left and right fields and spent some time at shortshop. At her first game, she surprised her head coach, who assumed she wouldn't show up. "I had my hair up in my cap," she recalled with a laugh. "I was standing right next to him and I said, 'I'm right here.'" That 1974 change in national Little League protocol was revolutionary at the time. "Knowing what I know now," she said in that 1994 profile, "it doesn't hurt to raise a little ruckus now and then."  

The Little League Opening Day parade will end up at Oakland Park this weekend, the same park where Peggy spent her ball-playing days and watched her brothers play before she was able to. With her family in attendance, it will be a heartfelt way to remember all that Peggy meant to them and to Metuchen in general.

Every girl playing ball this season owes a debt to Peggy and her role in creating a new era for girls in Little League. Her commitment, dedication and sense of fun will never be forgotten.

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