TBT: A League of Their Own (1992)

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Am I the last American female who had not seen A League of Their Own (1992)? Somehow I missed it when it was in theaters — maybe I thought “baseball, bleh” even though it stars a ton of actors I enjoy, like Geena Davis, Rosie O’Donnell, Tom Hanks, Lori Petty, even Madonna. And locally, friends have recreated the Rockford Peaches uniforms and the Greater Bay Area Costumers’ Guild held a League of Their Own picnicWell, I finally caught up with the movie on cable, and yes, it is adorable and just the girl-power boost I needed.

A League of Their Own (1992)

This is a rare story about women that doesn’t revolve around women wanting to get married or women having sex with other women’s men partners. Instead, it’s about women’s skills, ambitions, and place in the world, and women’s relationships with other women. As Geena Davis said in an interview with ESPN about this film:

“I have always sought characters that got to do interesting things, from a selfish point of view as an actor. I didn’t want to just be the girlfriend of the person who is having all the interesting things happen. And this is the ultimate example of that. I bring it up when I give speeches because I say, “I would rather play the baseball player than the girlfriend of the baseball player.” And I’m lucky that I’ve had the opportunity to do that.”

A League of Their Own (1992)

The central relationship is between the two sisters, Dottie (Geena Davis) and Kit (Lori Petty), but other women have strong subplots. Throughout the film, relevant, if subtle, points made about the gender wage gap, childcare burdens, and other women’s rights issues. It’s by no means a preachy movie, but simply by pointing out how much women can do when we are allowed, the message comes through. Plus, the dialog is funny, the plot is snappy, and all the actors are enjoyable to watch.

A League of Their Own (1992)

The main male character, team manager Jimmy Dugan (Tom Hanks), is by turns ridiculous and incompetent, although later sympathetic. But he’s not anyone’s love interest. The only real romantic storyline is for the least-likely woman or is about relationships referred to off-screen.

Costume-wise, it’s all about that uniform, sure. Though I have to say, I most enjoyed a look at all the individual team uniforms the girls wore to try-outs where they wore more practical knickers. Those uniforms also showed the different color combos and logos from each person’s hometown to reinforce the idea that everyone was coming from around America. Nice touch. While the characters in the movie are fictional, but designer Cynthia Flynt recreated the exact uniforms for the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League to give an air of authenticity.

Rockford Peaches, 1943-1954

Rockford Peaches, 1943-1954, from the Rockford Register Star

Rockford Peaches uniform, 1943-1954

Rockford Peaches uniform worn by Dottie Key from 1943-1954, displayed at the National Baseball Hall of Fame

Rockford Peaches, 1943

Rockford Peaches, 1943, from the National Baseball Hall of Fame

A League of Their Own (1992)

Geena Davis sports the full Rockford Peaches uniform, plus catcher’s gear.

A League of Their Own (1992)

Madonna looking cheeky in her sports kit.

A League of Their Own (1992)

Rosie O’Donnell in uniform with a busted knee.

All the actresses were cast, not just for acting skill, but for baseball ability. They had to be able to throw and hit the ball, and they all did their own running and sliding. Even some of the injuries were real, as Anne Ramsay who played Helen Haley, told ESPN:

“I broke my nose during practice leading up to filming. It was the first day that we switched from modern-day mitts to authentic, vintage mitts from the ’40s. The mitts were restored a little bit, but they were the original deals. We were in Chicago, the coach throws me the ball … and maybe the fourth time he threw it, it just slips and hits me. It breaks my nose.”

It wasn’t all uniforms and rough going though. The ‘civilian’ clothes beautifully fill out the background, and the costume designer used quite a bit of vintage garments to add authenticity.

A League of Their Own (1992)

Love all the hats on the crowds, so appropriate!

The players at ‘charm school,’ which really was required.

A League of Their Own (1992)

Kit may be the ignored little sister, but she has a fancier dress and shoes.

A League of Their Own (1992)

Madonna in a cone bra, act surprised!

A League of Their Own (1992)

That tropical print though is very ’40s.

 

OK, since everyone else saw this movie already, chide me for having just caught up!

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About the author

Trystan L. Bass

Twitter Website

A self-described ElderGoth, Trystan has been haunting the internet since the early 1990s. Always passionate about costume, from everyday office wear to outrageous twisted historical creations, she has maintained some of the earliest online costuming-focused resources on the web. Her costuming adventures are chronicled on her website, TrystanCraft. She also ran a popular fashion blog, This Is CorpGoth, dedicated to her “office drag.”

12 Responses

  1. Saraquill

    I caught this on TV many years ago. The first scene that comes to mind is someone taking a feather duster to a player’s skinned thigh to make it look nicer for the photographer. Shame the period uniforms didn’t provide enough leg protection.

    Reply
  2. India Edghill

    Don’t fret, I still haven’t seen it, despite the amazing cast because, um , baseball. I still havent see PRIDE OF THE YANKEES either, despite Gary Cooper, for the same reason. But I may have to see LEAGUE at long last based on this review. You’re a great advocate for it!

    Reply
  3. Lynn Anderson

    It’s a wonderful film – one of my favorites! I’m so glad you finally had the chance to see and review it! The wardrobe was spot-on for WWII, and I love the attention to detail, including the period-correct accessories and undergarments. Plus the script, the music, the filming locations, the cars, even the tour bus, all worked together to tell a great story and transport you back to that era. I was most impressed with the older women they found to play the stars’ counterparts in the current day – they looked so much like them, you wonder how they did that! No corners were cut in this production, and for that, we can thank director Penny Marshall – she’s one of the best!

    Reply
  4. carolyn

    I haven’t seen it either and I love baseball…was at the Phillies game last night! My husband saw it in the theater while I stayed home with our sick daughter. Guess I should have made him stay home with her and I should have gone!

    Reply
  5. Frannie Germeshausen

    I adore baseball, and this is my favorite baseball movie hands down. In the Hall of Fame, they have a whole room for the real League, with the original and movie unis side by side. Thank you for profiling it!

    Reply
  6. M

    I love this movie! I saw it many times on video as a teen. The writing, acting and production were all top notch. As an adult I appreciate that the women are important just for themselves.

    Reply
  7. Bronwyn M Benson

    Basically the only sports movie I like, and I love it. It’s such a good story. <3

    Reply
  8. Susan Pola Staples

    I also am a fan of this film. I remember how great the comaraderie between the actors was in this film. And besides the baseball, I admired how Ms Marshall wove the different subplots – working women, women’s response to wanting to do ‘their bit’ during the war, and what it takes to play major league ball. This and Bull Durham are my favourite baseball films.
    When will they make biopics on more female athletes? Olympic Gold Medalist in figure skating Dr Tenley Allbright and Olympic Bronze Medalist Dr Debi Thomas come to mind.

    Reply
    • Skippy

      You could try The Mighty Macs, about a tiny Catholic women’s college outside Philly winning the NCAA tournament in the 70s. They have skirt uniforms, too. ;) The movie is … predictable, but still feel-good.

      Reply
  9. Nzie

    It’s a great film—genuinely enjoyable watch not in spite of the ideas/messages. :-) I’ve been thinking about making an outfit modeled on their uniform but to cheer my MLB team (so, maybe with pennants for the skirt, or something).

    Reply

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