Baseball movies: On rare occasions, the “boys of summer” are girls


Depending on where you live

and whether you pay attention to American baseball, you may be aware

that the Boston Red Sox will face the Colorado Rockies tonight in game

1 of the World

. I care

because I’m a Red Sox fan (of the intrepid variety — living in New York).

But, although I like baseball, I don’t like that’s it’s so exclusively

a boy sport.

For the most part, girls are

relegated to the separate, but unequal, realm of softball. (Before you

yell at me, I’m not denigrating softball or softball players. I’m just

saying that no one who isn’t directly connected to the sport pays attention

to it.) Of course, there is a history

of women playing baseball on a national scale

There were the league-less “bloomer girls” teams in the late 19th

and early 20th centuries, and the All-American Girls Baseball

League in the 1940s and ’50s. Additionally, a handful of women played

in the men’s Negro Leagues in the 1950s.

But still, baseball is about

the boys, both in real life and in entertainment. Occasionally in sitcoms,

you’ll get a fish-out-of-water premise of moms coaching baseball. Remember

when Mrs. Brady took over baseball and Mr. Brady had to cook with the

girls? (They both learned important lessons that day.) (I have, however,

heard that there was a great moment on Buffy when a slayer suddenly

got her powers while at bat.)

At the suggestion of a friend,

I thought I’d take a brief look at women-in-baseball movies. And my

look was brief because there ain’t much to see.

1. A League of

Their Own


This is the mother of all women-in-baseball

movies … because it’s the only movie that’s actually about women in

baseball. What’s good about this movie is that it features a lot of

women playing baseball — with tennis balls to minimize injuries. (I

saw a thing about that on TV once.) The actors had to undergo baseball

auditions and, except for Geena Davis, they all performed

their own stunts

Additionally, all of the injuries they displayed were real. The movie

also introduced the world to Megan Cavanaugh, whose character,

Marla Hooch, was inexplicably straight. (Megan can now be seen in Exes & Ohs.)

The downside is that not only

was Marla Hooch straight, everyone was straight. And so much of the

movie was about the redemption of Jimmy Dugan (Tom Hanks). Whatever.

2. The Bad News



This was pretty much the perfect

’70s movie. The good guys are about as flawed as they get: The children

swear. The coach is an alcoholic, who gives beer to children and it’s

kind of OK. The team we’re rooting for loses, but we cheer for them when

they throw their second-place trophy at the first-place team to the

strains of “Toreador” from Carmen.

And then there’s Tatum O’Neal.

She was only 12 or 13 when this was filmed, but she had already won an

Oscar for Paper Moon.

The boys balk about playing

with a girl, but Tatum’s character Amanda, along with bad boy Kelly Leek — Amanda uses her feminine

wiles to lure him onto the team — are the stars.

3. Bull Durham (1988)

Once we get into the realm

of Kevin Costner baseball movies, we know things are going downhill.

But it’s always pretty easy to watch Susan Sarandon, so it’s

still OK. It’s fair to call this a women-in-baseball movie because,

although Sarandon’s character is classified as a groupie, she does get

down-and-dirty when she teaches Tim Robbins about baseball. (And about life,

of course.) And then Kevin Costner teaches her about love.

The other good thing about

this movie is that this is where she and Tim Robbins met (I believe).

And they’re almost a lesbian couple, really.

4. Fever Pitch (2005)

Calling this a women-in-baseball

movie is a huge stretch. Workaholic Drew Barrymore

falls in love with goofy Jimmy Fallon. Puerile physical comedy

ensues. (It’s a Farrelly Brothers movie.) All goes well until his rabid

Red Sox fandom gets in the way.

I included this because of

an observation made by a close friend. What would make this an interesting

movie? A character switch. What if Drew were the Red Sox fan insteady of Jimmy?

Then it’s not the generic Peter Pan–syndrome movie; it’s a whole new

ball game. (I’m sorry. I know that was wrong.)

It’s not an unrealistic scenario.

Anyone at all familiar with Red Sox Nation knows that Red Sox fandom is not

exclusively a boy thing. And, as my friend pointed out, her fandom was

matrilineal, passed down from her maternal grandmother.

That’s really the best that

I can do. I thought about Amy Madigan in Field of Dreams,

but I didn’t want to write about another Kevin Costner movie. (Plus

I didn’t see it.) And there are some women in The Natural. Maybe.

Are there any great women-in-baseball

gems that I’m missing?

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