Baseball is not for women – or is it? | Movies | DW

Women have no place in baseball – this prejudice is fought against by the likes of Abbi Jacobson and Roberta Colindrez (“The Deuce”) in the new Amazon Prime series “A League of Their Own”. It is based on true events: when the majority of American baseball players were fighting the Germans in World War II in the fall of 1942, there was a shortage of good players at home. The league loses. Philipp K. Wrigley, the chewing gum mogul who owns the Chicago Cubs men’s baseball team, got the idea to recruit women to the sport, which is particularly popular in the USA. In 1943, the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League was founded. After a rather bumpy start, the league is on its way to success: in 1948, more than 900,000 spectators watched the games of 15 teams.

The cult movie “My Class” serves as a model

Director Penny Marshall took up the story of American baseball women already in 1992: “A Class of Their Own” tells in a touching and funny way how baseball players in the mid-1940s played their way through initially very skeptical fans. The background story is closely related to the various fates of the players, all of whom rub shoulders with the narrow social conventions of the time. Among others, Geena Davis, Lori Petty, Rosie O’Donnell and Madonna slip into the roles of players. The latter also contributed to the film’s title track with the song “This Used to Be My Playground”. Tom Hanks plays drunken ex-pro Jimmy Dugan, who is supposed to coach the women’s team of the “Rockford Peaches.” The movie was very successful in the 90s. Since then, Penny Marshall has been hailed by critics as a trailblazer who paved the way for other female directors in Hollywood.

In this movie, Tom Hanks shouts instructions to his team.  Geena Davis stands smiling.

At first skeptical, soon fully committed: Tom Hanks slips into the role of trainer Jimmy Dugan. He gets support from Catcher’s Geena Davis (r.)

According to the creators, the new Amazon Prime series is not a classic remake. “A League of Their Own” offers a “fresh approach” and introduces new characters. The subject should not only be about the gender inequality that existed at the time, but also racism and homophobia – both topics that did not find a place in the 1992 original.

95-year-old former player Maybelle “Mae” Blair, who had played in the “All-American Girls Professional Baseball League” since 1948, was brought on board as an advisor. At a promotional event earlier this year, Blair unexpectedly announced she was coming out. “I’ve been in hiding for 75, 85 years. This is actually the first time I’m coming out,” he said in a video shared by the show’s crew on Instagram.

Blair’s personal experiences have inspired the story of the series. Among other things, “A League of Their Own” is said to feature an African-American player who is transgender. During Blair’s time, being open about one’s sexuality was taboo. Female athletes who were open about their homosexuality, such as tennis legend Billie Jean King (see photo gallery), were attacked.

A belated recognition of the pioneers of women’s baseball

In the 1950s, baseball was considered unfeminine, which eventually led to the league’s decline in popularity. In 1954 it was abolished. It wasn’t until more than 40 years later that the baseball pioneers were belatedly recognized when they were inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Nevertheless, true equality cannot be a question even today. In addition to the fact that women are not allowed to play, they have to settle for a significantly lower salary. Research shows that athletes in the United States have the largest gender pay gap.

It is unclear if this topic will also be covered in the new Amazon Prime series. In any case, before the international start on August 12, 2022, almost no details were leaked about the content. So it remains exciting.

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