Amazon Prime’s series, A League of Their Own (2022), is a sports comedy-drama about the establishment of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL). If you’re wondering why the name sounds familiar, it’s because it was inspired by the 1992 film of the same name.
The series is set during the middle of the Second World War, making it a period piece. While accurate and having a cult following, it was ultimately cancelled by Amazon, something creator Abbi Jacobson spoke out about on social media.
All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL)
The All-American Girls Professional Baseball League was established in 1943 after most of the men who’d have been able to play in a league were away fighting in the war. There were a number of baseball executives who wanted to make sure the game stayed in the public eye, so they proposed establishing a women’s league.
A League of Their Own focuses on the Rockford Peaches, one of the teams formed in the early years of the AAGPBL. They were one of only two teams to play throughout the entirety of the AAGPBL’s existence, with the other being the South Bend Blue Sox. The uniforms in the show are also accurate to what the Rockford Peaches wore: a peach-colored dress with red socks and a red hat.
So the AAGPBL was real, but what about the women featured in the show?
Real stories of female baseball players
The women in A League of Their Own are largely based on real players. As in the series, the teams were made up of a variety of women – some from the United States, others recruited from Canada and Cuba.
In addition to this diversity, many of the stories portrayed in the show come from the real experiences of the women who played. The character Maxine “Max” Chapman (Chanté Adams) was based on three real-life women, according to the show’s producers; Toni Stone, Mamie Johnson and Connie Morgan all played baseball with the Negro Leagues and had stories very similar to Max’s.
There are other correlations, as well. Jo DeLuca (Melanie Field) was likely inspired by Josephine “Jo Jo” D’Angelo, while Casey “Dove” Porter (Nick Offerman) is a modern-day depiction of Jimmie Foxx.
Bigger themes within A League of Their Own
In addition to the historical connections between real-life players and its characters, A League of Their Own also portrays broader social themes in an accurate way. For example, it depicts race as a big part of All-American Girls Professional Baseball League players’ experience. The league was racially segregated for its duration, although a number of Latina women did play.
Some viewers might assume that the depictions of same-sex relationships in the show are a modern addition. Not so. Showrunner Will Graham reported that a former player told him “the league was like a party for lesbians.” Riese Bernard, co-founder and CEO of the LGBTQ site Autostraddle told NBC:
“A lot of reviewers seem to genuinely believe that there’s no way that many people on the team were queer, when there absolutely is. The show is a rich portrait of queer community and queer life during a time period when we don’t often get to see those stories told.”
The AAGPBL also wanted to ensure the players exhibited traditional femininity. This is why they were required to play in dresses, as well as wear makeup, both of which are depicted in A League of Their Own. As well, Beverly (Dale Dickey) acts as a chaperone to ensure the Peaches behave in an “appropriate way,” which was another part of the experience that accurately showed how the AAGPBL operated.
As with any Hollywood retelling, however, A League of Their Own is a dramatized retelling of a story – in this case, the creation and women of the AAGPBL. That doesn’t mean it’s devoid of historical accuracy. In fact, it’s a show that is heavily rooted in the real people and events associated with the league.
A series in limbo
On March 14, 2023, The Hollywood Reporter announced A League of Their Own would return for a second season, which was exciting news for fans! However, it would be the last and only consist of four episodes – half the episode count of the first season.
Later that day, however, Will Graham tweeted, “The stuff that came out today is a leak and it isn’t official, which is why we aren’t saying anything. So if you want to see more episodes or more seasons of this show, now is your moment. People are listening.”
Fans quickly started a social media campaign for more episodes, using the hashtags #ALeagueOfTheirOwn and #MoreThanFour. TV editor Nora Dominick tweeted, “It’s really heartbreaking that part of me is like ‘four final episodes of A League of Their Own, yay! closure’ because the bar is legit on the ground when it comes to LGBTQ+ and diverse TV shows getting even a second season…it shouldn’t be this hard.”
Amazon Prime Video cancels A League of Their Own
On August 18, 2023, it was announced that Prime Video wouldn’t actually be proceeding with the second season of A League of Their Own, with rumors circulating that the cause was the ongoing Writers Guild of America (WGA) and Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) strikes.
However, series creator Abbi Jacobson called out the claims in a post on Instagram, hinting that there was more to the story and praising the work she and the rest of the cast and crew did.
“To blame this cancellation on the strike, (which is an essential fight for fair wages, protections and working conditions, etc…) is b******t and cowardly,” she explained. “But this post isn’t about all that. About all the ways this show has been put through the ringer. Not today.
“This post here is about the special show I was lucky to make with so many incredibly talented artists and actors and writers and crew,” she continued. “A show I’m so proud of. Filled to the brim with stories worth telling. Full of so much heart and soul and value.”
Jacobson also called A League of Their Own “a rare thing in life.”