Created by Abbi Jacobson and Will Graham, Amazon Prime’s sports drama series ‘A League of Their Own’ revolves around the formation of the Rockford Peaches, a women’s baseball team based in Rockford, Illinois. It is created to compete in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. The series progresses through the challenges the team players face to establish themselves in a men’s world while some explore their sexuality.
In a parallel and at times intersecting narrative, the show also follows Max Chapman, who doesn’t even get allowed to try out for the Peaches since she is a Black woman. Set against the backdrop of the Second World War, the realistic period drama show captivates the viewers, making them curious about the real-life connections behind the show. Well, let us share our findings regarding the same!
Is A League of Their Own a True Story?
Yes, ‘A League of Their Own’ is partially based on a true story. The show is a part adaptation of the eponymous 1992 movie directed by Penny Marshall, who was inspired by the real All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL). The movie’s screenplay was written by Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel and based on a story by Kelly Candaele and Kim Wilson. Several characters in the film were partially based on real-life baseball figures and people involved with the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. Along with a considerable amount of fiction, the movie somewhat depicts the true history of the AAGPBL.
The Amazon Prime show is neither the remake of the movie nor does it follow the same characters. “[…] it’s [the show] going to be about the stories that were not able to be told, that Penny Marshall couldn’t tell in 1992 or just the ones that weren’t focused on,” Abbi told UPI about the show’s foundation. The co-creator was alluding to the queer history of the AAGPBL and how Black women were restricted from joining the teams. Abbi and Will’s show prominently explores how many players who played in the league identified as queer, and the segregation Black female baseball players faced.
Abbi and Will had to research heavily for the show and realized there’s a queer angle to the history of AAGPBL. “And so much of this show is rooted in research. But when we dove into the research, it – yeah, it was surprising. It was a significant amount of women were queer,” Abbi shared with NPR. “And while it was really important to show, you know, the danger of what it was like to be queer in 1943, we also really, really wanted to show the joy of being queer and the joy of finding other queer people in your queer community,” the co-creator added.
Rather than strictly conceiving the characters based on particular LGBTQ+ players, the two co-creators addressed the same in general through characters such as Carson Shaw and Greta Gill. However, it doesn’t mean those specific players didn’t inspire the characters. Molly Ephraim’s character, Maybelle Fox, is inspired by Maybelle Blair, who worked as a consultant for the show. “She [Blair] is ridiculously sassy, spunky, and spirited. I’m just trying to have an ounce of that,” Ephraim said about essaying Blair in the above-mentioned UPI interview. Moreover, Priscilla Delgado’s character Esti González is inspired by former Cuban-American player Isabel “Lefty” Álvarez.
Besides these two, Kelly McCormack’s character Jess McCready is partly based on former center fielder Faye Dancer. The actress was inspired by the Canadian players who played in the league to prepare for her character as well. Although any particular player doesn’t inspire Melanie Field’s Jo De Luca, the actress referred to several female baseball players to portray her character. Furthermore, even D’Arcy Carden talked to Maybelle Blair to portray her character Greta.
The show’s other significant story arc centers around Max Chapman, who is not allowed to try out for Rockford Peaches since she is a Black woman. Regardless, she pursues her ambition to be a baseball player in the Negro league. “Max’s character is inspired by three women – Toni Stone, Mamie “Peanut” Johnson, and Connie Morgan, who played in the Negro Leagues with men, and a number of other women as well,” Abbi added to NPR. Through Max’s character, the show depicts how AAGPBL shut its doors to Black women in real and how they still pursued and excelled in baseball.
Even though the show, like the film, centers around the real Rockford Peaches, it is not the depiction of the baseball team’s actual history. Still, Abbi and Will have skillfully blended reality and fiction to depict the truth behind AAGPBL and the untold stories of the players involved with the sport and those who couldn’t make it to the league.
Read More: Where is A League of Their Own Filmed?