Amazon Prime Video’s ‘A League of Their Own’ follows the story of the women who play for an All-American women’s professional baseball league. Partially inspired by true events and sharing some similarities with the 1992 film, starring Geena Davis and Tom Hanks, the show uses its long-form structure to go deep into its characters’ personal and professional struggles. Keeping things as realistic as possible, it uncovers the challenges that women had to face to be taken seriously. Apart from Carson Shaw, Greta Gill and Max Chapman’s life becomes the focus of the series. If you’re wondering whether or not they are based on real people, then here’s what you should know.
Is Greta Gill Based on a Real Baseball Player?
No, Greta Gill is not based on a real person, but she is supposed to represent the many baseball players of that time who were queer but closeted. While talking on The Last Laugh podcast, Abbi Jacobson, the star and co-creator of the show, said that the series would focus on “queerness in a huge way”. While the show draws elements from the 1992 film of the same name, it expands upon the things that were not properly expanded in its source material, especially when it comes to LGBT and Black characters. “Believe it or not, a lot of the women who played baseball were queer! We’re not trying to ruin the movie. We’re just trying to explore a little bit more about what was really going on with these women and dive a little deeper,” Jacobson said.
For D’Arcy Carden, who plays the charming Greta, this role was refreshing and new as compared to her previous characters. Having played baseball in her younger years, she also found this role as the opportunity to live the dream of becoming a baseball player. In preparation for Greta, she looked at “cool actors’ performances.” “My little secret is that I was like, ‘This character is George Clooney.’ Greta’s cool. And she’s sexy, but she’s not trying too hard. How would a guy play her? I don’t know how to play ‘sexy woman.’ I know how to play ‘cool guy’,” she said. This allowed her a departure from her beloved role of Janet in ‘The Good Place’. “I was like, I think I have to do something like this in order to shake off every comment on my Instagram being, ‘not a girl!’,” Carden added.
Is Max Chapman Based on a Real Baseball Player?
Chanté Adams’ Max Chapman is a combination of three real baseball players: Mamie Johnson, Toni Stone, and Connie Morgan, all of whom went on to play in the Negro Leagues. Due to segregation, Black women were not allowed to play in the women’s baseball league at the time. The 1992 film acknowledges this with a scene where a Black woman exhibits her skills with a great throw, which also serves as the introduction of Chapman in the Amazon series.
While the film doesn’t take the issue of racism beyond that, the show carves a prominent storyline that solely focuses on Chapman’s journey. “Historically, the All American Girl’s League did not allow Black women to try out. It was really, like, a white-passing thing. So, what was their journey? That was such a fascinating story, to create a new character inspired by them and really follow her path to find her team, too. What does that look like?” said Abbi Jacobson.
For Adams, this was the opportunity to represent black women in sports and all of the struggles that they’ve had to face along the way. “There were Black women there that tried to get on those teams and couldn’t. And where did their stories go? To this day, there are only three women who have played professional baseball on a major-league level — and those three women are Black, but we don’t know their names. That is who Max is representing,” she said.
Apart from being a Black woman baseball player, Chapman is also queer, which adds to more complications in her personal life. She’s trying to figure out who she is and where she fits in, and with her journey, Adams hopes to inspire other people. “I hope people, especially people of color and queer people, are inspired not only by Max’s story but by all of the characters in A League of Their Own. Max is a person who has everything going against her when it comes to what she wants to do; there are so many obstacles in her way, but nothing’s going to stop her from going after her dream because she believes in herself. She understands that hearing no can wear you down, but if you keep trying you will get to the point when yes comes along,” she said.