Movies can provide the answers to some of life’s most important questions. Should you try something even if it’s difficult? Yes because the hard is what makes it great. Are snap judgments about a person’s skill set a good idea? Probably not if you want to make friends. If you present a decently-sized target, should you mock someone who has a projectile? It would be ill advised. And, finally, if you haven’t caught on with what movie I’m talking about, here it is, right down the middle of the plate: is there crying in baseball? No, never.
There’s no doubt that A League of Their Own, which is loosely based on the real-life All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL) of the 1940s and1950s, is a joy to watch. But amid the Geena Davis swinging, Madonna and Rosie O’Donnell bonding, and Tom Hanks shenanigans (drunk Jimmy Dugan terrorizes the chaperone while sober Jimmy drops a kid with a baseball mitt), is a glimpse of a pre-Title IX world. With the edict that each player was to be a lady, the ball players find themselves forced into charm school. The movie makes it clear how female athletes were viewed as outside the norm.
It took another thirty years for female athletes to gain equal status to their male counterparts…in high school and college athletic programs at least. Title IX, which is a part of the Education Amendments of 1972, guarantees that “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance….” Although Title IX guarantees no discrimination, forty years later, there are still issues with compliance.
So why am I blogging about this today? Lavonne “Pepper” Paire Davis (above left), one of the female ballplayers who was an inspiration for the character Dottie Hinson, passed away. Davis’ story is a reminder of the struggle women faced to be able to play ball. Her obituary also offered up a fun fact: Davis co-wrote the song the players sing in A League of Their Own—you know you know the words—back in 1944.Tags: A League of Their Own, All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, Baseball, Lavonne "Pepper" Paire Davis, Title IX