Project Profile: A League of Their Own
A League of Their Own - The Documentary
Role: Producer, along with Producer/Directors Kelly Candaele and Kim Wilson
My mother was a professional baseball player in the All American Girl’s Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL) in the 1940s. The league was established by chewing gum magnate Philip K. Wrigley during WWII to provide sports entertainment in the small factory towns in the industrial heartland. My mother - Helen Callaghan - was recruited from Vancouver, Canada as one of the original players in the league. Her sister Margaret - as portrayed in the Columbia Pictures movie made from the documentary - was also signed to the league.
But the ten year existence of the AAGPBL was lost in time, only recognized by the veteran women players who gathered together periodically at reunions to swap stories and talk about their playing years. Our team decided to chronicle the existence of the league by following my mother to a reunion of the league in Ft. Wayne, Indiana.
Prior to heading for Ft. Wayne (my mom played in the league for the Ft. Wayne Daisies) we had shown some old film clips of the league to producers at Los Angeles PBS station KCET. They were so fascinated by the subject matter they agreed to co-produce the film, provide a substantial portion of the budget and offer the film to PBS for a national airing.
After shooting the documentary it aired later that year in a national showing on PBS.
Soon after the premier on PBS we received a call from Director Penn Marshall inviting us to her house. We talked about turning the documentary into a film and we set out to write a story outline about two sisters who fight and battle each other in the league but end up finding a way to move beyond the rivalry that almost tears them apart.
Penny ultimately took the film idea to Columbia Pictures and it was shot and released in 1992 with an all star cast of Tom Hanks, Geena Davis, Madonna, Rosie O’Donnell and Jon Lovitz. The film went on to make $100 million in the domestic market and to add a new phrase to our national vocabulary. We all now know that “There’s no crying in baseball!”
A League of Their Own is an “evergreen” movie - never going out of style and still seen and admired by young and old. It’s hard for me to watch today as my mom died of breast cancer in 1992, the same year the movie came out. But I’m proud to have honored part of her life. She was an athletic pioneer and an inspiration to young girls everywhere.