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Story Notes for A League of Their Own

Monday through Thursday, at 8PM | 7C, AMC presents Story Notes — real-time on-air trivia about your favorite movies. Tonight’s movie was A League of Their Own.

Award Note
Tom Hanks and Pauline Brailsford got an MTV Movie Awards Best Kiss nomination.

Beauty Note
Former player “Pepper” Paire Davis said, “Did you know that ladies glow — they don`t sweat? We learned that in charm school.”

Biographical Notes
This isn’t David Strathairn’s first baseball movie. He starred in Eight Men Out in 1988.

League reunited Hanks and director Penny Marshall, who had worked together on Big. This was his first movie since the disappointing Bonfire of the Vanities.

Madonna began her career as a backup dancer and trained in ballet and modern dance.

Madonna was just four years away from winning the Best Actress Golden Globe Award for Evita.

Growing up, Geena Davis and Strathairn acted together at summer theater. Davis says, “He was the star.”

Bill Pullman and Davis knew each other from The Accidental Tourist, which won her an Oscar.

Before he became an actor, David L. Lander (the announcer) was a scout for the major leagues.

Lori Petty was the only girl on a boys’ team growing up.

Hanks and Pullman worked together again in Sleepless in Seattle.

Casting Notes
The announcer is Harry Shearer from The Simpsons and This Is Spinal Tap.

Petty was just coming off her breakthrough role, in Point Break.

Davis was cast at the last minute, after Debra Winger backed out. Davis was just coming off her Oscar-nominated performance in Thelma & Louise.

Jon Lovitz got his start on SNL and had a small role in Marshall’s hit Big.

The conductor is Marshall’s masseuse. He’s also been Alec Baldwin’s double.

Megan Cavanagh had never been oncamera before this movie. She learned to switch-hit for the role, something only 6 percent of major-league players do.

Marshall wanted to cast unknown actresses. This is Rosie O’Donnell’s first movie. Madonna was a huge star, but Marshall needed a dancer, so she cast her at the last minute.

Walter Harvey is played by Marshall’s brother, director Garry Marshall. He’s the first of five family members who appear in this movie.

Marshall cast Bitty Schram because of her voice. Schram later played Sharona Fleming on Monk, which earned her a Golden Globe nomination.

Brailsford also played Miss Cuthbert for the TV show A League of the Their Own.

Mae’s guy is Eddie Mekka, who was in Laverne & Shirley with Marshall.

The crowds were made up of extras from Indiana and people cutouts from The Babe.

Both Paul Newman and Christopher Walken were up for the role of Walter Harvey. At the last minute, Marshall called her brother, Garry, and told him to get on a plane.

Pullman filled the shoes of Bob as a favor to Marshall.

Fashion Note
In the 110-degree heat, the actresses wore authentic uniforms that were mostly wool.

History Notes
Walter Harvey is based on Phil Wrigley, owner of Wrigley and the Chicago Cubs.

The All-American Girls Professional Baseball League existed from 1943 to 1954.

The real league hired cosmetics mogul Helena Rubinstein to run a charm school for the players.

Most teams traveled by bus or train in the forties. The first team to start traveling by air on a regular basis was the New York Yankees, in 1946.

The attendance numbers were actually quite high the first season.

The man Strathairn’s character is based on bought the league and ran it until 1954.

According to former players, War Department messengers were always showing up.

Approximately 220 American servicemen died every day during World War II.

During the war, teams would form a “V” as a patriotic sign for victory.

The real Rockford Peaches actually had a losing record their first season.

The first league championship was between the Racine Belles and the Kenosha Comets, in 1943. Racine won in a five-game series.

Don’t worry. The Rockford Peaches won four championships in the twelve years the league existed.

The next season’s spring training began on May 14, 1944, in Peru, Illinois.

The baseball Hall of Fame opened an exhibit on women’s baseball on November 5, 1988.

During the summer of 1948, the league drew nearly a million fans.

The former players sing the official song of the All-American Girls baseball league. “Victory Song” was written by two players: “Pepper” Paire Davis and Nalda Bird Phillips.

Location Notes
Most of the movie was shot 380 miles from Rockford, Illinois, in Evansville, Indiana.

One scene was filmed in FitzGerald’s bar near Chicago. Filmmakers closed down the bar for three weeks to film the five-minute sequence.

Music Notes
“Flying Home,” written by Lionel Hampton, 1939.

“It Had to Be You” is also featured in Casablanca and Annie Hall.

Marshall says Oscar-winning composer Hans Zimmer didn’t know anything about baseball. But his score makes the World Series an incredibly exciting sequence.

Pop-Culture Notes
A League of Their Own is Sports Illustrated‘s thirteenth greatest sports movie of all time.

Before this movie came out, in 1992, few people were aware of women’s pro baseball. After seeing a documentary, Marshall knew it was a story she had to tell.

Hanks was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame the same week the movie premiered.

Quotation Notes
Petty says she relates to her character, Kit, because Petty was “new to moviemaking.” Petty says she was just trying to hold her own working with Oscar winner Davis.

On the set, Davis says, she wanted to take Petty “under my wing and be the big sister.”

People always ask Davis how she caught the ball. She says, “It’s the movies.”

Marshall says this is Hanks’s first role playing a “real character.” Hanks would go on to win his first Oscar, for Philadelphia, two years later.

Hanks says it was a male fantasy to “have all my teammates be a bunch of chicks.”

Petty says she’s proudest of the scene where she hit the ball and ran the bases perfectly.

Similarly, Marshall says this was the “best time she ever had working on a movie.”

Marshall says telling the story of women’s baseball is her greatest achievement, even greater than being the first woman to direct two $100 million movies (this one and Big).

Marshall says she’s proud that this story “gave girls heroines — someone to look up to.”

Script Notes
The screenwriters wrote the part of Ernie Capadino especially for Lovitz.

The screenwriters loosely based Jimmy Dugan on Hall of Famer Jimmie Foxx. He was named MVP three times and then went on to coach the Rockford Peaches.

The announcer is Lowell Ganz. He co-wrote the script with Babaloo Mandel. The team also wrote Splash, Parenthood, and City Slickers.

Ira Lowenstein is based on Chicago adman and entrepreneur Arthur Meyerhoff. He marketed Pam, the cooking spray, which stands for “product of Arthur Meyerhoff.”

The filmmakers reworked O’Donnell’s part to fit her personality. Doris was originally going to be another sexpot like Madonna’s character.

Set Notes
She may sound like Davis and look like Davis, but it’s not Davis: Lynn Cartwright plays the older Dottie Hinson. But it is Davis’s voice.

Davis hadn’t played a lot of baseball before filming. Along with the rest of the actresses, she went through months of training to get ready.

Lovitz was so into one scene that he didn’t notice a cow giving birth (off camera) while filming. The farm named the cow after Marshall.

The original cut of the movie was four and a half hours long, so the editor wanted to cut one scene. Marshall wouldn’t let it go, saying that the family moment “made the movie.”

Rosie was nervous about meeting Madonna, who had just starred in the documentary Madonna: Truth or Dare. Madonna and Rosie bonded quickly and remain good friends to this day.

To cast the movie, Marshall held baseball tryouts for 2,000 actresses. Even big stars were there because if you couldn’t play ball you couldn’t be in the movie.

Coaches used a Slip ‘n Slide to teach the actresses how to slide. The first three girls got concussions. They tried different training methods after that.

Some of the actresses trained for hours hours a day six days a week for seven months.

Hanks thought he was too young to be believable as Jimmy Dugan. But Marshall said Dugan wasn’t supposed to be old; he was just injured and washed-up.

Not even Hanks knew when he was going to be done “peeing.” Marshall was in a stall with a hose and a bucket making the noise.

Strathairn likes baseball so much he slept in his trailer so he could play in the mornings.

Davis can do a split but couldn’t fall into one. So a male double did it for her.

To get enough footage, Marshall had the girls play unscripted innings.

The studio wanted Jimmy and Dottie to get together. There was even a kiss at one point. But Marshall didn’t want to distract audiences with a love story, so it was cut.

The studio also wanted Dottie to save Jimmy from his drinking. So Marshall had her give him a soda.

Petty and O’Donnell were the two best players and had hitting competitions. Both could hit the fences at major-league parks.

During filming, Petty threw more than most MLB pitchers do in an entire season.

Marshall used real former players as well as actresses for scenes. She says it was important to have the real players help tell their own story.

The older actresses watched videotape of their counterparts to imitate their movements.

Sport Notes
A walk-off is any hit that drives home the game-ending run. The losing team then walks off the field.

A relief pitcher gets a save when she protects a lead. Betty gets the save.

The cutoff man is an infielder who catches a ball thrown from an outfielder and relays it home.

It’s against the rules to touch a player attempting a catch while falling into the dugout.

Trivia Notes
“There’s no crying in baseball” was named the 54th greatest film quotation of all time by AFI.

Hillary Clinton is a fan of this movie and quoted a line in a graduation speech.

Hanks gained 30 pounds for this role. Marshall told him to eat all the ice cream he could.

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