Baseball and Emancipation: The Series “A League of Their Own”

The series explores the many different challenges faced by queer women in the 1940s who lived in constant fear of losing everything. Another small moment from the original becomes the second storyline in the series: In the film, it’s just an appreciative nod – as a Black viewer returns the ball from out of bounds with a skillful, long throw instead of throwing it to the next player. On the show, pitcher Maxine Chapman doesn’t give up right away. She believes that her skills can break through the barriers of segregation – although as a Black woman she is explicitly not allowed to play.

Rebellion against racism in the “Negro Leagues”

The series does not bow to Hollywood’s need for harmony, which also likes to rewrite history for a happy ending. Maxine’s fight is in vain, even the actually so open white players are trapped in racist thought patterns. The resulting injustice is also painfully felt by the audience. The role models for Maxine’s story are the black professional players from the so-called “Negro Leagues”. With so many men being drafted into the military service in the 1940s, individual African American women are finding their way into the black men’s baseball leagues for the first time. Unlike their white colleagues, they play there in mixed-gender teams. Series creators Will Graham and Abbi Jacobson take this parallel storyline very seriously and give it almost half of the narrative time.

How serious is also shown by the figures themselves, many of whom are inspired by historical sportswomen: their friendships seem alive, the characters have weaknesses and quirks that distinguish them and make them unique – but always anchor them in their time. Maxine’s loving and ambitious mother worries that the tomboyish daughter, like her aunt, could be “inverted”, i.e. homosexual. The fear of queer people divides families and friendships – and threatens to engulf the Rockford Peaches as well.


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