Is ‘A League of Their Own’ Based on a True Story? Truth About the Film’s Plot and Characters
With a cast full of huge Hollywood names, A League of Their Own has remained a cult classic since its 1992 release. Geena Davis’ Dottie Hinson led the Rockford Peaches to the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League World Series against her younger sister, Kit Keller, in an epic showdown with a photo finish. More than three decades after the captivating comedy-drama was released, many have wondered if the film was based on a true story. Keep scrolling to find out.
Is ‘A League of Their Own’ Based on a True Story?
Several aspects of the Penny Marshall-directed film were based on real events, however, some of the characters and their quirks were works of fiction. The All-American Girls Professional Baseball League was a real-life professional women’s baseball division that began in 1943. Much of the plot of the film came from the mind of Kelly Candaele, whose mom, Helen Candaele, played in the league with her sister, Margaret, beginning in 1944. The Candaele sisters grew up in Canada and were the first siblings to ever compete in the AAGPBL.
Kelly first teamed up with Kim Wilson to make a 1987 documentary about the AAGPBL titled A League of Their Own after hearing his mom’s fond memories of her time in the league. After combing through archived footage, they put together a moving piece for PBS that caught the attention of Penny, who wanted to turn the documentary into a movie.
After coming up with a script that perfectly incorporated funny and heartfelt moments, Tom Hanks, Rosie O’Donnell and Madonna joined the cast in supporting roles. For Kelly, turning the documentary into a film was all about honoring the real-life women who pushed boundaries, and showed resilience and athleticism in the league with his mom decades ago.
“These women were characters, personalities, bigger than Madonna and Geena Davis and Rosie O’Donnell, though Rosie O’Donnell is a pretty big personality,” he told MLB.com in July 2022. “They were gregarious and loved the game, and were thoughtful and knew about baseball, loved talking about it. So that was the greatest thing about it, just finding all these women together, 100 women who played baseball and just were great athletes. And loved to tell their story.”
What Parts of ‘A League of Their Own’ Were Real?
The AAGPBL was founded by chewing gum manufacturer Philip K. Wrigley. In the movie, Garry Marshall’s character, candy bar mogul Walter Harvey, who persuaded MLB owners to fund a women’s league, was based on Wrigley.
Dottie and Kit ended up on the Rockford Peaches after tryouts, which was an actual team in the World War II era league. The team was widely successful, winning four championships until the league’s final season in 1954. The Racine Bells, the team Kit got traded to mid-season, was also a real team.
Former player Jeneane “Jeanie” Lesko once opened up about what the film’s director and producers got right in terms of how the teams lived, earned their spots in the league and attended charm school.
“It was very accurate, except for the way [the women in the film] treated the chaperones, which wasn’t very nicely,” she said during a July 2017 interview with ABC News. “Of course, the gals did pull tricks on them, put salt in their beds and other stuff, but it was all in fun. They weren’t making fun of them or anything.”
In August 2022, Amazon Prime released A League of Their Own series with new storylines and characters. The show stars Abbi Jacobson, Chanté Adams, D’Arcy Carden and Gbemisola Ikumelo.