Lavonne "Pepper" Paire-Davis, who starred in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League around the time of World War II and was the inspiration for one of the main characters in the film "A League of Their Own," died on Saturday, according to an Associated Press report. She was 88.
According to Paire-Davis' son, William, Paire-Davis died of natural causes in Los Angeles.
Paire-Davis joined the pioneering league -- which played from 1943-54 to help keep the game alive while many male players enlisted -- in 1944 and played for 10 seasons.
She was the model for the character played by Geena Davis in the 1992 film, which also starred Tom Hanks, Madonna and Rosie O'Donnell.
Paire-Davis played catcher and shortstop, and won five championships while with the Racine Belles, Grand Rapids Chicks and Fort Wayne Daisies. Teams in the league played 120 games over a four-month season.
"I know what it's like for your dream to come true, mine did," Paire-Davis told the AP in a 1995 interview. "Baseball was the thing I had the most fun doing. It was like breathing."
The All-American Girls Baseball League was founded by Cubs owner Philip K. Wrigley, and featured mostly women from the Chicago area. Paire-Davis, though, graduated from high school and enrolled at UCLA to study English before working as a welder's assistant in Long Beach, according to the AP.
Paire-Davis told the AP in a prior interview she couldn't "honestly tell you I knew the history we were making back then." But, she added, "I can tell you we knew we were doing something special."
Joey Nowak is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joeynowak.