Growing up in Poland, I was curious about one particular American sport: baseball. After seeing Mary-Kate swinging a bat and playing baseball in the middle of the street in It Takes Two, I became very intrigued by this sport that’s not common in my country. However, the never-dying interest remained unexplored for many years. When I first met my now-wife and moved to the United States, she took me to the batting cages, and when we got home and I whined about my sore forearms caused by swinging, Cristina showed me Penny Marshall’s 1992 classic A League Of Their Own, which I’ve loved dearly ever since. Even at its 30th anniversary, the film remains an empowering story about female resilience and the dread of war. More importantly, the feature pays homage to the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.
Even though I watched Marshall’s masterpiece years after its premiere, it still had a profound impact on me. The plot revolves around Dottie Hinson (Academy Award winner Geena Davis) and her sister Kit (Lori Petty), two country girls who help on their parents’ farm as Dottie awaits the return of his husband (Bill Pullman) who went to war. Their dull albeit safe routine suddenly stops when a baseball scout, Ernie Capadino (Jon Lovitz), recruits them to the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, where they join the Rockford Peaches team for the season, trained by the famous player, Jimmy Dugan (Academy Award winner Tom Hanks). Doris (Rosie O’Donnell), Mae (Madonna), Marla (Megan Cavanagh), Helen (Anne Ramsey), and Betty (Tracy Reiner) are among the sisters’ fellow players. All quickly bond and create important friendships remembered for life. Every woman comes from a different background, but they all share one thing: an unwavering love for baseball.
Being on the receiving end of the film’s narrative, as a foreigner, it’s easier to see and understand film’s versatility and worldwide popularity, when looking at the baseball aspect. Despite the fact this all-American sport is a central theme of A League of Their Own, it continues to attract a wider audience, even after 30 years, due to its many different layers as important as the matter of baseball; a celebration of sisterhood, for example. Not only that, but the film has the potential to further impact the audience by demonstrating women’s incredible resourcefulness and claiming the sports movie genre for the first time by viewing it solely through the female gaze and focusing solely on female characters in sport, who are inspired by historic figures.
One can agree that A League of Their Own is a progressive film, relevant at any time. Marshall created a space for an almost entirely female cast and centered the story on them. Although the premise emphasizes Davis and Petty’s family dynamics and places them in the spotlight, other characters are equally important and don’t merely serve as a background for the main duo. When I first saw Davis in Stuart Little, which became an important part of my family’s Easter tradition (for some reason, it would air during Easter almost every year). Following that, Thelma & Louise left me shaken by what I saw in its story. Nonetheless, A League Of Their Own is another production that begs to be in each film enthusiast’s collection and has a special place on my shelf as well.
Marshall ensured that the world knew the story about the league and carefully chose and combined each element of the film, whether it be a cast, imaginative costumes, or a rock-solid script. Thus, there is no surprise that the outstanding, memorable score by Hans Zimmer contributes to the genius of the film. Artist’s music takes the lead in various scenes and helps the audience immerse fully into the narrative that highlights an important part of American history. In addition, the film’s virtuosity makes it a perfect introduction to this aspect, approachable to a foreign audience who may not know the rules of baseball right of the bat (pun entirely intended).
In short, A League of Their Own is flawless; it’s a masterwork from a talented director. Whenever thinking and exploring Marshall and her work, I always initially remember her from a brief but hilarious role in Hocus Pocus. Her skill for storytelling and film with Davis and Petty stimulates a discussion, but also invites the audience to further research. The script by Lowell Ganz (from a story by Kim Wilson and Kelly Candaele) also includes many one-liners that are still heard today, such as the famous “there is no crying in baseball!” A League of Their Own, with a variety of outstanding performances, remains one of my all-time favorite films. It’s an enduring tribute to the real players, a story about sisters and sisterhood, resilience, strength, and of course, baseball.
A League of Their Own was released on July 1, 1992 by Columbia Pictures.