A League of Their Own is considered one of the best sports films of all time. The 1992 movie tells a fictionalized version of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL), which formed during World War II as a way to keep the game going while men were overseas. Here are some facts you might not have known about it.
Who better than Jon Lovitz?
There’s no one we can picture playing Ernie Capadino better than Jon Lovitz, and there’s a reason for that: the role was written specifically for him. The character’s personality plays perfectly into Lovitz’s comedic abilities, resulting in a standout performance.
Lovitz was supposed to have a larger role, but many of his scenes were cut. During a test screening, the filmmakers noticed the audience was laughing at his meanest and most obvious punchlines, so they decided to focus on those specific moments.
A rigorous audition process
The film’s stars had to undergo a rigorous audition process to secure their roles. Before they could show off their acting chops, they had to first pass the baseball portion of the audition. Only those skilled enough were allowed to read for director Penny Marshall.
Once selected, the actresses spent seven months in baseball training — eight hours a day, six days a week. This ensured they’d be able to perform their own stunts. The only time a stunt double was used was during the scene where Geena Davis’ character slides into home plate.
This is why Debra Winger dropped out
While Geena Davis put on an excellent performance as Dottie Hinson, she wasn’t initially slated for the role. Debra Winger was initially cast, but dropped out at the last second. Her reason for quitting has long been the subject of speculation, and we finally know why.
In an interview with The Telegraph, Winger revealed that Madonna‘s casting led to her decision. She felt it made the project “an Elvis film,” saying, “The studio agreed with me because it was the only time I ever collected a pay-or-play on my contract. In other words, I collected my pay even though I did not play, and that is very hard to get in a court.”
She also shared that she was not impressed with how the film turned out. She felt the actors hadn’t completed enough training for them to look convincing and that it didn’t honor the legacy of the AAGPBL.
Entertaining the extras
To make the baseball scenes look as authentic as possible, director Penny Marshall hired hundreds of extras to fill the stands. They were largely unpaid and had to sit for hours in extreme heat, so it’s not surprising that they were pretty miserable.
Thankfully, members of the cast took it upon themselves to keep everyone entertained. Tom Hanks reportedly put on puppet shows, while Rosie O’Donnell performed stand-up comedy. When Madonna refused to perform, other actors sang her songs, much to everyone’s enjoyment.
Speaking of extras…
If you look closely enough, you’ll notice the extras during the Hall of Fame scene are actual players from the AAGPBL. Dolores “Pickles” Dries, pitcher for the Rockford Peaches from 1952 to 1954, also made an appearance during the Cooperstown scene. She’s the woman who calls Dottie “the best player in the league.”
Many of the league’s original members acted as consultants for the film, offering advice, anecdotes, and information.
There’s nothing more authentic than the real thing, so it’s no surprise the bruises and scrapes the girls sported throughout the film were real. That includes the especially gruesome one Renée Coleman’s character, Alice Gaspar, suffers.
The bruises came about while the actresses were performing. Since they didn’t have stunt doubles, they played in every baseball game and got a little banged up in the process. It’s said Anne Ramsey even broke her nose when trying to catch the ball.
Rosie O’Donnell is Doris Murphy
Jon Lovitz wasn’t the only actor to have a role written for them — Rosie O’Donnell was also given the honor. She’d auditioned for the role of Marla Hooch, but lost out to Megan Cavanagh. This was unexpected, as it was presumed O’Donnell would be chosen.
The crew still wanted O’Donnell involved, so they created the character of Doris Murphy. The role turned out to be perfect, as it allowed her to not only show off her comedic genius, but also bring her larger-than-life energy to the cast.
A League of Their Own doesn’t just showcase the journey of Dottie Hinson and her teammates. Before being cast in the film, Geena Davis never considered herself the sporty type, but less than a decade later, she tried out for the 2000 U.S. Olympic Team.
Davis was self-conscious about her height and therefore never pursued sports growing up. A League of Their Own showed her how capable she was as an athlete, and it aided in her decision to try professional archery.
After years of practice, she decided to compete for a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team. While she didn’t succeed, she did place 24th out of 300 women — quite an accomplishment!
It’s not uncommon for unexpected things to occur during filming, but it’s rare that one of those things is the birth of a baby. That’s exactly what happened while Jon Lovitz was filming the barn scene with Geena Davis and Lori Petty.
While the trio was filming the scene, one of the cows gave birth to a calf off-screen. The baby was later called “Penny,” after director Penny Marshall, but that’s not the best bit. According to those present, Lovitz was so into the scene that he didn’t even notice what was happening!
A League of Their Own made history upon its release in 1992. It was an overwhelming success at the box office, bringing in over $132 million. This made it the first movie directed by a woman to gross over $100 million while in theatres.
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The film was added to the National Film Registry in December 2012, and the famous Jim Dugan quote – “There’s no crying in baseball!” – was ranked 54th on the American Film Institute’s 2005 list, 100 Years… 100 Movie Quotes.