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Banned as a girl, woman to throw out first pitch for Little League World Series

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She had to sneak onto her neighborhood team all those years ago. (Source: KOVR/CNN) She had to sneak onto her neighborhood team all those years ago. (Source: KOVR/CNN)

YUBA CITY, CA (KOVR/CNN) - She was banned from Little League baseball in the 1950s for being a girl.

Now the organization that barred her from playing is paying tribute to her at the Little League World Series.

Kathryn Johnston will be throwing out the first pitch in Williamsport, PA, on Monday.

She had to sneak onto her neighborhood team all those years ago. "I love baseball because my dad did," Johnston said. 

Her first love had always been baseball. "I loved any sport but baseball was my favorite," she said.

When she got a chance to try out for the King Dairies as a 12-year-old, she jumped at the opportunity and was willing to do anything to pass as a boy in order to make the team.

"My mom cut my hair off, my braids,” Johnston said. “What I had left I tucked into one of my brother's baseball caps."

With the braids gone, she needed a new name. Kathryn wouldn't work.

"I said to my mom, 'What am I going to call myself? Kay doesn't sound like a boy's name.' She said, ‘You are always reading little comic books. Why don't you just take the name Tubby?’"

Tubby made the team and became one of the best players on the field. She batted third in the lineup and played first base for the Dairies.

"I wasn't going out to be a beacon for girls’ rights,” Johnston said. “I was going out because I loved the game."

But Little League officials were determined to bench Tubby Johnston for good.

"No girls under any circumstances will ever play Little League Baseball,” she said. “So I can remember, when my dad came home, he said, ‘Now look what you've done, because of you girls can't play.’"

The rule would stand for two decades before being overturned by the courts. 

Now 64 years later, Johnston is going back to the league that squashed her baseball dream.

"I'm more than excited,” she said. “It's unbelievable that I get a chance to throw out that first pitch."

Johnston was practicing for that first pitch in the backyard of her home. She said she's determined to show them she still has it after all these years.

Copyright 2014 KOVR via CNN. All rights reserved. 

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