In the summer of 1992 I was 7, turning 8 in August. I remember that when the movie A League of Their Own came out, I wanted to see it soooo bad - I was big into baseball in the early 90s, playing softball through our local park district in the summer, watching the Chicago Cubs on TV and collecting baseball cards (my favorite player was Cubs second baseman, Ryne Sandberg).
For those not familiar with the classic movie, A League of Their Own tells about the early days of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League in the 1940s, while the men were off fighting World War II. The story follows sisters Dottie and Kit - two small town Oregon farm girls who play baseball in their hometown. Older sister Dottie is back at home helping out while her husband is off at war and while she loves baseball, she enjoys playing just for fun, unlike younger sister Kit who lives and breathes the game. When an AAGPBL scout catches one of their games, he likes what he sees in Dottie's catching, but refuses to take pitcher Kit unless Dottie will go too.
The sisters tryout in Chicago with hundreds of other female hopefuls and baseball enthusiasts and both make the Rockford team, the Peaches, which is to be coached by former baseball Jimmy Dugan who is now a raging alcoholic. While Jimmy treats his job as a joke ("Girls can't play baseball..." "There's no crying in baseball!"), Dottie takes over, getting the team on track. The girls eventually win Jimmy over, as well as help get the league off the ground, as it had a rocky start with very little interest from sponsors and spectators.
Sibling rivalry starts to get in the way though, as Kit because of jealous of how much attention Dottie is getting. Also, Dottie's husband was injured in the war and comes home early. Dottie, never wanting baseball to be her life starts rethinking being on the team and part of the league.
Watching it on TV from time to time and occasionally on DVD, I'm actually surprised at how much went over my head as a little kid. While it is rated PG, there are some adult themes and some sexuality to it (for example, Madonna's character Mae is nicknamed "All the Way Mae", and we definitely see she isn't shy with the guys!). It also had an All-Star cast, starring Geena Davis, Tom Hanks, Lori Petty, Madonna, Rosie O'Donnell, Jon Lovitz, Bill Pullman, Ann Cusack and more, plus a brief appearance by Tea Leoni as Racine's first baseman.
I remember my aunt took me to go see it that summer, and despite it being over 2 hours long, I wasn't bored at all!
Also, not only was this film about girls playing baseball, but a large part of it takes place in my hometown, which made me love it even more!
Last month, the nearly destroyed Beyer Stadium - home of the Rockford Peachers - was finally restored and rededicated (some idiot decided to have it torn down around the time the movie came out).A group of 20 surviving members from the AAGPBL came out for the event, however, the woman that was portrayed by Geena Davis' character in the movie had died just weeks prior.
Here's the story that ran in our local news last month:
Home of the Rockford Peaches rededicatedIf you enjoy sports movies, movies based on true stories, historical movies or movies about underdogs coming out on top, be sure to check out A League of Their Own - it's got drama, comedy, history and sports!
By: Rebecca Klopf
ROCKFORD (WREX) - Years of hard work pay off almost two decades after the home of the legendary Rockford Peaches was destroyed. Beyer Stadium was not just the home of the Peaches, but it's also where hundreds of boys and girls grew up playing sports.
All of that history was torn down in 1992, but now it's alive once again and looking like it did in 1943 for future generations to use. The field now has a brand new baseball diamond, backstop, scoreboard, and flagpole.
A group of about 20 All AmericanGirls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL) players came out to see this very important event. The field they played on as either the home team or visitors was rededicated Saturday afternoon and the women were all given a chance to throw out a first pitch. One woman even did it pushing a walker and an oxygen tank. It's these women's commitment to the league and each other that drove volunteers like Greg Schwenke to become the cochair of the "Friends of Beyer Stadium" committee.
"The ladies have such a passion for something long past and that fueled my passion, and I thought, 'We have to get this done before we lose any more'," said Schwenke.
Sadly, during the 13 years it took to get the money for the stadium, quite a few Rockford Peaches were lost including Dorothy Kamenshek, who the inspired the lead character Dottie in the movie "A League of Their Own." She passed away just a few weeks ago.
Another player, Dottie Ferguson, died a few year ago, and her son came to make sure a piece of her history lives on.
"Mom and Dad were both really upset when the field was torn down in the first place, but it will be great to have this field now and have the memory," said Doug Key, Dottie Ferguson's son.
Then there others, like Peaches player Helen "Sis" Waddell Wyatt who wants to give children today a living history lesson. "When I was a kid we didn't have a park. We went down to some lot where the grass was up to here," said Wyatt, gesturing. She played for the Rockford Peaches from 1950 to 1951. "Kids don't know how lucky they are nowadays."
The changes that have been made to Beyer Stadium are only the first phase of improvements. The "Friends of Beyer Stadium" committee would like to add bleachers, sidewalks, and even a park for children in the neighborhood.
If you like to donate to help you can mail checks to the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois for the "Friends of Beyer Stadium" at 946 N.. Second St. Rockford, IL 61107.