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IN A LEAGUE OF HER OWN

A Profile on 2004 Ernie Banks Positive Image Lifetime Achievement Award Winner Pepper Davis

Lavone “Pepper” Paire Davis was born May 29, 1924 and just as today, she called Los Angeles her home. From the time she was old enough to walk, she played baseball with big brother Joe, and once she was old enough to talk and write - she began writing poems and songs. Growing up during the Great Depression, she began playing softball three nights a week bringing home gas money and food from her sponsors. She daydreamed, like any young boy might have, of being in Baseball’s Hall of Fame.

She attended University High School in West Los Angeles and later was a part time UCLA student while working at a defense plant during World War II when she suddenly dropped everything to become a part of one of the most unique moments in sports history.

With many of baseball’s best serving their country overseas, Chicago Cubs owner Phil Wrigley seized upon the popularity of softball and the talented women who played it. He organized a women’s professional softball league - a league that would evolve into the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, the only women’s pro baseball league to ever exist in this country. And catcher-shortstop-third baseman Pepper Paire Davis would become one of its biggest stars, forging a 10-year career and five championships seasons.

In 1945, she struck out only 6 times in 392 times at bat, never failing to make contact in her first 200 at bats that season. Then in ‘52, she struck out a mere twice in 200 at bats. She led the league in RBI’s the same season she led all catchers in fielding percentage. Never relinquishing her passion for writing, she composed the All American League Song in 1944. Little did she know that 50 years later, it would be highlighted in a film that would tell her story and that of the nearly forgotten league. The league had lasted for 12 years, growing from 4 teams to 10, but in 1955 the All-American Girls Baseball League folded, lacking funding and ballplayers.

Pepper married, became a mother of three children, and eventually a grandmother of four. In the 1980’s, baseball beckoned again and the All-Americans held two reunions. The media responded and KCET filmed a documentary called “A League of Their Own.” Feature film director Penny Marshall saw it, as did Cooperstown, and on November 5, 1988 – Pepper and the women of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League were inducted into Baseball’s Hall of Fame. Penny Marshall went on to direct the motion picture by the same name. Pepper’s song was a part of it, and she became technical advisor on the film.

At 78 years of age, most people might rest on their laurels after a successful run like that. But Pepper is not most people. Since her return to baseball Pepper has been busy giving back to so many people year after year including:

Baseballers Against Drugs
Ernie Banks Positive Image Lifetime Achievement Award
Paralysis Project of America
Honoree & Sports Council Member
Joe DiMaggio Memorial Classic for Children’s Hospital
Award winner and annual participant
City of Hope
“Victor Award” winner
Victorian Association of Melbourne
Honored by and threw out the inaugural first pitch for Australia’s 25-team women’s pro baseball league
Navy at Point Hueneme
“Woman in the Field” honoree
Harmon Killebrew Memorial Classic
Annual children’s charity event participant
World’s Children’s Baseball Fair
With Joe DiMaggio, Hank Aaron & Japan’s Sadaharu Oh
Make A Wish Foundation
Special Olympics
Veterans of Foreign Wars
Bobby Sox & Little Leagues


Exhausting as it may seem just looking at these accomplishments, Pepper isn’t ready to hang up the cleats quite yet. She’s putting the finishing touches on her book “Dirt in the Skirt,” a fifty year labor of love that tells the story of her life. It is that story that arouses the wonder and inspiration that Pepper incites in young girls with a dream, and in the moms and dads that bring them to meet her. Lavone “Pepper” Paire Davis has spent a lifetime of teaching others that dreams can come true and like the movie that tells her story, Pepper remains in A League of Her Own.

 
BASEBALLERS AGAINST DRUGS
P.O. Box 1438 Simi Valley, CA 93062 | 805-583-1439 | homerun@bad.org