The Rockford Peaches return in A League of Their Own exclusive look
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Batter up: The Rockford Peaches are back.
The long-anticipated A League of Their Own TV series is finally stepping up to the plate, debuting on Amazon Prime Video this summer. Abbi Jacobson (Broad City) and Will Graham (Mozart in the Jungle) co-created the show, which reimagines Penny Marshall's iconic 1992 film about the trailblazing women who fought to play professional baseball in the 1940s.
Like the original, the new A League of Their Own is a delightful ensemble comedy, following a wide variety of women who devoted their lives to baseball at the height of World War II. Graham and Jacobson are both lifelong fans of Marshall's movie, and they say their goal was to honor and recapture the joy of the original, while also telling new, more in-depth stories about the league. (The show is not a direct remake, and it will instead introduce entirely new characters.)
"We both loved the movie," Graham tells EW. "We grew up with the movie, and the more we started to explore the real stories underneath it, we saw that there was an opportunity here to tell a story that was broader and included a lot of perspectives that weren't there the first time — but with the same sense of heart and humor and unpretentious fun that everybody loves about the movie."
Much of the new A League of Their Own will focus on the women who played in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, a traveling league formed in 1943. Jacobson's character Carson Shaw is one of those players, a talented catcher who leaves her small town to pursue her diamond dreams with the Rockford Peaches. Along the way, she meets and plays alongside other women, including D'Arcy Carden as Greta Gill, Melanie Field as Jo Deluca, Molly Ephraim as Maybelle Fox, Priscilla Delgado as Esti González, and Kate Berlant as Shirley Cohen. Meanwhile, Nick Offerman plays the Peaches' male coach.
But Jacobson and Graham also note that many women were excluded from playing, and the league only allowed white or white-passing women to join its teams. Marshall's original film alluded to the racism many female ballplayers faced, and the movie has one pivotal scene where an unnamed Black woman shows off her pitching arm. Jacobson and Graham wanted the show to further explore the intersection of race and women's baseball, citing how real-life Black players like Mamie Johnson, Toni Stone, and Connie Morgan broke barriers by playing with men in the Negro league.
In the show, Chanté Adams plays Max Chapman, a young Black ballplayer with similar dreams of stardom. She's joined by Gbemisola Ikumelo as her best friend, Clance Morgan.
"It's definitely something that the movie and Penny Marshall hinted at, but we really wanted to expand it," Jacobson says. "Max's character is based on the three women who ended up playing with men, which is an unbelievable story for all three of them. The more research we did and the more we expanded these characters, the more exciting it became to tell their stories with a modern lens."
Jacobson and Graham say they relied heavily on historical research, speaking to several real-life female athletes who played in the 1940s, like Maybelle Blair. (They also consulted with Marshall before her death in 2018.) One of the things they learned was how the league was considered a "party" for queer and lesbian women, and the two creators say that was part of what interested them most about writing the show.
"We're both queer, and that's a big part of this story, as people have started to realize in the last couple of years," Graham says. "I think for me, the most exciting part was that in a lot of pre-Stonewall stories, you don't get to hear a lot of period queer stories that have a happy ending. For the most part, someone invents something really remarkable, and then they get murdered or something horrible happens to them. Here, this is a story about people who maybe didn't fall in love with the people the world wanted them to, but they had a dream, and they found a way to fall in love and do the thing they wanted to do. That's as heroic and amazing and still as relevant now as it was in 1992 or in 1942. So, that was a huge part of it, wanting to tell a complicated story with a lot of layers, but one with a lot of joy at its core."
"We talked a lot about the show being about these characters' journey to finding their team," Jacobson adds. "Team has a bunch of meanings in terms of baseball, but also, a lot of these characters are finding their community. That joy of finding others that are like you is pretty special."
And although the show — like the film — can at times tackle heavy topics, Graham and Jacobson say their main goal was to preserve the joy and comedy that first made them fall in love with the original.
After all, as any fan can tell you, there's no crying in baseball.
"Every single one of the women that we've spoken to and the stories that we've read, they knew that they were living at one of the most turbulent times in history, where things were changing radically around them — just like we are now," Graham says. "All of the rules were shifting, and somehow in the midst of that change, they managed to find themselves and find a clear idea of who they were. And they got to play ball, which is the thing they all talk about wanting to do more than anything. They loved the sound of the bat, the sound of the cleats. For me, and I think for Abbi too, it's been life-changing to be able to be immersed in those stories. We just want to share that same feeling with everybody else."
A League of Their Own will premiere this summer on Prime Video.
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