Baseball For All: Largest all-female baseball tournament in U.S. history

At Beyer Stadium, in Rockford, Illinois, sports history is being made. Two hundred girls, aged 7 to 17, have come here for the largest girls-only baseball tournament in U.S. history, reports CBS News' Jericka Duncan.

Seventeen teams from the U.S. and Canada traveled to Rockford to play on a field that holds a special place in the history of women's baseball: the home of the Rockford Peaches, the all-female professional team made famous by the movie "A League of Their Own."

It's been more than 60 years since the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League ended its run. Women have made great strides playing professional sports, but tournament organizers say baseball still remains a few plays behind.

Fifteen-year-old Kendra Levesque plays third base. When asked why it is so important to be around other girls at this level, Kendra replied, "Because other girls know what it's like to be a girl playing baseball on an all-boys team back home. They know the extra work they have to put in to be as good as, or better, than the boys."

"I love this game," said tournament organizer Justine Siegal. "It's the greatest game on Earth."

She's founder of Baseball For All, a group whose mission is to empower girls through baseball.

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Players at Baseball For All's 2017 Nationals in Rockford, Illinois.

CBS News

Siegal grew up playing baseball. She says she realized she wasn't alone when she first saw "A League of Their Own," the 1992 film about the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.

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Director Penny Marshall's "A League of Their Own" (1992).

Columbia Pictures

Baseball execs created the league during World War II, while many major league players were off fighting overseas.

Ninety-year-old Maybelle Blair and 84-year-old Shirley Burkovich once played for the all-female league.

"We'll never have any Babe Ruths in the major leagues and we don't expect to," said Blair. "All we want to do is have a chance to play our own game."

They've traveled to Rockford to connect with girls like Levesque who, despite the generation gap, share the same dream they once had: to play ball at the professional level.

"A lot of people don't think girls could play baseball, so you just gotta accept that they don't think you can play, and just go and show them differently on the ball field," said Kendra.

This month marks 25 years since the release of "A League of Their Own," and despite being one of the most successful baseball movies in history, tournament organizers say little has been done by the major leagues to create an avenue for girls wanting to play at their level.