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#ThirtyScenesInThirtyDays: Day Eight - A League of Their Own: The Play at the Plate

July 27, 2017

I love baseball. You know that. This is my favorite baseball movie of all-time (narrowly beating out The Sandlot). There's a lot to write about here -- the story, the performances, the one-liners (I don't have to type it out.) But what always fascinated me about this film was something that didn't click in me till I revisited it a couple of years ago:

 

The casting. 

 

It's Game 7 of the World Series. Dottie has gone and fucked off with Bob or Bill Pullman or whatever. We're left with the Rockford Peaches without Dottie, or the traded-away Kit, or the just-married Marla Hooch (make me, me blue). The three characters we started this journey with are all now gone from the team we've been following the whole film. 

 

So how does this all still work? 

 

A montage, of course! We get an exciting, headline and highlight-filled montage of games 1-6, Dottie waltzes back in, and we're all set for a gaht-damn showdown against starting pitcher Kit and the Racine Belles.

 

You know how the game goes. In the top of the 9th, Kit gives up the go-ahead run to her older sister, then gets a turn at bat at the bottom of the frame with a chance at redemption. With a runner on first and two out, Kit sends a shot into the gap... and here's where my point about casting comes in. If there were an Academy Award for casting (which there absolutely should be), this would have won that year.

 

It wasn't until Kit was rounding third like a bull towards Dottie where I realized, "Oh shit, this is KIT'S movie -- has been since this beginning!" AND IT IS. Yes, Geena Davis was the marquee star, as were Tom Hanks and Madonna. But really, if you were to go back to the beginning and read the script, this is Kit's story. It's why she finally hits the high fastball and demolishes her sister at the plate. 

 

It's why Dottie drops the ball. 

 

I'm not sure if this is genius on director Penny Marshall's part (probably is... definitely is), but had she cast another star in place of lesser-known Lori Petty as Kit, we may have seen the this final scene coming. She uses slight of hand, dazzling us with star-power to sneak in the ending this film needed -- the two sisters, crashing at their final collision-course, with the underdog prevailing. 

 

And damnit, I get all misty every time the umpire screams "SAAAAAAAAFE!"

 

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