This past Tuesday, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America announced the results of the 2022 class of inductees into the Hall of Fame. Former Red Sox star David Ortiz was selected on his 1st time on the ballot while immortals such as Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Curt Schilling were shut out. Those legends will likely get inducted via the Today’s Game Committee but the fact that the BBWAA refused to elect them says more about them as leeches of the sport than it reflects on the players and the controversy surrounding them. I’ll discuss the National Baseball Hall of Fame and the sham it has become at a later time. I’ll also feature Barry Bonds next month in the Black History posts of the Flashback Friday series. This week’s Flashback Friday Moment came to me as I watched the Hall of Fame announcement and saw the aerials of the museum. I was reminded of my first introduction to it: the A League of Their Own film.
How I first came across this moment? I first came across the film in January 1993. I saw it on television back in the days when my mother subscribed to HBO. It was a film about my favorite sport so I tuned in.
What it meant to me then? At the time, I was just 8 years old. I didn’t really know much about the history of the game…especially the women’s professional era. All I know is that I liked the film. I didn’t care too much for the off-the-field stuff but the on-field action was great. Like everybody, I was a fan of Geena Davis’s Dottie Henson but my favorite was actually Megan Cavanagh’s Marla Hooch. She was a disciplined hitter and a pretty good middle infielder. I particularly liked the drama in Game 7 of the World Series. Henson dropping the ball in the home plate collision was a sad moment in the film for me. I thought her heroics were going to rescue the Rockford Peaches and lead them to a championship.
What it means to me now? I watched A League of Their Own last summer. It was my first time in several years. Looking back on it now, the fact that the Racine Belles took that series to 7 games and won it on Kit Keller’s walk-off inside-the-park home run was a miracle. The Peaches were without Marla Hooch (left the team after getting married) and Betty “Spaghetti” (left the team after her husband was killed). Henson also did not play in the first 6 games of the championship series. Had the Peaches been at full strength, they probably would’ve swept the Belles or won the title in 5 games. There’s also the matter of the Belles getting the last at-bat even though the Peaches had the best regular season record. That ending with Tom Hanks’s Jimmy Dugan looking shocked at the result and the Peaches walking off the field with heads slumped gave me all of the feels. Looking at the film through 37-year-old lenses really emphasized how baseball is just as much a team sport as football or basketball even though the statistics are largely individually-driven. The way the team and manager gelled was good stuff. The film is one of my favorite sports films of all time.