Are the "A League of Their Own" Characters Real People? Let's Investigate
The 1992 movie "A League of Their Own" introduced many of us to a story that had been largely overlooked by modern history: the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. Founded in 1943, the AAGPBL stemmed from an effort to keep up morale and offer professional sports during World War II, when many of the men baseball stars were fighting overseas. Instead, a league was formed consisting of all women, giving them the chance to play pro sports in a way that they might never have dreamed possible.
Now, Prime Video is taking the story of the AAGPBL and revamping it in a new TV series, with all new characters but still loosely based on the experiences of the real teams of the league. Just how much of the show is original, and how much was inspired by real players and their stories? While most of the characters aren't directly based on real people, they've got their roots in the true stories of these incredible women.
Watch the "A League of Their Own" trailer ahead, and then read on for more about the real history behind the show!
Is Carson Shaw a Real Person?
Carson Shaw, as played by series cocreator Abbi Jacobson, isn't based on a single person from real life but rather on several real anecdotes mixed with plenty of fiction.
One figure whose real life likely ties into Carson's complicated arc is Maybelle Blair, a star AAGPBL player who, just this year at the age of 95, came out during the press tour for "A League of Their Own."
"I think it's a great opportunity for these young girl ball players to come to realize that they're not alone and you don't have to hide," she said during a panel for the show. "I hid for 75, 85 years, and this is actually, basically the first time I've ever come out."
Is Max Chapman a Real Person?
Max, as played by Chanté Adams, is a talented and determined pitcher who is based on three real baseball players: Mamie Johnson, Toni Stone, and Connie Morgan.
In real life, the AAGPBL was segregated — meaning no Black women were allowed to play. The original movie alludes to it in a brief but memorable scene where a Black woman (played by an uncredited extra) picks up a stray ball and impresses the Peaches with her throw. The TV remake puts Max, a Black woman, as one of the protagonists, and it digs a little deeper into how Black women who wanted to play baseball would have fit in during that era.
As Jacobson explained to People, players like Johnson, Stone, and Morgan left women's baseball behind altogether. "Max's character, played by Chanté Adams, is inspired by three women, Mamie Johnson, Toni Stone, and Connie Morgan, who went on to play in the Negro Leagues with men. Historically, the All American Girl's League did not allow Black women to try out," she said. "It was really, like, a white-passing thing. So, what was their journey? That was such a fascinating story, to create a new character inspired by them and really follow her path to find her team, too. What does that look like?"
Adams also spoke about representing these overlooked trailblazers in an interview with Essence. "There were Black women there that tried to get on those teams and couldn't. And where did their stories go?" She added, "To this day, there are only three women who have played professional baseball on a major-league level — and those three women are Black, but we don't know their names. That is who Max is representing."
Is Greta Gill a Real Person?
Confident, glamorous Greta, played by D'Arcy Carden, is another character who doesn't have a direct real-life inspiration but brings together many bits and pieces from real life and fiction. At first glance, Greta seems to be the new "version" of Madonna's character, Mae, from the original movie, but there's much more to Greta than meets the eye.
Carden, who has been friends with Jacobson for years, was initially a little hesitant to take on the role but was soon won over by Greta.
"I have this fear of working with friends where I was like, 'Well, what if the pilot's not good?'" she told The Daily Beast. "And I read the pilot in one sitting and it was so good that it was just like, 'Oh, well this is a complete no-brainer.' . . . Sometimes you get a feeling where you're like, I can't not be a part of this. If this happens and I don't get to be a part of it, I'm going to regret it. Or I'm going to jump off the face of the earth."
Is Jo DeLuca a Real Person?
Jo, played by Melanie Field, the Peaches' sarcastic, bold third-base player and Greta's longtime BFF. Her character combines aspects of the real AAGPBL along with fiction, including the tough-talking vibe of Rosie O'Donnell's Doris in the original movie.
While not identical, Jo does share a name (and a reputation as a power player at the plate) with Josephine Lenard, an outfielder known for her skill as a batter as well as for her rules-defying behavior, like chewing gum all the time. Like the fictional Jo, Lenard even spent some time playing for the Rockford Peaches as part of her decade-long career.
Is Clance Morgan a Real Person?
Gbemisola Ikumel plays Clance, Max's lifelong BFF and an aspiring comic-book artist. While she's not directly based on a historical figure, she does have some things in common with Jackie Ormes, a trailblazing artist of the era.
Ormes was the first Black woman to have a syndicated comic strip, and, like the fictional Clance, she often drew inspiration for her cartoons from the situations and people she knew. Her most famous comic strips were "Torchy Brown" and "Patty-Jo 'n' Ginger," which combined sharp social and political commentary with Ormes's love of fashion. In 2018, 33 years after her death, Ormes was inducted into the Will Eisner Comic Awards Hall of Fame at San Diego Comic-Con.
Is Lupe García a Real Person?
Roberta Colindrez's character, Lupe, is a fierce pitcher with something to prove, even when her own body rebels against her.
Lupe, like many of the other characters, is an amalgamation of bits of real players' stories with some fiction thrown in. There's a little in her arc of Margaret "Marge" Villa, one of the few Latina players in the real AAGPBL. Just as Lupe is marketed as being "Spanish," Marge was required to "pass" as white during the segregated era.
Lupe also borrows a little from Blair, whose pitching career faltered when an injury made itself apparent.
"You've heard of Nolan Ryan, haven't you? He had nothing on me. You believe that too, don't ya?" Blair joked in an MLB interview.
Is Casey "Dove" Porter a Real Person?
Nick Offerman puts a new twist on the "coach" role of Casey "Dove" Porter, who, like many of the players, is mostly fictional with a few real-life touches thrown in.
Porter, like the Tom Hanks character in the original movie, is a former major-league star looking for a second act, which comes when he (perhaps not with total enthusiasm) is recruited to coach one of the new women's teams. In universe, he's famed for a pitch that once struck a bird midair, reminiscent of a freak incident that occurred in 2001, when Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Randy Johnson hit a dove while pitching.