Two Generations of ‘A League of Their Own’ Stars Celebrate Film’s 30th Anniversary: “Seeing A Girl Play Sports Was Pretty Eye-Opening”

Thirty years later, Penny Marshall’s groundbreaking A League of Their Own is still making an impact. And while there’s no crying in baseball, there was certainly laughing, dancing and several cheers on Saturday evening at Cinespia’s showing of the baseball classic at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

Fans, many dressed in Rockford Peaches uniforms, celebrated the film’s 30th anniversary at the sold-out event, where star Geena Davis took the stage for a Q&A alongside Abbi Jacobson, D’Arcy Carden and Chanté Adams, who star in Amazon’s upcoming series adaptation of the movie.

Led by co-creators Jacobson and Will Graham, Amazon’s A League of Their Own reimagines the original 1992 film with new characters and a new plot, but follows the same vein as the original, based on the formation of a women’s baseball league in 1943.

“They don’t do the same story because we did that,” Davis told The Hollywood Reporter. “I was excited to see a different take on it and [how they] add new elements.” Davis starred in the film as the iconic Dottie Hinson — tall and beautiful, but also wickedly skilled on the ball field.

“There weren’t really that many female sports movies at all that had ever come out, so we didn’t know how people would respond,” Davis remembered of the film’s release. “It was kind of overwhelming how much people loved it. Over the 30 years, I’ve had so many women and girls come up and say, ‘I play sports because of that movie.’”

But despite the massive impact that the film had on young women across the country, the film didn’t do much to change the industry.

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“It’s interesting because all the press announced that ‘This is gonna change everything, there’s gonna be so many female sports movies. This is going to really be a revolution and now we’ve proven that a movie starring women can be a giant hit.’ And so we’re like, ‘Great, let’s see that happen!’ And nothing,” Davis said. “It did not change anything. In fact, when was the next female sports movie that came out? It didn’t cause a new wave of anything. So that was very disappointing. In general, the progress for movies about women, starring women, directed by women, the progress has been much too slow.”

While gender representation on- and off-screen continues to grow, Davis agrees that “we have a ways to go, but it’s definitely getting better.”

Enter the upcoming Amazon reimagining. While the reboot deals with similar themes and stories as its inspiration, it expands upon those deeper elements in a way that will allow for a more 360-view of its characters.

“What I remember is when I saw a Black woman on the screen,” said Adams, referencing the film’s scene in which a Black woman picks up a foul ball and throws it to Dottie’s character. It’s a nod to the fact that baseball was still segregated at the time, but the Black character is not seen again for the rest of the film. “That was jarring for me in a way because I didn’t really get to see myself a whole lot [on-screen]. I remember that scene in A League of Their Own — she looks like me and being excited [about that], and then being sad because we didn’t follow her. Where is she?”

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The Amazon show will explore those untold stories. As a TV show with hour-long episodes, the adaptation will dive into themes of sexuality, queerness, race, representation, sisterhood and more.

Carden remembers seeing A League of Their Own in theaters for the first time. “I’d seen a lot of sports movies — especially in the ‘80s, ‘90s, there were so many sports films, but there was never a girl,” she said. “Definitely never like a girl-centric sports movie at all. So seeing a girl play sports was pretty eye-opening for me. Pretty huge and formative, and it was a big moment for me.”

Prior to making the show, Jacobson and the creative team made sure to get Marshall and Davis’ blessing. “It was so important for us to tell them, ‘We love the movie so much. We grew up on it. And we’re not we’re not trying to remake it. We’re not intending to do any of the same characters. We are really doing this reimagining,’ and just letting them know how much [we] loved it,” Jacobson explained.

“The pressure is on for sure,” added Adams of bringing back a classic. “But the excitement is more overriding that for me because being young and being able to see that Black girl, and then being sad because we didn’t follow her — this time we do. So now all the little Black girls that look like me will see me on screen and be happy that this character is somebody that they relate to and who’s representing them.”

A League of Their Own premieres on Prime Video on Friday.

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