1992’s A League of Their Own is a fun and touching sports movie classic. The film is set during the early days of America’s involvement in World War II when the country was struggling and in need of a little entertainment. In an effort to replace the absent Major League baseball, a women’s league was formed.
The story focuses on one of the teams in this new league, made up of a colorful bunch of female athletes looking to make their mark in sports history. Directed by Penny Marshall and featuring a cast that includes Geena Davis, Tom Hanks, and Madonna, the film remains a beloved comedy to this day.
Updated on February 17th, 2022, by Lynn Gibbs: It’s been 30 years since A League of Their Own was released and it’s still considered one of the greatest sports movies of all time. The film shed a light on what life was like in America during the Second World War and how women had as much talent and passion for the game of baseball as the men did.
With Geena Davis as catcher Dottie Hinson and Tom Hanks as Coach Jimmy Dugan, the film had humor, drama, and spunk. Viewers quickly wondered if A League of Their Own was a true story and it unleashed hidden things they didn’t know about the film.
An Important Body Double
Anne Ramsay played first baseman, Helen Haley. Helen was a rather serious character and was one heck of a ballplayer. Funny enough, Helen had a body double no one noticed. Julie Croteau stood in for Helen and was an important person that fans didn’t recognize.
According to AP News, Julie Croteau was the first woman to play men’s baseball in the NCAA. Due to her natural skill, she signed on as a stand-in for Anne. Although both of them were left-handed, Julie had to wear a wig to look like Anne from the back.
Take A Look At Mae’s Dance Partner
When the women are at a local bar letting off some steam as a team, Mae—a natural flirt who knew the effect she had on men—couldn’t help but dance the night away with a few of the suitors on the dance floor. However, there was one man in particular that she danced with the most.
If Penny Marshall fans grew up watching her show Laverne & Shirley, they would recognize that the dancer was Eddie Mekka — a former character on Laverne & Shirley and one of Laverne’s boyfriends. Another Easter egg is that his character in Laverne & Shirley was a dance instructor.
You’re Killing Me, Alice!
As the Peaches are leaving the locker room for a game, Jimmy screams “You’re killing me, Alice! You’re killing me!” Alice and the other women scurry out of the locker room as an annoyed Jimmy trailed behind them.
What some fans didn’t pick up on was that this line was paraphrased from one of the most well-known quotes in sports history, said by Coach Lou Saban. The former Denver Bronco’s coach said, “They’re killing me, Whitey, they’re killing me,” which is still said routinely today in reference to sports.
The True Story Of Dottie Kamenshek
The incredible story behind this movie is inspiring, fascinating, and hugely entertaining. It’s also one of those stories that are too good for even Hollywood to think up as it is based around real-life events and even real people.
During World War II, the All-American Girls Professional Baseball team was formed to provide sports entertainment during this time. Something that fans didn’t know about A League of Their Own is that the lead character of Dottie Hinson (Geena Davis) is based on a real member of the league, Dottie Kamenshek. When Kamenshek died in 2010, former teammate and friend, Pepper Paire Davis said “She was one of the few ballplayers in our league who hit .300, which is like hitting .400 in the majors,” according to Game Day News.
The actors playing the baseball players in the movie went through a lot of hard work to appear as though they were real athletes. And they had the scars to prove it. Filming the game sequences caused many of the girls to get roughed up a lot, which was added to the movie. The hated stereotype of ‘women can’t play baseball’ was destroyed after watching the women in this movie.
When audiences see the players comparing their various injuries, there is no makeup added, according to Collider. Those are the real scraps and bruises they acquired during filming. Also, when learning the sliding technique, three of the actors got concussions, according to Throwback.
The Players Were Required To Go To Beauty School
One of the most interesting aspects of the movie is how the players worked to be taken seriously as athletes while they were being treated like models. The financial backers behind the project go to ridiculous lengths to appeal to the audience, including ordering the players to go to “charm and beauty school” to become “proper ladies.”
As outlandish as this seems, this was one of the more accurate sports movies because attending beauty school was something the real athletes of this league were forced to do, according to Racked. They were all sent to the Helena Rubinstein Beauty Salon where they got makeovers and attended classes that taught proper etiquette, hygiene, and dress codes.
Jon Lovitz Was As Funny Off Set As He Was On
One of the most entertaining characters in the film is Ernie Capadino, played by Saturday Night Live alumni Jon Lovitz. Ernie is a scout who is responsible for seeking out some of the hidden talents that can fill this new women’s league. He is also a rude, vulgar, and hilarious man.
Originally, the part was much bigger, and not purely comedic like it is in the final version. However, after the test audiences responded so well to the character’s one-liners, it was decided the rest would be cut to focus on the jokes. Lovitz improvised many of his lines, and Lori Petty told Vulture that she had to bite her tongue to avoid laughing during these scenes.
Tom Hanks Gained 30 Pounds For The Role
Though the film is largely made up of a female cast, the biggest star is Tom Hanks, who plays former Major League player Jimmy Dugan. Dugan becomes the coach of the Rockford Peaches, the main team followed in the movie.
Hanks was initially unsure about the part as he thought he was not old enough. However, Penny Marshall convinced him that Jimmy isn’t a has-been because he’s too old but rather because of an injury. In order to convincingly play a washed-up athlete, Cheatsheet noted that Hanks gained 30 pounds, which he credited to eating a lot of Dairy Queen.
Popularity Of The League
Like most sports movies, there is an underdog element to this story, which makes it all the more entertaining. After the league is formed, the teams have trouble attracting fans as people just do not seem to be interested in watching women play baseball. The players begin using gimmicks and tricks to attract more fans until they eventually become a hit.
In reality, the female league was popular from the start, and fans were more than happy to show up to the games, according to the league’s website. Part of this is due to the fact that the league visited many Midwestern towns without their own Major League teams.
Older Characters & Voiceovers
The movie is bookended by an older version of Dottie getting ready for the unveiling of the women’s league exhibit in the Baseball Hall of Fame. There, she also reunited with her sister Kit, whom she played with in the league. These may have been fictional baseball players for the team picture but real players who played in the AAGPBL were also in attendance as background characters.
Age-appropriate actors were used to play the older version of these characters. However, their voices were dubbed by Geena Davis and Lori Petty. The LA Times noted if viewers listen closely, it’s quite clear it is the younger actors speaking these final lines.
Real Legends Are In The Movie
The movie is not only an entertaining sports movie but also a wonderful tribute to these trailblazing athletes whose amazing stories might have gone unknown by many people. A League of Their Own also finds some direct ways to honor the real-life legends that inspired the movie.
During one scene, a woman in the stands makes a comment about Dottie being an exceptional player. This woman is the real-life Dottie Collins, according to her IMDb profile. Also, as fans see the older Hall of Fame inductees playing baseball during the closing credits — these are many of the real members of the league.
A Deleted Romance
Penny Marshall had to fight against a lot of pushback to make this film with some of the studio executives unwilling to give her the job, ironically, because she was a woman. She also got her share of studio notes, particularly in regard to the relationship between Dottie (Geena Davis) and Jimmy (Tom Hanks), noted Hidden Remote.
The studio wanted them to get together at the end, but Marshall felt a romance would distract from the baseball, which was the real focus of the story. Also, the studio felt Dottie should help Jimmy quit his heavy drinking, so Marshall compromised by having her give him a soda in one scene.
Even though the film is a light comedy and it takes liberties with the real story, Penny Marshall strived for authenticity with her actors as much as possible. In order to achieve this, Fresh Edits shared that she insisted that any actor cast as an athlete in the film needed to know how to play ball. There was nothing unrealistic about this movie.
She held auditions that also doubled as tryouts with the actors showing off their real baseball skills. In order to capture some genuine moments during the game sequences, Marshall would have the actors play unscripted innings and just let the camera roll.
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