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Happy 20th Anniversary wishes today to one of baseball’s iconic movies, “A League of Their Own”. Personally I can say without hesitation I was one of thousands of eager sports fanatics who crammed into my local multi-screen cinema-plex and watched this comedic drama unfold on it’s release date July 1, 1992.
To this day, I still highly commend then Chicago Cub owner and candy magnate Walter Harvey for his commitment to the forming and concrete support for such a grand diversion as Major League Baseball household names and other ballplayers were on the fields of battle in Europe and the South Pacific in World War II. Not only did the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL) provide a gentle distraction of the war and show a little feminine charm, it also provided a slight hole in the fabric of sports that proved women can be considered athletes and not just “arm candy” for ballplayers.
The movie is truly a sports cult favorite of so many, but did you know there are some pretty interesting items hidden in both plain sight, and in it’s cellulose moments. There was another member of the movie Cusack family (think John and Joan Cusack) in this movie as sister Ann played the soft-spoken outfielder Shirley Baker in the film. But then there were other directing royalty in this flick with Penny Marshall directing the cinematic classic, and her Father Garry Marshall playing Cubs owner Harvey. But hidden in the cast was another family tie as Penny Marshall’s daughter with fellow directing icon Rob Reiner daughter Tracy Reiner played the cute and adorable Betty Spaghetti.
Like so many other icon flicks, this movie boasted a great collection of “Who’s Who” in entertainment from lead actress Genna Davis who played a totally convincing catcher for the Rockford Peaches even producing a slide that would rival any MLB player. But the star power like a full loaded MLB All-Star Game line-up card just kept coming as Tom Hanks played ex-MLB player Jimmy Dugan who showed hints of Casey Stengel and Connie Mack (in my opinion) to a T, plus provided one of the best cinematic catch phrases in baseball ever…”There no crying in baseball”.
But the line-up went deeper than an Academy Award winner as music icon Madonna got to get on the screen again, this time in a sports role as “All-the-Way” May Mordabito, and her very loud and perfect clubhouse heckler Rose O’Donnell. From top to the 9th slot with film veteran Lori Petty playing Dottie’s sister Kit Keller, the film had all the elements and banter of any baseball clubhouse. Heck, it even had ex-”Miami Vice” musical sensation Hans Zimmer doing the musical backgrounds and dramatic moments.
The film gave all of us a deeper understanding of not only the struggle and every day slurs thrown at these women who were only trying to show they could also play “America’s game”. It is one of those heartfelt films men, women and especially young kids, both boys and girls should watch as the film shows teamwork, unity and a historic moment that might have been the beginning of women playing more dominant roles in sports both on and off the field.
If you haven’t watched the film in years, then dust it off and pop it in the old DVD player and sit back and relax with fresh popcorn, maybe an adult beverage of choice, the family and watch a movie that showed historic measures not only in baseball, but in women’s acceptance as sports icons in a team oriented sense.
So I will raise a glass of vendor bought semi-cold adult concoction to the ladies of this grand league that might have been short-lived, but will always be remembered not only as a delightful distraction from the war effort and a fantastic film, but also an iconic classic movie with a little baseball mixed in for good measures.