A League Of Their Own Show True Story: How Much Is Real

2022’s A League of Their Own aims to provide a new angle to the story of the women who played for the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL), but how much of what is seen in the show is real? Although the show is a reboot of the 1992 movie of the same name, it tells a different story about the Rockford Peaches that features an all new cast of characters. Though 1992’s A League of Their Own gives glimpses into the real life fates of its characters, the 2022 show left the door open for a potential second season of the show, leaving what actually happens to the AAGPBL and the Rockford Peaches unclear at the end of the season.

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Amazon Prime Video’s A League of Their Own follows the inaugural season of the AAGPBL, centering around Carson Shaw as she begins playing with the Rockford Peaches. The Peaches have their ups and downs together, and the season sees the players resolve their differences both on and off the field, ultimately taking the team to the championships. The show also tells the story of Max Chapman, an aspiring pitcher who has difficulties getting her foot in the door when it comes to playing baseball due to her race. A League of Their Own provides a new side to the story initially told in the 1992 movie.

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Both Penny Marshall’s 1992 A League of Their Own movie and the 2022 reboot take inspiration from the same historical subject matter, but they ultimately tell two different stories. Amazon Prime Video’s take on A League of Their Own is just as charming as the original, but how much of it actually happened? Here is the true story of A League of Their Own, including the real people that inspired the characters, the true fates of the AAGPBL and the Rockford Peaches, and the biggest changes the show made.

Which A League Of Their Own Characters Are Based On Real Life

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All the characters who appear in A League of Their Own are original creations. However, several characters might be inspired by real life figures who were involved in the AAGPBL. Here is every character who might be related to a historical figure in the AAGPBL and who they were based on.

The character with the most prominent links to real life is Max Chapman. Showrunners Abbi Jacobson and Will Graham have confirmed that Max was based on three real women — Toni Stone, Mamie Johnson, and Connie Morgan — who all played baseball in the Negro Leagues. Their stories echo Max eventually playing on a men’s traveling team at the end of season 1.

Other characters in A League of Their Own also have likely historical inspirations. Jo DeLuca, a player for the Rockford Peaches who was traded because of her sexuality, bears much resemblance to Josephine “Jo Jo” D’Angelo, who played for the South Bend Blue Sox. However, while Jo was traded to another team in the show because of her sexuality, D’Angelo was ultimately released from the league for hers. Casey “Dove” Porter might have been based on Jimmie Foxx, a real life ballplayer and AAGPBL manager, who also served as the inspiration for the 1992 movie’s Jimmy Dugan. Despite inspiring both characters, Foxx is said to have been more gentlemanly with his team than either Porter or Dugan were.

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What Happened To The Rockford Peaches & The AAGPBL

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Since A League of Their Own is an ongoing show, it does not give much information regarding the real fates of the Rockford Peaches or the AAGPBL. The AAGPBL ran from 1943 to 1954, with the Rockford Peaches being one of the four original teams in the league. Despite having a rocky first season, the Rockford Peaches went on to become one of the most successful teams in the AAGPBL, winning four league championships, the most of any team in the league. The AAGPBL went through three periods of ownership, utilizing decentralized administration that saw every team in charge of its own marketing and administration from 1951-1954. Unfortunately, this period saw the league decline in popularity due to inconsistent marketing, leading to its end. After the AAGPBL ended, it was largely forgotten about by baseball historians and the public until the 1980s. 10 years later, Penny Marshall’s A League of Their Own released, bringing renewed attention to the stories of the AAGPBL and the Rockford Peaches.

How Much Of A League Of Their Own Is Real

Kate Berlant in A League of Their Own

Much of what is depicted about the AAGPBL in A League of Their Own is real. Each team was managed by men who were familiar with competitive athletics and had played professionally, which was done to lend legitimacy to the AAGPBL. The AAGPBL was also racially segregated, as depicted in the show, meaning players like Max would not have been able to play in the league. Just like in the show, the real AAGPBL was concerned with affirming the traditional femininity (and heteronormativity) of its players, including mandatory charm school and rules about their appearances. Every team was also assigned a chaperone to keep an eye on the women’s behavior, just like Beverly did in A League of Their Own. Although the depictions of same-sex relationships in A League of Their Own might seem like a modern addition to the show’s story, there is a rich history of LGBTQ+ players in the AAGPBL, with showrunner Graham saying the league was like “a party” for LGBTQ+ women in the league. (via The Hollywood Reporter)

A League Of Their Own's Biggest Changes From The True Story

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The biggest changes that A League of Their Own made from the real AAGPBL relate to the league’s rules. On the diamond, the show depicts the women playing with the same rules as men’s baseball, but in reality the baseball played in the AAGPBL was an amalgamation of baseball and softball. As a result, the league’s pitchers used an underhand windmill pitch similar to what is used in softball, with pitchers not being allowed to incorporate the overhand pitch seen in A League of Their Own until the 1948 season.

Off the field, there were much stricter consequences for not adhering to the Rules of Conduct, particularly concerning those related to appearance. The show sees Jess continually paying a fine to Beverly for wearing pants in public, and while a fine was one of the punishments the women faced for breaking the rules, repeated offenses would have resulted in suspension or even dismissal from the league. Another appearance-related rule that was frequently broken in A League of Their Own was that the women were expected to wear lipstick at all times, which is disregarded by many characters in the show with no consequence. The women also were not allowed to sport short haircuts, meaning Jo would have gotten in trouble much earlier in the series than she ultimately did.

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A League of Their Own depicted a meteoric rise to the top for the Rockford Peaches. In reality, the Peaches did not go to the championships during the AAGPBL’s inaugural season, with the 1943 winners being the Racine Belles as seen in the 1992 movie. However, the showrunners’ intention was not to tell the story of the AAGPBL, but rather, the authentic stories of the league’s players. Although not every detail is completely accurate in A League of Their Own, the show succeeded in showing the lives of the women who played in the AAGPBL, so their stories are not lost to history.

2022-08-14T00:33:10.000Z

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