Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A League of Their Own

This movie was on television twice tonight. It may be the most nostalgic movie ever made. It instantly brings me back to the summer when I watched it at least once a day. I was thirteen. I never played baseball or softball, so I can't imagine the sort of memories that would surface for someone who actually knew what it was like to be on a team--let alone, one of the women that was a member of the AAGPBL in 1943.

Instead this movie reminds me of how I actually wanted to be an athlete. This was much different than my desire to play roller derby after I watched "Whip It" for the first time. This was determination. I had it set in my mind that I would be number 8 and a catcher...just like Dottie Henson (Geena Davis' character, of course). I was alright when I'd play whiffle ball with my cousins in my grandma's backyard. (They may beg to differ), but I had a pretty good eye for the ball, and could hit for a lefty.

So, I had my mind made up. I was going to play soft ball once school started. Someone must have put the thought into my head that I would have to build up the calluses on my hands so I could catch a baseball bare handed. After all, Dottie Henson and Kit Keller had strong hands from milking all those cows. ("Did you tell the cows you'd write?") So, that settled it. I was going to work on catching without a glove. I gave the baseball to my brother and walked 20 paces away from him like a good ol' fashion western draw. Sans glove. He wound up and pitched that sucker. I expected my reflexes to kick in. We were about to recreate that infamous scene when Rosie O' Donnell whips the ball at Geena Davis' head during tryouts and she impresses everyone by catching it. Yep, it was just like that.

Except I didn't catch it...and my little brother who was in little league and quite the little athlete, was able to pitch it directly to me, hitting me square in the chest. It knocked the wind out of me and I laid on the sidewalk unable to move, staring blankly at the sky, preparing to leave this world.

You'd think that'd be the end of me. Instead, I marched inside the house and grabbed the tennis balls.

Of course, once school started, I went a different route (music), but I will always love this movie. I even cried when I saw this uniform at Planet Hollywood in Florida. I had no idea it would be there. The bartender was concerned as to why someone would get emotional over this.

But let me tell you...this movie taught me so much. How to walk "gracefully and grandly, gracefully and grandly.", how to stand up straight (I definitely walked around with a book on my head that summer), to sit with my "legs always together--remember a lady reveals nothing." It taught me about friendship and how to be a good sport even if I never played on a team. I studied the process of this film and how the story was told. The colours that were used, the composition, the comedic timing. I absorbed the way the music swelled and set the tone. How "Now & Forever" by Carole King could be timeless and transport us to 1943. And who can listen to "This Used to Be My Playground" and feel numb. The combination of their youth in black and white, Madonna's voice, and an eery synthesizer will always make tears flood my eyes. This movie made me love historical films. It may even be the epitome of period films for me.
Of course everyone always quotes the "There's no crying in baseball" line, which is great. Don't get me wrong here...There's something so great about that entire scene. And Tom Hank's delivery is brilliant, but I've always been a fan of the schpeel when he talks about his parents driving down from Michigan to see him play the game. "And did I cry??!?! NA! NA! Why?"...You know the rest. There are so many other little gems in this film though, to name a few:
"Has anyone seen my new red hat?"
Kid: Will you sign my baseball? WOW! 'Avoid the clap. - Jimmie Dugan'
Jimmy: That's good advice!
"Why am I the only person on this bus?"
"Oh, let's not go to the World Series without Stilwell's toys!"
"EVELYN. EVELYN! I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to KILL YOUR SON!"
Kit:  'Here's our daughter Dottie, and here's our other daughter, Dottie's sister.' They should have just had you and bought a dog.
Dottie: Mitch Swaley likes you.
Kit: Mitch Swaley is one step up from dating a pig!
Dottie: But an important step.
"Hey, dollbody, why don't we slip into the back and you make a man out of me?"-12 year old kid who drives Dottie to the Suds Bucket
"Let's make like a bread truck and haul buns!"

The brunt of memorable quotes are delivered by Jon Lovitz who plays Ernie Capidino--a baseball scout.

"Sit here and I'll go see if I can dig up a pistol. I've always got to sit next to one of these guys. I'm just too friendly."
"Cow girls, see the grass? Don't eat it."
"Get these wild animals away from me! Haven't you ever heard of a leash!"
"See how it works is, the train moves, not the station."
But I still love Tom Hank's maniacal banter.

Betty Spaghetti: Lou quit.
Jimmy: WHO'S LOU?!?!?

"We're gonna win. We're GUNNA WIN!"

"You're gonna lose-you stink." (We used to rewind this part over and over- you know when he hits Stilwell in the face with the glove. The VHS is fuzzy at that part now.) 
There are so many more great quotes and or even terrible quotes that I like to say anyways.

I used to search for this magazine in antique shops and then have to remind my self that it never existed. It would be really cool to find what it was inspired by. Or even if you could get the prop from the movie. It's such a great cover and symbolizes a turning point for the league.
I couldn't play ball, but I figured out how to sing the song written by Pepper Paire and Nalda Bird

Batter up! Hear that call!
The time has come for one and all
To play ball.

We are the members of the All-American League
We come from cities near and far
We’ve got Canadians, Irishmen and Swedes,
We’re all for one, we’re one for all
We’re all Americans!!

Each girl stands, her head so proudly high,
Her motto ‘Do or Die’
She’s not the one to use or need an alibi.
Our chaperones are not too soft,
They’re not too tough,
Our managers are on the ball.
We’ve got a president who really knows his stuff,
We’re all for one, we’re one for all,
We’re All-Americans!

And I sure sang my share of "The Star Spangled Banner" to last a lifetime.

When things aren't looking up it helps to be reminded of the scene when Dottie is going to give up and drive back to Oregon with the excuse, "It just got too hard.". And Jimmy Dugan responds with, "It's the hard that makes it good. If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it." . That line has gotten me back on my feet a couple times.
Here's a hint for those family members who read my blog --who SHOULD be reading my blog. This would be a great birthday present. You can click on the hat. It will link you to the site where purchases can be made.. ;)

And remember "Lay off of those high ones!".

The black and white photographs belong to Columbia Pictures Corporation and are mostly from I did not take them, as I was in 1st grade when this movie was filmed. 

1 comment:

  1. Jana-
    I believe this may be my favorite blog to date. It evoked so many emotions from me! You captured everything that I love (and many others) so much about this movie that I couldn't put into words.
    What a great story about you practicing and wanting to play! And crying when you saw the uniform and the bartender!
    I want to go home and watch this movie now!
    "I'm singin' to Nelson. Ain't I baby?"


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