Women Ballplayers Pitch New 'League of Their Own'

The hit movie "A League of Their Own" chronicled the true-life story of a women's professional baseball league that was launched during World War II.

Now, amateur baseball enthusiasts, including original members of the league and cast members from the movie, are trying to recapture some of that past glory by launching a nationwide women's league, albeit amateur.

The first tryouts for six teams on the Westside and South Bay, open to women 18 to 65, attracted 20 people at Westchester High School last Sunday, said Tom Duarte, president of the National Adult Baseball Assn.'s Los Angeles-South Bay Chapter.

The hope is that the league--which includes 42 cities nationwide--will spawn a professional women's league.

"I'd like to see it go back to where it used to be," said Pepper Paire Davis, a catcher in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League from 1944 to 1953 (it was disbanded a year later). "We can get back that same enthusiasm."

Megan Cavanaugh, who played a plain-Jane character in the movie, will be among the cast members who have a team called Pepper's Peaches, Davis said.

More tryouts will be held in Westchester today.

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HITTING A LOW NOTE: Santa Monica has its share of strange burglaries. But last week's heist at Chez Jay, a celebrity hangout and popular eatery, no doubt ranks among the strangest.

When managers arrived at the Ocean Avenue restaurant Monday morning, they noticed that a prized possession of owner Jay Fiondella was missing: a 450-pound, 8-by-6-foot iron rendering of a musical note.

Fiondella, also a character actor, was storing the sculpture, used in the Robert Altman movie "Short Cuts," in a crate against the back wall of the restaurant. The note was a gift from the director for Fiondella's role as a bartender in the movie.

"Never in my days would I have thought someone would steal it," Fiondella said. "I'm astonished, devastated, my feelings are hurt--I feel invaded."

The restaurant, a "high-class dive," as Fiondella put it, is known for its pepper steaks, banana potatoes and sawdust-covered floors and is so dark "you don't know who you're eating with."

Fiondella speculated that the ironwork may have been stolen to be melted into scrap metal, or perhaps it's residing in the home of a Hollywood collector. He has offered a $1,000 reward for its return.

"It's turning into a real Hollywood whodunit, but what I really want is to just get it back," he said.

Said police Lt. Bill Brucker: "This is reminiscent of some college fraternity prank--they must have used a pickup truck or a van and a few people to carry this off. If it was only one person, I wouldn't want to meet them in a dark alley."

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GUNS AND ROLLS: Sparks recently flew between Reps. Carlos J. Moorhead (R-Glendale) and Anthony C. Beilenson (D-Woodland Hills), whose district includes Malibu, when the subject of gun control came up at a Southern California lawmakers' breakfast in Washington for Los Angeles-area constituents.

Moorhead derided the federal five-day waiting period in the Brady Bill, named after Jim Brady, former President Ronald Reagan's press secretary, who was critically wounded in the 1982 attempt to assassinate Reagan. Brady and his wife, Sarah, spearheaded the successful fight to pass the bill.

Moorhead called the measure "a turf war between the NRA and the Brady bunch," and said, "The Brady Bill will do nothing to stop crime." The veteran lawmaker said he doesn't "believe even in shooting rabbits" but maintained that most criminals buy their weapons on the black market, not from licensed dealers.

Referring to those who commit crimes with firearms, Moorhead said, "If they didn't have guns, they'd do it with knives," to which one listener muttered: "Did you ever hear of a drive-by knifing?"

For his part, Beilenson said, "We do things in incremental, modest ways." He added that he and other Brady Bill supporters had sided with law enforcement officials because "they are being outgunned by criminals."

Under rhetorical fire, Moorhead said Congress is likely to prohibit minors from owning guns.

"Big deal," Beilenson shot back.

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