In 1988, Dottie Hinson (Geena Davis) attends the opening of the new All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL) exhibit at the Baseball Hall of Fame. She sees many of her former teammates and friends, prompting a flashback to 1943.
When World War II threatens to shut down Major League Baseball, candy magnate and Cubs owner Walter Harvey (Garry Marshall) persuades his fellow owners to bankroll a women's league. Ira Lowenstein (David Strathairn) is put in charge, and Ernie Capadino (Jon Lovitz) is sent out to recruit players. Capadino attends an industrial-league softball game in rural Oregon and likes what he sees in Dottie, the catcher for a local dairy's team. Dottie turns down Capadino's offer, happy with her simple farm life while waiting for her husband Bob (Bill Pullman) to come back from the war. Her sister and teammate, Kit (Lori Petty), however, is desperate to get away and make something of herself. Capadino is not impressed by Kit's hitting performance, but agrees to take her along if she can change Dottie's mind. Dottie agrees, but only for her sister's sake.
Dottie and Kit head out to Harvey Field in Chicago for the tryout. There they meet a pair of New Yorkers, taxi dancer "All the Way" Mae Mordabito (Madonna) and her best friend, bouncer Doris Murphy (Rosie O'Donnell), along with soft-spoken right fielder Evelyn Gardner (Bitty Schram), illiterate, shy left fielder Shirley Baker (Ann Cusack), pitcher/shortstop and former Miss Georgia beauty queen Ellen Sue Gotlander (Freddie Simpson), gentle left field/relief pitcher Betty "Spaghetti" Horn (Tracy Reiner), homely second baseman Marla Hooch (Megan Cavanagh), who was scouted by Ernie, Dottie and Kit in Fort Collins, Colorado, first baseman Helen Haley (Anne Ramsay), and Saskatchewan native Alice "Skeeter" Gaspers (Renée Coleman). They and eight others are selected to form the Rockford Peaches, while 48 others are split among the Racine Belles, Kenosha Comets, and South Bend Blue Sox.
The Peaches are managed by Jimmy Dugan (Tom Hanks), a former marquee Cubs slugger who initially treats the whole thing as a joke. The league attracts little interest at first. With a Life magazine photographer in the stands, Lowenstein begs the players to do something spectacular. Dottie obliges when a ball is popped up behind home plate, catching it while doing a split. The resulting photograph makes the magazine cover. A publicity campaign draws more people to the ballgames, but the owners remain unconvinced. Due to Kit's and Dottie's sibling rivalry, Kit is traded to the Peaches' rival, the Racine Belles.
The Peaches end the season qualifying for the league's World Series. In the locker room, Jimmy gives Betty a telegram that informs her her husband was killed in action in the Pacific Theater. The grief-stricken Betty leaves the team. Later that evening, Dottie receives a surprise when Bob, who was serving in Italy, shows up, having been discharged from the Army. The following morning, Jimmy discovers that Dottie is going home with Bob. Unable to persuade her to at least play in the World Series, he tells her she will regret her decision.
The Peaches and Belles meet in the World Series, which reaches a seventh and deciding game. Dottie, having reconsidered during the drive back to Oregon, is the catcher for the Peaches, while Kit is the starting pitcher for the Belles. With the Belles leading by a run in the top of the ninth, Dottie drives in the go-ahead run. Kit is the final batter. Under immense pressure, she gets a hit and, ignoring the third base coach's sign to stop, scores the winning run by knocking her sister over at the plate and dislodging the ball from Dottie's hand. The sellout crowd convinces Harvey to give Lowenstein the owners' support. After the game, the sisters reconcile before Dottie leaves.
Back in the present, Dottie is reunited with several other players, including Kit, whom she has not seen in several years. The fates of several of the characters are revealed: Jimmy, Bob, and Evelyn have died, while Marla has been married to Nelson, a man she met in a bar, for over 40 years. The original Peaches sing a team song composed by Evelyn and pose for a group photo.
On MLB Network's Costas at the Movies in 2013, director Penny Marshall talked about her initial interest in Demi Moore for the part of Dottie Hinson, saying: "Demi Moore, I liked, but by the time we came around, she was pregnant."
Discussing the skirts they wore playing baseball in the film, Geena Davis said on MLB Network's Costas at the Movies in 2013, "Some of our real cast, from sliding into home, had ripped the skin off their legs. It was nutty."
The film was released on July 1, 1992, and was #1 by its second weekend (July 10–12). It was a commercial success, making $107 million in the United States (and an additional $25 million worldwide) on a $40 million budget, and was well received by critics.
The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:2005: AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes:
Jimmy Dugan: "There's no crying in baseball!" – #54
2006: AFI's 100 Years...100 Cheers – Nominated
2008: AFI's 10 Top 10:
Nominated Sports Film
On December 19, 2012, it was announced that the film would be preserved as part of the United States National Film Registry.
A League of Their Own soundtrack was released on CD and cassette tape by Columbia Records on June 30, 1992. The album peaked at #159 on the US Billboard 200 albums chart on July 25, 1992. Although Madonna contributed "This Used to Be My Playground" to the film, featured over the closing credits, her recording was not included on the soundtrack album for contractual reasons.Track listing
- "Now and Forever" – Performed by Carole King
- "Choo Choo Ch'Boogie" – Performed by The Manhattan Transfer
- "It's Only a Paper Moon" – Performed by James Taylor
- "In a Sentimental Mood" – Performed by Billy Joel
- "Two Sleepy People" – Performed by Art Garfunkel
- "I Didn't Know What Time It Was" – Performed by James Taylor
- "On the Sunny Side of the Street" – Performed by The Manhattan Transfer
- "Flying Home" – Performed by Doc's Rhythm Cats
- "Life Goes On" – Performed by Hans Zimmer
- "The Final Game" – Performed by Hans Zimmer
- "The All-American Girls Professional Baseball League Song" – Performed by The Rockford Peaches
With 2012 marking the 20th year since the film's release, A League of Their Own was released as a 20th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray on October 16, 2012.
Forty-seven former players of the AAGPBL reunited in New York to celebrate the film and the real women who inspired it. Events included a trip to Cooperstown for a special program at the National Baseball Hall of Fame, reminiscent of the film's final scene depicting members of the AAGPBL and family coming together to witness the honoring of the Women's Professional Baseball League. The reunion wrapped up with a game of softball held at Alliance Bank Stadium in nearby Syracuse.
Former players also made an appearance at Bosse Field in Evansville, Indiana, on June 6, 2012, where many of the film's game scenes were filmed. The event included an outdoor screening of the film as well as a scene-setting display of cars featured in the film. In addition to Bosse Field, the production used Huntingburg, Indiana's League Stadium, another Southwestern Indiana field older than Bosse that was renovated for the film.
A short-lived series of the same title based on the film aired on CBS in April 1993, with Garry Marshall, Megan Cavanagh, Tracy Reiner, and Jon Lovitz reprising their roles. Only five of the six episodes made were broadcast.