On A League of Their Own

Featuring Geena Davis (Commander in ChiefBeetlejuice), Tom Hanks (The Da Vinci CodeCatch Me If You CanSleepless in SeattleYou’ve Got Mail), Rosie O’Donnell (Sleepless in Seattle), Bill Pullman (Independence Day), and Don S. Davis (Stargate SG-1, Stargate: Atlantis, Stargate: Continuum), A League of Their Own is a fictionalized account of the real-life All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL). According to the Cine Fille article, “What I Learned From A League of Their Own“:

What can you learn from A League of Their Own? So much. I recently rewatched the movie and after I finished crying, I realized how many valuable lessons we can take away from it. Particularly if you are a women struggling with domesticity. Then A League of Their Own is the ideal movie for you to base your entire existence around.

Here are its key lessons.

1.   Always make a good first impression.

Let Dottie Hinson show you how it’s done. This first impression is key because it is the only way your friends will be able to identify you in 50 years.

2.  When breaking traditional gender roles, know your place.

You may be a talented fielder, hitter, or pitcher who has been plucked from a dairy farm in Oregon to play professional baseball,but  you are not a ballplayer. You will never be a ballplayer. Because you are a girl and you will always be a girl.

3. Because you are just a girl, you will always be an object. 

You will be reminded that you are an object every time you put on your baseball uniform and have to use your sexuality to attract ticket holders.

4. Every woman will be objectified.

Even Rosie O’Donnell.

5. Etiquette training is pointless. 

This is how a lady should react during pointless etiquette training.

6. Be multi-talented!

If you are woman, you should be able to play baseball AND knit AND make coffee. That’s feminism.

7. Older sisters are terrible. Younger sisters are terrible.

Sisters are just terrible in general. Dottie and Kit’s sisterly bond is at the central relationship of the movie, but I’m not entirely sure that they really like each other. Dottie spends so much time treating Kit like crap, you have to wonder what she thinks her pesky little sister will ever be able to take care of herself.

8. If Madonna is going to be your movie, make her play the 1940s version of herself. (Swing dancing is mandatory.)

Exhibit A: When Mae shocks a priest.

Exhibit B: When Mae wants to distract men with her bosom.

9. Know a good photo opportunity when you see one.

Fact: Doing the splits not only improved Life magazine covers but it also saved women’s professional baseball.

10. Don’t forget: A League of Their Own is set during World War II.

Most of the women had husbands fighting overseas and some of their husbands died. The home front during World War II sucked.

11. Baseball is the only way to be reminded that we are all equal.

Did you miss the 10 seconds devoted to segregation in 1940s America? How could you? It was a powerful ten seconds when a unnamed black woman tosses a foul ball to Dottie and everyone is amazed by her throwing arm. Because black women can play baseball too. We’re all equal? What a concept.

12. We’re all going to get old and die. 

During the last ten minutes of A League of Their Own, I am reduced to a sloppy, crying mess. Every. Single. Time. Because the women reunite. And everyone is old or dead. And they sing. AND THEY HAD A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN AND IT WAS BEAUTIFUL.

Additionally, according to the Mental Floss article, “25 Fun Facts About ‘A League Of Their Own’“:

You know there’s no crying in baseball, but here are 25 things you might not know about the 1992 classic, A League of Their Own.

1. THE MOVIE INSPIRED A VERY SHORT-LIVED TV SHOW OF THE SAME NAME.

It ran for one season in 1993 and although none of the marquee names from the movie came back for the small screen edition, Megan Cavanagh and Tracy Reiner reprised their roles as Marla Hooch and “Betty Spaghetti” Horn, respectively; Garry Marshall stayed on as Walter Harvey and even Jon Lovitz came back for one episode.

2. THE REAL LIFE FOUNDER OF THE ALL AMERICAN GIRLS PROFESSIONAL BASEBALL LEAGUE (AAGPBL) MADE HIS FORTUNE SELLING GUM, NOT CHOCOLATE BARS.

In the movie, the league’s owner and founder is a candy bar mogul; the real AAGPBL was started by Philip K. Wrigley, of the chewing gum and the Cubs.

3. THE ORIGINAL FOUR-HOUR CUT OF THE MOVIE GIVES A LOT MORE BACKSTORY FOR ALL THE GIRLS.

For instance, in one cut scene, Kit (Lori Petty) and Dottie (Geena Davis) discuss how after dating for a preposterously-long five years without commitment, Dottie married Bob the night he got drafted.

4. THE MANSION THAT SERVES AS WALTER HARVEY’S HOUSE HAS A SECRET BAR HIDDEN BEHIND A TRICK WALL.

Originally, a scene was made up specifically to incorporate the bar, but it was cut.

5. ALSO CUT? SOME VERY RETRO FEELINGS ABOUT PREMARITAL SEX.

The slimmed down version of the film lets Madonna’s Mae keep her “All the Way” nickname, but a deleted scene shows Dottie advising Kit not to hang around such a bad influence. Dottie isn’t sure if going “all the way” is something married women “get to” or “have to” do.

6. THE SCENE AT THE SUDS BUCKET BAR WAS ORIGINALLY MUCH LONGER.

The lengthier version shows Kit striking out a would-be-suitor who bets he can get a hit off her in exchange for little quality time out in his truck. Oh, and Tom Hanks’ character, Jimmy Dugan, follows the girls to the bar and gives Kit some timely advice to win the wager.

7. TWO THOUSAND GIRLS CONVERGED ON UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA’S CAMPUS FOR THE AUDITIONS.

But none of them got to read for director Penny Marshall until they passed the baseball portion of the audition. Well, except for Geena Davis, who showed off her then-lacking baseball skills in Marshall’s backyard at their first meeting.

8. GARRY MARSHALL, WHO PLAYS WALTER HARVEY, IS PENNY MARSHALL’S BROTHER.

He joined the cast when someone dropped out and they needed a last minute actor.

9. ROSIE O’DONNELL ORIGINALLY READ FOR THE PART OF MARLA.

When Megan Cavanagh proved to be perfect as Marla, a new part was written for O’Donnell, who was not only hilarious but one of the more talented ballplayers.

10. THE ONLY OTHER PART WRITTEN WITH A SPECIFIC ACTOR IN MIND WAS THE CURMUDGEONLY SCOUT, ERNIE CAPADINO.

It had to be Jon Lovitz.

11. MARLA’S HUSBAND, NELSON, MAKES CHEESE.

It was among the details lost when the Suds Bucket scene was shortened. But I think it really adds something to the movie.

12. BEFORE FILMING EVEN BEGAN, THE ACTRESSES ALL HAD TO HONE THEIR BASEBALL ABILITY.

They spent eight hours a day, six days a week for seven and half months participating in baseball training.

13. MADONNA WORKED AT LEAST AS HARD AS EVERYONE ELSE, BUT STILL STRUGGLED WITH SOME OF THE MORE TECHNICAL ASPECTS OF THE GAME.

Her character, Mae, had to be moved from third base to the outfield because she couldn’t master fielding ground balls.

14. SOME OF THE PEOPLE ON PRODUCTION WANTED JIMMY AND DOTTIE TO END UP TOGETHER, AND WHEN THAT IDEA WAS SCRAPPED, SO WERE THE KEY SCENES OF ROMANTIC TENSION.

Their conversation on the bus that stayed in the film may have seemed to hint at something more than friendship, but it’s nothing compared to a cut scene in which Dottie watches Jimmy hit batting practice late at night. Jimmy tells Dottie how much he loves watching her play, claiming that she rivals Ty Cobb and Ted Williams. After Dottie admits how much she loves baseball, he kisses her. She runs into the clubhouse and, originally, this is where she starts packing her things and tells Ira Lowenstein, the AAGPBL general manager, that she has to go home.

15. DURING THEIR TRAINING CAMP, THE ACTRESSES LEARNED TO SLIDE ON A SLIP ‘N SLIDE.

But that idea was scrapped after three of them ended up with concussions.

16. EACH CHARACTER HAD A “CLEAN” AND “DIRTY” UNIFORM THAT THEY WOULD WEAR DEPENDING ON IF THE SCENE THEY WERE FILMING TOOK PLACE AT THE BEGINNING OR END OF A GAME.

To get the “dirty” uniforms, they just went out and rolled around on the base paths.

17. EVERYTHING WAS AUTHENTIC, FOR BETTER OR FOR WORSE.

Between the hot wool uniforms, the un-webbed mitts and the lack of batting gloves, the period costumes made the baseball that much more difficult—and dangerous.

18. THE 1700 EXTRAS ALSO HAD TO SUFFER THROUGH THE EXTREME INDIANA HEAT IN PERIOD COSTUME.

To entertain them during down time, Rosie called a comedian friend of hers, who spent 10 weeks with the production. O’Donnell and Hanks also took turns entertaining the “fans.”

19. IN A CUT SCENE, WE SEE POST-MARRIAGE MARLA PLAYING WITH KIT ON THE RACINE BELLES.

She’s pregnant at the time and, although desperate to keep it secret from management, the players on both her team and the other teams agree to accommodate her. During the game, Dottie and Jimmy get into a fight about their relationship and she doesn’t notice Marla playing second base. On a double play ball, Dottie slides hard and takes out Marla who is removed on a stretcher. The other players accuse Dottie of stopping at nothing to win. Later, we learn that both Marla and the baby are fine but, in the original version of the movie, it is guilt over her actions that has Dottie in tears when Bob unexpectedly arrives.

20. O’DONNELL REALLY DOES THROW TWO BALLS TO TWO CATCHERS AT ONCE.

It’s a trick she learned on set from one of the actual original members of the AAGPBL.

21. SIMILARLY, GEENA DAVIS REALLY DOES CATCH A POP UP BEHIND HER BACK.

It was supposed to be done by a stunt double, but the double was having trouble. So Davis gave it a go and, well, you’ve seen the result.

22. A LOT OF ACTUAL BASEBALL WAS PLAYED ON SET.

Marshall had the actresses play real games with multiple cameras running to get extra footage for in-game montages.

23. DURING THE SCENE WHERE THE SCOUT APPROACHES DOTTIE AND KIT IN THE BARN, A CALF WAS ACTUALLY BORN ON SET.

The calf was named “Penny” after the movie’s director.

24. MADONNA’S CHARACTER CATCHES A BALL IN HER HAT IN ONE SCENE, BUT TECHNICALLY, THAT WOULDN’T HAVE COUNTED AS AN OUT.

Rules specifically state that for a fly ball to be an out, it has to be caught in the glove or hand.

25. THE EXTRAS IN THE HALL OF FAME SCENE ARE THE ACTUAL PLAYERS FROM THE AAGPBL.

As for Dottie and the rest of the Peaches, it’s older actresses you’re seeing, but the dialogue is dubbed with the younger actresses’ voices.

Finally, according to the Entertainment Weekly article, “I’m Still Not Over… Kit beating Dottie in ‘A League of Their Own’“:

If you ever played softball as a young girl, then 1992’s A League of Their Own was required viewing. Starring Geena Davis, Lori Petty, and Tom Hanks, the film follows the All American Girls Professional Baseball League during World War II. Most of the movie is great, save for the ending, when Dottie (Davis) and the Rockford Peaches lose to Kit (Petty) and the Racine Belles. And although I’ve seen it countless times, Kit’s triumph at the end really annoys me.

From the start, it’s clear Kit lives in her older sister Dottie’s shadow. After Kit strikes out in their softball game, Dottie gets the hit to win the game. And Kit, instead of being a team player, whines about it all the way home, while also soliloquizing on how their parents prefer Dottie to her: “This is our daughter Dottie, this is our other daughter, Dottie’s sister.”

When a scout for the AAGPBL, played by Jon Lovitz, comes calling for Dottie, though, Dottie insists that he bring Kit along, too. If it weren’t for Dottie, Kit wouldn’t have had a chance to try out. Both sisters make the Rockford Peaches – Dottie as the catcher, Kit as a pitcher. But Kit’s antagonistic attitude toward her sister starts weighing on Dottie and the whole team. Dottie asks the head of the league for a trade – and because she’s the best player and star – she gets it, with a catch. They actually trade Kit away to Racine, causing more of a rift between the two.

In the World Series, it comes down to the last game. Dottie, who had initially left the team before the playoffs because her husband came home from the war, returns to play. With the score tied, Kit barrels through the stop sign at third, and Dottie has the ball in her glove at home. Kit runs into her sister, and Dottie drops the ball. Kit scores, and the Racine Belles win the game. Uggh.
The whole movie sets up Dottie as the superior player, and Kit as the one who wants it more. Fine. But Kit is an annoying, whiny brat who can’t accept that her sister is better than she is at baseball. And to reward her at the end with the World Series title really sucks. I usually end up watching the film and shutting it off after Dottie returns. I can’t stand watching Kit win.

Does anyone else feel the way I do?

 

According to Roger Ebert:

Until seeing Penny Marshall’s “A League of Their Own,” I had no idea that an organization named the All-American Girls’ Professional Baseball League ever flourished in this country, even though I was 12 when it closed up shop, and therefore of an age to collect Bob Feller and Robin Roberts baseball cards and listen to the Cardinals on the radio. The league was founded in 1943, when it briefly appeared that men’s baseball would be a casualty of the war, and once the men came marching home it’s a wonder the league survived until 1954. Then it was consigned to oblivion; history is written by the victors.

At the time, it seemed as if the women’s league might mean the financial survival of the major league baseball franchises and their owners. The movie gives us a Chicago candy-bar mogul in place of the Wrigleys and shows his agents scouting the countryside for women who could play ball. In a rural area of Oregon, the scout finds two sisters, Dottie and Kit (Geena Davis and Lori Petty), one who can catch and hit, the other who can throw but is a sucker for high, fast balls. He brings them back to Chicago for tryouts with a lot of other hopefuls, including would-be team members played by Madonna, Rosie O’Donnell and Megan Cavanaugh.

A coach is needed for the team, which is based in Rockford. The owner (Garry Marshall) recruits Jimmy Dugan (Tom Hanks), a onetime home-run king whose alcoholism wrecked his career and left him without prospects. For the first few weeks of the season, Dugan can hardly focus on the field, but then he starts to take an interest in his girls. By the end of the season, Rockford is in the World Series against Racine (no great achievement, since there are only four teams in the league).

“A League of Their Own” follows many of the time-honored formulas of sports movies, and has a fair assortment of stock characters (the plain girl who gains confidence, the brash girl with the heart of gold, the jealous sisters), but it has another level that’s a lot more interesting.

After years of perpetrating the image of the docile little woman who sat at home caring for her lord and master, American society suddenly found that it needed women who were competent to do hard, skilled work during World War II. Rosie the Riveter became a national emblem, Hollywood threw out its romance scripts and started making movies about strong, independent females, and it was discovered that women could actually excel at professional sports.

The movie remembers this period from the present; it begins with Dottie Hinson, the Geena Davis character, now older, taking a trip to Cooperstown for ceremonies honoring the women’s league. What we learn about Dottie is that she never took women’s baseball all that seriously. She was the best player of her time, and yet, in her mind, her was simply on hold until her husband came back from the war.

Dugan, the coach, tells her she lights up when she plays baseball – that something comes over her. But she doesn’t seem aware of it.

This ambiguity about a woman’s role is probably in the movie because it was directed by a woman, Penny Marshall. A man might have assumed that these women knew how all-important baseball was.

Marshall shows her women characters in a tug-of-war between new images and old values, and so her movie is about transition – about how it felt as a woman suddenly to have new roles and freedom.

The movie has a real bittersweet charm. The baseball sequences, we’ve seen before. What’s fresh are the personalities of the players, the gradual unfolding of their coach and the way this early chapter of women’s liberation fit into the hidebound traditions of professional baseball. By the end, when the women get together again for their reunion, it’s touching, the way they have to admit that, whaddaya know, they really were pioneers.

 

alotowncastbig

Advertisements

One thought on “On A League of Their Own

  1. I love this movie, although the sexism doesn’t offend me as much as others due to the fact it was a common mentality when this movie is supposed to be set. However, Kitt winning…. that’s just…. wrong. Dottie managed to fall down a flight of stairs and catch a ball, managed to do the splits and catch the ball, caught it behind her back, caught it coming directly at her face, caught it in every conceivable way. But her 83 lb sister bumps her a little bit and she drops it and her sister wins? I KNOW she did it on purpose because her whiny little sister wanted it more than her. After all, she stands next to a dumbstruck Jimmy smirking proudly, and at some point even tells her sister that she just wanted it more. Pfft. That just takes being the better person too far. She let down her whole team because of her sister. Gag.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s