A League of their Own highlights the queer history of women in sports
I recently binge-watched the new Amazon Prime show “A League of their Own” and loved it. It was really cool seeing a show based on a story that we knew thanks to a hit Hollywood movie from the nineties that wasn’t afraid to explore the queerness of the players of the time.
I was interested in how accurate the show’s portrayal of queer women’s baseball players in the forties, so I spoke with my friend Frankie de la Cretaz, who has devoted their life and career to documenting the history of queer women’s athletes.
De la Cretaz has written many articles on queer athletes, and teamed up with Lindsay D’Arcangelo to write “Hail Mary,” a book that tells the story of the National Women’s Football League in the 1970’s. Without further ado, here’s our conversation:
Your work was cited the showrunner as inspiration for the new A League of their Own show on Amazon Prime. What do you think about that?
Frankie de la Cretaz:
I think this part of the history of the All American Girls Professional Baseball League has needed to be told for a very long time. I love the Penny Marshall film as do a lot of us, but I think one of the most frustrating things for me about watching it is just how straight washed it is. You can’t get a full impression of this league without telling the stories of the queer women who played. I will say what’s really interesting, I don’t know if you’ve seen the interview with Rosie O’Donnell who makes an appearance in this series talking about how she had conversations with Penny Marshall about her character Doris and the original film and Rosie believes Doris was gay.
And there’s that one scene where she rips up the picture of Charlie, her boyfriend who I always, I’ve always taken that to be subtext. According to Rosie, Penny Marshall said it wasn’t and according to Rosie, it is. And I think there’s something affirming to me about hearing Rosie say, “No, my character was queer even if I wasn’t able to explicitly say that in the film,” and then to allow this series to fill the gaps in storytelling that happened.