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“Baseball movies are for the girls”: Celebrating the 32nd Anniversary of A League of Their Own



On July 1st 1992, Penny Marshall’s film A League of Their Own hit theaters. The film follows the story of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL), which ran from 1945 to1954. During World War II, as men were drafted to serve, the Major Leagues feared collapse. To keep baseball alive, club owners called women to pick up their gloves and bats to keep baseball alive. The offical AAPGBL site recounts that the league gave over six hundred women the unforeseen opportunity to play professional baseball. 


Since its big-screen debut, the film has become one of the most iconic sports movies. In August 2022, Amazon Prime released a spin-off TV series of the beloved Rockford Peaches to keep the story alive for new generations of sports lovers. However, the original movie has always and always will capture people’s hearts.This was evident during the Women's College World Series when Penn Square Mall in Oklahoma showed the film every day. The theater charged $5 per ticket for all softball fans and players who turned out. 


As in the iconic final sequence of the film, The Ballpark at Jackson hosts an annual “Game of Their Own” to honor the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. Players on both teams maintain historical accuracy by adhering to the original game rules, uniforms, and acceptable bats from the old league. Players and staff also recreate iconic movie scenes throughout the game—let’s just hope no one brings a whiny toddler into the dugout. 


Jackson Ballpark’s “Game of Their Own” / courtesy of WBBJ TV


Clearly, the film has found a permanent place in the hearts of sports and movie lovers, even after 32 years. In both thoughtfulness and jest, fans have taken to Letterboxd, a popular film review app, to dote on the movie. The movie has scored a rating of 3.8/5 on the app—fairly high for the scorn of Letterboxd users. he top-liked reviews of the film speak volumes to its resonance with new audiences around the world:


  • “This movie proves that women make everything more watchable, including baseball.” - Gerri from New York, ⅘ stars


  • “Dottie: of course I support men’s rights…….men’s rights to shut the f-ck up.” - Justine from Canada, ⅘ stars


  • “Happy international women’s day to every woman but especially to Geena Davis.” - Katie from Scotland, 5/5 stars


  • “Women!!!!!! They do so many things!!!!!!” - Ella from London. ⅘ stars


  • “The Sandlot for girls.” - Kyler from Florida, 4.5/5 stars


  • “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, baseball movies are for the girls.” - Phoebe from Toronto, 4.5/5 stars.


The comments reveal a mix of baseball fans, non-baseball fans, and cinephiles who all found a stake in the film for largely the same reason: a compelling female-dominated cast. Fans like Gerri, who are disinterested in baseball, find the film “watchable” because of its female cast. On the other end, Phoebe expresses an interest in baseball, but comments that baseball films have always been “for the girls” anyhow—A League of Their Own is the first to finally play to its female audience.


Among multitudes of praise for the film, another review stuck out to me regarding how the movie was marketed on the Letterboxd app. Many promotional posters were created for the film, the most popular being the one pictured at the top of this article. However, on Letterboxd, the film is pictured using a shot of a woman’s legs:



The user ghostdinosaur left a 2.5 star review and wrote, “There’s a pretty weird dichotomy between the message of this movie and the poster Letterboxd is using to promote it.” Much to the user’s point, the film directly comments on the absurd uniforms women were expected to wear while they played in the League. For the sake of advertising to male audiences, the women had to play baseball in short skirts—leaving them to slide and dive around the ballpark with bare legs. 


As previously stated, more women are discovering the film and interacting online about their reactions and opinions. Now that the film has been out for 32 years and has already garnered a stable audience, why advertise it using a woman’s body?


That question is about as unanswerable as whether or not Dottie let Kit win the series. But what viewers can agree on is allowing A League of Their Own to reach new viewers today and continuing to foster women’s love of baseball.


 

Edited by Hadlea Lindstrom

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