Back to the 90s – ‘A League of Their Own’

I was a child of the nineties. Though I was born in the early eighties, I really started making badass memories at about age seven. By that time, I was more aware of what was going on around me and had developed a full-blown obsession with movies. Many of my best childhood memories are tied to a movie or at the very least a timeframe related to a movie’s theatrical release. I’ve been in a place lately where I’ve been purchasing and revisiting these films to see what I may have missed when I was a wee one. So here we go, ladies and gents… the first in a series for your reading enjoyment!

A League of Their Own (1992)

For those who have never seen this gem, I will break it down for you quickly. This wonderful piece of cinema is the “true story” of the AAGPBL (All American Girls Professional Baseball League). During World War II, when many professional baseball players were drafted, a candy tycoon/professional baseball team owner came up with a plan to make some money in case Major League Baseball shut down.  He helped put together a professional women’s baseball league. This movie does its best to sum up the league’s origin story as well as tell a heartfelt and hilarious tale of overcoming adversity, sibling rivalry, and reliving the past. If you want a more detailed plot summary, you know where to go.

I first saw the film the week that it was released in theaters. I was balls deep (literally) in little league that summer and naturally loved everything baseball. I had seen ads for it on TV and it looked really funny.  It also had Madonna in it.  After I saw Dick Tracy, I had “Meet and Marry Madonna” on my official To Do List (written in crayon, of course). I had high expectations and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  My favorite part was Tom Hanks’ hilarious and also heartfelt portrayal of drunk former baseball star turned women’s baseball manager Jimmy Dugan. Many of this film’s best moments are attributed to Hanks.  A League of Their Own was also his last big live action comedic role before he won an Oscar for his performance in Philadelphia the very next year. His career has mostly moved away from the kind of comedic roles that gave Hanks his big break. If you want to laugh at Tom Hanks’ performances these days, you have to watch a Toy Story movie. Let’s take a moment to enjoy Tom Hanks’ best moments from A League of Their Own

Tom Hanks is a riot… but he’s not the star. The real stars of the movie are Geena Davis (Dottie) and Lori Petty (Kit) who play two sisters who end up on the same team. The main conflict of the film centers around Kit always feeling inferior to her older sister Dottie as a woman and as a ballplayer. Anyone with an older or younger sibling, only a few years apart, can identify with this story in a very deep way. I know I do (I’m better, Bryan). This connection would not be possible if Davis and Petty didn’t deliver genuine and profound portrayals of quarreling rival siblings.

The following video is a HUUUUUUUGGGGGGGEEEEEE SPOILER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So if you haven’t seen it yet, I suggest you skip this one. If you have seen it or don’t care, this really showcases the tension between Kit and Dottie, especially if you know the logistics and strategy behind baseball. Watch at your own risk…

Movie Clip Time was fun, wasn’t it? The Tom Hanks laugh-fest and the sibling showdown clips are more than enough reason to finally see or revisit this movie. Another reason that everyone should see this movie is its significance in regards to the empowerment of women. The film is set in 1943. In 1992, women had come a long way with respect to civil rights and breaking down previous gender roles. As a child in 1992, I had no idea how significant it was for women to have had a professional baseball league in a time when it was perfectly legal and, for the most part, socially acceptable to hit your wife and tell her to get back to the kitchen. World War II certainly has a lot to do with it, too. With so many men overseas, women were taking jobs in factories, shipyards, plants, and also… baseball diamonds.

Here’s the big difference, though. For the most part, the women working in the factories and plants went home after the men returned from the war. The AAGPBL lasted until 1954. Women’s professional baseball stuck and drew quite the crowd. Men’s baseball never shut down and indeed was more popular, but they never had to slide into second base wearing a skirt in the days before sliding pants. They also never had to deal with a bunch of assholes telling them that they were just a novelty and couldn’t play “real baseball.” I argue that these ladies were tougher and stronger than almost any male ballplayer to play the game.

The “reel life” version of this league has plenty of exaggerations and distorted details compared to the actual story, not the least of which being that the actors in the movie don’t even come close to showing what amazing athletes these women were. Even the ladies who played very small roles, and were hand-picked because of their talent in the sport, don’t match up to the footage of the real ones.  But what else can we expect from actors other than entertaining and enthralling performances? Nothing. That is what they are meant to do, and that’s what they have done in A League of Their Own.

A League of Their Own is not only a great baseball movie, but one of the Top Ten best sports movies in history. It’s a must-see if not a must-own. Go right ahead and rent it on Amazon Instant Video or buy the Blu-ray/DVD if you’re a slave to tangible media. If you don’t love it, email me and I will send you the cash for it via PayPal. Try me.

More importantly, I would like to use this blog as an opportunity to open a dialogue about the film’s ending. I remember as a nine year old, arguing with my uncle about it and I think that my theory still holds up. If you’re planning on seeing it for the first time, I’m sure this won’t give away too much but just in case you wanna put on “eye-muffs.” STOP READING HERE!

•••Do you think she dropped the ball on purpose, or do you think she really did her best and was beaten?•••

I can speak volumes to my opinion on the matter, but I want to hear what you think first. Login below and let the comments flow!

Sean Moriarty – [email protected]

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