A comedy film about an all-women baseball league in the 1940s isn’t your typical recipe for box office gold.
But when A League of Their Own landed in theaters in 1992 it quickly became a hit, and today it ranks among the best sports movies of all time.
Even if your family has been playing their VHS tape of this movie nonstop since it came out (like mine have) you’ll probably be surprised by these 11 facts about the film.
1. The extras in the Hall of Fame scene were actual AAGPBL players
When Dottie is touring the AAGPBL exhibit at Cooperstown, she’s surrounded by real players from the league.
The women were payed as much as $150 a week to play baseball during the ’40s and ’50s, which made most of them the breadwinner of their families.
2. Madonna was a bit of a prima donna
Go figure, but the material girl didn’t get along so well with the rest of the cast.
She made her thoughts about the filming experience pretty clear in a letter sent to her friend:
“I cannot suffer any more than I have in the past month, learning how to play baseball with a bunch of girls (yuk) in Chicago (double yuk). I have a tan, I’m dirty all day, and I hardly ever wear make up.”
She added that Geena Davis was “a Barbie Doll,” and that “when God decided where the beautiful men were going to live in the world, he did not choose Chicago.”
3. Jon Lovitz harassed a pregnant cow, and it made the final cut
When Ernie Capadino is trying to recruit Dottie, the dairy cows in the background are making a racket, and he tells them, “Will you shut up?!”
The line was an ad-lib by Lovitz, because one of the cows was actually distracting him. It turned out the animal was in labor during the scene. The calf was named “Penny,” after director Penny Marshall.
4. The actors had to pass a baseball test before their auditions
More than 2,000 actresses showed up for a casting call at the University of Southern California, but they had to prove their athletic skills before they even had a shot. The main cast worked just as hard…
5. The Peaches were put through the ringer
The actresses had baseball training eight hours a day, six days a week, for seven and a half months to look like real pros in the movie. Two of them even got concussions practicing their slides on a Slip and Slide.
Some of the actresses were almost good enough for the real majors:
- Geena Davis was a last minute replacement, but proved to be one of the best on the team in just a few weeks.
- Rosie O’Donnell grew up playing little league with her brothers, and could regularly knock a ball to the back of the park.
- Lori Petty was so fast she had to slow down in a scene with Geena Davis to look convincing.
Meanwhile, Madonna’s character was moved to third base because the singer had trouble catching ground balls.
6. The authenticity was brutal
The actresses wore real, old-fashioned wool uniforms in the blazing heat, playing for hours with antique mitts and no batting gloves.
The injuries you see on screen are all real too: Renee Coleman got a nasty bruise on her leg that lasted for more than a year.
7. Tom Hanks put on a puppet show
There were 1,700 extras playing fans in the stadiums, and they spent hours baking in the Indiana heat during the shoot. To keep them in good spirits, Tom Hanks held puppet shows behind the dugout and Rosie O’Donnell did stand up comedy.
There were even musical performances, including when the cast lip-synced to Madonna’s hits because she refused to perform them.
8. The pee scene was more complicated than you thought
To get the most out of Jimmy Dugan’s extended introduction, Tom Hanks and the Peaches were all kept out of the loop about how long the pee scene would take.
Director Penny Marshall was making the noise off-screen with a hose and bucket, while Hanks mimed his reaction. Dugan wound up peeing for 53 seconds.
9. There was a spin-off TV show
Yes, producers tried to capitalize on the movie’s success with a TV series that only lasted six short episodes in 1993. The fact that only the actresses playing Marla Hooch and Betty Spaghetti reprised their roles probably explains the audience’s lack of interest.
10. Dottie and Jimmy were meant to end up together
In the original, much longer draft of the movie, Jimmy and Dottie shared a kiss on the baseball field late at night. The scene where she tearfully tells Lowenstein she’s going home originally followed that scene.
11. The cast reunited for the film’s 25th anniversary
Geena Davis and Lori Petty were some of the few members to turn up for the special ceremony, which included actual Rockford Peaches players. Maybe Tom Hanks and Madonna were just busy that day.
Share this list with your friend who’s obsessed with the movie!