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(COLUMN) Rice: Just Another Gal from Casper – Watching ‘A League of Their Own’

Kate Rice


The first time I saw A League of Their Own, I had just fallen off of a boulder while hiking with some friends. I had a nice-sized cranial goose egg, but compared to the injuries the actresses/ballplayers sustained filming this movie, a bump on the head earlier that day was nothing. 

A League of Their Own is inspired by the All American Girls Professional Baseball League, which operated from 1943 to 1954. Cause, y’know, many of the men were off to war, so “Rosie the Riveter” was also allowed, for a brief period, to be “Annie the Athlete” as well. 

This story begins in 1943, too. Dottie Hinson (Geena Davis) and her little sis, Kit Keller, are recruited for the AAGPBL — well, Dottie is; Kit, the enthusiastic one, tags along and makes the league, too. From the start, the movie showcases the siblings’ competitiveness as well as their affection.

Other colorful recruits include Madonna’s boy-crazy “All The Way Mae” and her bestie, Rosie O’Donnell’s tomboyish Doris Murphy. Powerhouse hitter Marla Hooch (Megan Cavanagh), who understands more about being a ballplayer than about being a girl. Evelyn Gardner (Bitty Schram), who inspired the movie’s most memorable line, “There’s no crying in baseball!” Every supporting actress knocks it out of the park, both acting and actually playing ball. 

The men are relegated to supporting parts, except for Tom Hanks, whose team manager Jimmy Dugan starts out crass and disinterested (the line “Boy, that was some good peeing!” speaks to the girls’ introduction to Jimmy), but grows into a caring coach and champion for these oft-underappreciated women. Bill Pullman makes a brief appearance as Dottie’s military husband. Jon Lovitz’s Ernie Capadino is part baseball recruiter, part comedian. There are a couple of other familiar faces, but other than Hanks, it’s the girls who own the show.

The women all have different backgrounds, but one thing’s for sure — they can all play ball. They sleep on the bus, play in ungodly heat, and get dirty and bruised on the field. Off the field, they’re expected to maintain their ladylike appearance and demeanor. One of my favorite scenes is when the girls sneak out to a local roadhouse for the evening. There’s a fantastic dance number that impresses me as much as their ballplaying. And by the movie’s end, Dottie and Kit’s rivalry has peaked and mostly resolved. 

I’m not a sports fanatic (I can’t even hike rocky terrain without falling, remember?), but this movie makes me wish I’d developed hand–eye coordination at some point in my life. It’s a great show with great heart. Search A League of Their Own streaming options, or order this gem on DVD or Blu-Ray from places like Amazon and eBay. 

(Kate Rice)