It’s been 30 years since the initial release of A League of Their Own, and the announcement of a series reboot has brought the classic sports comedy back into the limelight. The film is a true tale of how essential it is to keep a sense of resilience and self-belief, and circumstance has made those themes all the more important to me. There’s a personal sentiment attached to the film for myself, but the lessons it has helped me learn can be transferred universally.
In 1992, A League of Their Own hit cinema screens across the world. At the time of this initial release, my mother was aged 24, and she fell in love with the film. It became an all-time favorite for her, and she watched over and over again as stars such as Madonna and Geena Davis shone in this homage to women’s baseball. We all have our comfort films, and this was hers. Unfortunately, in late 2000, my mother passed away aged just 32, leaving me behind aged 3. This was of course a massive blow to me, and came with a lot of denial. As I’ve grown older I’ve struggled to accept it, but the lessons taught by A League of Their Own made the reality easier to grasp. I’ve never known too much about my mother, but I do know that she loved this film, and it was this fact that has made the recent reboot announcement so bittersweet for me.
The announcement put the film, and therefore my memories of my mum, into the forefront of my mind. I had never watched the feature, and I never intended on doing so in fear of the emotions it would cause. But this was an opportunity. This was a chance for me to tackle this preconceived notion I had of the film causing upset. To this end, I recently watched the film for the first time. Aged 25, just a year older than my mother had been when she first watched it, I sat down and prepared myself for the emotions. What wasn’t a shock to me was the upset I felt, but I was surprised at how the film gave me a sense of reconnection. I realized why it had brought my mother so much joy 30 years ago, and now I can experience that same joy.
The sense of reconnection I felt flowed throughout the film, as its turbulence mirrored my own. There are many ups and downs throughout, leaving us laughing at one scene, and crying at the next. It was this that helped me find my mother’s presence inside me. The times I cried whilst watching, she would have cried. The times I laughed, she would have laughed. I finally had something that allowed me to understand her personality, and that’s a thought I will forever cherish.
The themes of A League of Their Own are perfectly encapsulated in Carole King‘s “Now and Forever” from the soundtrack, and the film’s tone is established as the bittersweet song plays. The lyrics focus on a love that has been lost, yet a determination to not become disconnected. We see numerous instances of this throughout the film. One of the most striking scenes comes when Betty (Tracy Reiner) receives a telegram informing her that husband has been killed in action. It’s a heartbreaking scene, but the camaraderie shown from the team’s members and coach Jimmy Dugan (Tom Hanks) is a prime example of the film’s ability to convey a determined attitude in response to adversity. Perseverance is one of the strongest themes, and is prevalent throughout. It’s highlighted further during the depiction of the World Series final. We see Kit (Lori Petty) come face to face with her sister Dottie (Davis) as she steps up to hit for the championship. Dottie informs her pitcher of Dottie’s inability to hit high and fast balls, and two strikes follow. Not letting this affect her strong mental attitude, Kit composes herself and ferociously hits the last ball. She refuses her coach’s orders of stopping on the third base and collides with her sister as she runs for home. Dottie drops the ball, and Kit wins the series for her team.
This example of pure determination is one that inspired me. I’ll never be stepping up in a World Series final, but the message is relatable to us all. It teaches me to stay strong, to keep fighting with the hand I’ve been dealt, and to overcome the loss of my mother. That’s my World Series final, and each and every one of use has our own. The odds may look stacked against us at times, but as the Rockford Peaches teach us, we should never give up. The Peaches don’t win the championship, but it’s not important to them, it’s the strength they showed throughout that’s the real win.
The true beauty behind the film is the colloquialism of the themes. They speak to us as viewers, allowing us to relate and empathize with the characters. We’ve all faced setbacks, rejections, and grief, but the film teaches us that it’s the way we deal with it that defines who we are.
A League of Their Own, through its inspiring characters who held themselves together no matter the adversity, is both uplifting and rejuvenating. The parallels are not always obvious given the unique situation the women were facing, but they can definitely be drawn. 30 years on since its release, the film continues to present optimism, teaching viewers how a setback should be interpreted as an opportunity. An opportunity to grow stronger, to expand our horizons, and ultimately, to never give up.
I will be forever grateful to the rejuvenation and reconnection this heartwarming comedy classic has given me. It forced me to confront my trauma, and made me a stronger person as a result. The feeling of having my mother back in my heart is one that will never leave, thanks to the uplifting and feel-good nature of the story.
As Carole King so beautifully put it, “Now and forever, I will always be with you”.