A League of Their Own

The 1992 movie inspired young girls and honored the women of the AAGPBL

March 15, 2012
(NBHOF Library)

Before there was Abby Wambach, Jenny Finch or the Williams sisters, there was Dottie, Kit and “All the Way” Mae.

These characters from the 1992 hit film “A League of Their Own” may not have been real, but they were based on the women who played in the All American Girls Professional Baseball League from 1943-54. Forty years later, the movie created icons out of female athletes and gave young women role models who were strong and tough on the diamond but wore dresses and makeup off it.

The film, directed by Penny Marshall, starred Geena Davis as Dottie and Lori Petty as Kit, two sisters from Oregon who are recruited for a tryout with the AAGPBL, which was created during World War II when many men were overseas fighting for their country. The league was designed to keep Americans interested in baseball and take their minds off the war.

The competitive sisters join the Rockford Peaches with manager Jimmy Dugan, played by Tom Hanks, and an impressive supporting cast of teammates with Madonna as Mae, Rosie O’Donnell as Doris and Megan Cavanaugh as Marla. But soon – after Kit is traded – the sisters find themselves on opposite sides of a World Series game.

The movie made more than $107 million at the box office and educated the American public about some of the earliest professional female athletes. It brought a story about family, women’s roles and the game of baseball to fans everywhere.

Costumes from the movie are on exhibit in the Hall of Fame’s Diamond Dreams exhibit, and scenes from the movie itself were filmed in Cooperstown and at the Hall of Fame.

“Though big of budget, "A League of Their Own" is one of the year's most cheerful, most relaxed, most easily enjoyable comedies,” said one review in the New York Times. “It's a serious film that's lighter than air, a very funny movie that manages to score a few points for feminism in passing.”

Samantha Carr is the former manager of web and digital media for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum