Center for History Celebrates 20th Anniversary of A League of Their Own
June 20, 2012 — It was 20 years ago this July that Hollywood released the film A League of Their Own, which immortalized the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL). As a national repository for AAGPBL uniforms, trophies, scrapbooks, photographs, and more, the Center for History is kicking off a summer-long celebration of the film, the AAGPBL, and the South Bend Blue Sox, one of the first teams formed as part of the League.
A League of Their Own was a box-office hit in 1992 and remains a signature film today. From Tom Hanks’ famous line “There’s no crying in baseball!” to the roles played by Geena Davis, Madonna, Rosie O’Donnell and Lori Petty, audiences know many scenes by heart. The film, directed by Penny Marshall, tells the story of women who came from across America—big cities, small towns and country farms—to play baseball on the teams of the AAGPBL.
Through August 26, the Center for History has a special display on view. A League of Their Own: Behind the Scenes showcases a baseball signed by Tom Hanks, Madonna and Geena Davis, a copy of the film’s script, a shirt worn by the crew during the filming of A League of Their Own, plus other artifacts and photographs from the Center for History’s AAGPBL collection.
The South Bend Silver Hawks are teaming up with the Center for History’s celebration to present South Bend Blue Sox Night at the Cove, taking place at Coveleski Stadium on Friday, June 29. Betsy Jochum, a member of the original 1943 Blue Sox baseball team, will throw out the first pitch of the game and be available for autographs. The Silver Hawks will give away a flat screen TV at each inning that evening, one of their “Flat Screen Fridays.” Fireworks are planned following the game. Pre-game ceremonies start at 7:15 p.m. and game time is 7:35 p.m. Admission is charged.
In another partnership with the Center for History, the Silver Hawks will show the film A League of Their Own on Coveleski Stadium’s digital screen following the game on Sunday, July 22. Game time is 2:05 p.m., and the film starts right after the game ends. Attendees must have a ticket to the game.
A special discount on a museum membership is another component of the summer celebration. Membership entitles free visits all year long plus discounts on programs and in the museum store.
The women who played in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League were pioneers in sports—yet played for the love of the game. They crisscrossed the Midwest making history in ball parks—yet just wanted to drive in the scoring run. They were immortalized in the film, A League of Their Own—yet gathered at annual reunions simply to see “old friends.”
With the entrance of the United States into World War II, Philip Wrigley was apprehensive that major league baseball would suffer due to the number of players being drafted into the armed services. In creating the women’s teams, he hoped that stadiums would remain full and public support of major league baseball would stay active.
And it worked. In the mid-sized towns of the Midwest, there was significant support for the 14 women’s teams that were part of the AAGPBL. The teams included the Rockford Peaches, South Bend Blue Sox, Kenosha Comets, Racine Belles, Milwaukee Chicks, Minneapolis Millerettes, Grand Rapids Chicks, Fort Wayne Daisies, Muskegon Lassies, Peoria Redwings, Chicago Colleens, Springfield Sallies, Battle Creek Belles and Kalamazoo Lassies.
The Center for History is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $8 for adults, $6.50 for seniors, and $5 for youth 6-17. A special discount applies for group tours.
For information, call (574) 235-9664 or visit www.centerforhistory.org