Amazon’s “A League of Their Own” blazes new trail for queer, black stories in Rockford

All eight episodes of the first season debuted on August 12
Published: Aug. 15, 2022 at 11:24 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - It’s been 30 years since Penny Marshall’s A League of Their Own hit theaters, and now a new version of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League’s story is back in the limelight. Amazon Prime Video launched eight episodes for the first season of a tv series of the same name on August 12.

For International Women’s Baseball Center Archivist Kate Haines, who uses the pronouns they/them, it’s still difficult for them to believe it’s real.

“This is something I didn’t think I’d ever see,” Haines said.

Haines was one of many to be consulted about the Amazon series ahead of its debut and is excited for a new generation of Rockford Peaches fans.

“I did not grow up in a world that did not have ‘A League of Their Own’ so I understand the importance of the stories that it brought but I don’t remember a world before then,” Haines said.

“In a lot of pop culture representation, they tell these stories that baseball is perceived as masculine and therefore we have to make the girls if we’re going to let them play be straight and white and gorgeous and that’s the only way that it’s going to be accepted and it’s just not reality,” Haines added.

The story tells a different story than the 1992 film. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, former AA-GPBL player Maybelle Blair shared her excitement about the 2022 version.

“I’m very happy with what they’ve done. It’s things that Penny Marshall couldn’t say in 1992,” Blair told the Times. “People weren’t ready for any of this, but it needed to be told because it is the truth. These are the things that I really appreciated.”

At the age of 95, Blair came out as a lesbian at the 2022 Tribeca Film Festival.

Haines said Blair’s story is crucial to the history of the league and to queer history as a whole.

“To have someone that’s 95 and go ‘yeah, this is my community, I’ve lived it my entire life,’ it makes our history visible,” Haines said.

“To have people that can still go ‘no, this is the relationships I’ve had these are the type of company that I keep and I’ve always been this way,’ is so important,” Haines added, “In a lot of ways it (queer history) tries to get pushed out and pushed away and we can speculate through these letters and the company that many historical figures took but unless they came out and outright said it, that’s all we’re doing is that we’re speculating.”

The show also highlights black history as well through the story of black pitcher Max Chapman played by Chanté Adams.

“The AA-GPBL didn’t allow black women to play and because of that black women played with the black men in the Negro Leagues and those stories are also important,” Haines said.

“Leading up to this telling of this story, these new stories that we’re going to get to see, I really think that we can see that shift again in queer stories, in black stories of just stories we don’t know,” Haines added.

On a personal level, for a queer person like Haines, the story is viewed as informative for younger folks.

“I know people that are like ‘oh I knew when I was 10 and I was supported’ and I was like ‘I didn’t know queer was a thing at 10, I was introduced to queer when I was 18′ and then I was like ‘oh, this explains so much,’” Haines said.

“And being able to see those intersections especially as somebody that has an interest in sports, and baseball specifically, I’ve studied women’s baseball, I’m a queer person myself so to be able to see those stories coming alive in a way…I’ve seen the first episode and I’m still wrapped my head around somebody’s actually making this ad they’re making it for us,” Haines said.

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