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Snake Bytes, 5/11: The last Peach falls

The woman believed to be the last surviving member of the original Peaches club from Rockford, as featured in ‘A League of Their Own’, has passed away.

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1944 Rockford Peaches Photo by Mark Rucker/Transcendental Graphics, Getty Images

[AZ Central] ‘It was easy to dream’: Looking back at Carson Kelly’s development - “I originally thought he would end up at third base. I was in my second or third year of scouting and I thought it was going to end up being a really high-end offensive profile and a well-rounded defender, as well. It was a learning lesson for me of just how good he profiled behind the plate. Not only athletically and with his ability, but from a makeup standpoint. He was, to this day, one of my absolutely favorite kids that I got to meet with. When you sit down with a kid and at 17, 18 years old they can carry the conversation – oftentimes, it’s mom and dad trying to carry the conversation. But the one out of 50 or 100 that you go and do and the kid kind of pushes mom and dad aside and says, ‘I got this, this is my thing.’ It’s one of those things you see from an early age."

[ESPN] Few positive coronavirus antibodies tests among MLB employees - Sixty of the 5,754 people in a study of the Major League Baseball employee population tested positive for coronavirus antibodies, a rate lower than what similar studies run in California found, the studies' authors said Sunday. "I was expecting a larger number," said Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, a professor of medicine at Stanford University, which ran the study. "It shows the value of doing the science as opposed to guessing." The results of the study, which was held in mid-April, revealed a prevalence of COVID-19 antibodies in the MLB employee population of 0.7% -- a number adjusted to reflect testing accuracy. The survey showed that about 70% of those who tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies had been asymptomatic.

[CBS Sports] MLB is about to submit a 2020 season restart plan; here are four key issues that need to be addressed - It’s expected that MLB’s proposal will include expanded rosters, approximately 80 games with the regular season starting in July, and will feature an expanded postseason. The major points of contention are assumed to be the health precautions proposed by the league, as well as the owners’ demands that the players take additional pay cuts to balance out the lost gate revenue. Here are four other developments that will need to be addressed before Opening Day can happen.

[Washington Post] Mary Pratt, southpaw pitcher in a pioneering women’s baseball league, dies at 101 - In five years of pro baseball, Mary Pratt threw a no-hitter, notched a 20-win season and helped lead her team to the league championship series, all while wearing makeup and above-the-knee skirts. Like everyone else in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, she was expected to follow a simple rule: “Look like women. Play like men.” Ms. Pratt, who died May 6 at 101, was one of the first members of the Rockford Peaches, a powerhouse Illinois team formed in 1943 and immortalized in director Penny Marshall’s sports comedy “A League of Their Own.”

Seems like a good point to revisit that film for our Monday movie. Here’s what we wrote about it in 2013 as part of our Movie Night series.

A League of Their Own

The feature was inspired by another film: A League of Their Own, the Documentary, created by Kelly Candaele and Kim Wilson for PBS in 1988. Candaele’s mother and aunt, Helen and Marge Callaghan, were both players in the league, while his brother Casey, played for the University of Arizona in the 1980 College World Series, and played nine seasons in the majors. Kelly and Kim used the experiences of the Callaghan sisters as a basis for the story idea, which was then converted into a screenplay by Lowell Ganz and the marvelously-named Babaloo Mandel (the same pair also wrote another baseball flick, Fever Pitch).

All the characters in the movie are fictional and appear to be composites of aspects from different players, with no consensus as to who inspired them. Tom Hanks’ character, manager Jimmy Dugan, is loosely based on real-life baseball sluggers Jimmie Foxx and Hack Wilson. Geena Davis joined as a late replacement for Debra Winger, days before shooting was scheduled to start - Winger walked off the set after director Penny Marshall hired Madonna. The rest of the actresses had been going through months of baseball training, so Davis had to play catch-up, and did so with ease [she’s also a rather good archer, having competed in the Olympic trials]

Almost all the actresses did their own stunts - Davis did require a stunt double for the split-catch slide [she could do the splits, just not the slide], Most of the bruises shown in the film are real, rather than made-up: the “strawberry” on the thigh of outfielder Alice Gaspers (Renee Coleman), the result of sliding into a base, lasted more than a year. It worked out in the end of Madonna - the song she wrote for the end credits, This Used To Be My Playground, was nominated for a Golden Globe. But the experience seemed to be a particularly memorable one - and not in a good way! - judging by her letter to a friend:

“I cannot suffer any more than I have in the past month learning how to play baseball with a bunch of girls (yuk) in Chicago (double yuk) I have a tan, I am dirty all day and I hardly ever wear make-up. Penny Marshall is Lavern - Geena Davis is a Barbie doll and when God decided where the beautiful men were going to live in the world, he did not choose Chicago.”

Didn’t seem to put her off baseball though, as Alex Rodriguez can testify... And the film proved a hit, grossing over $107 million in the US and making the top ten in that year’s box-office. It rejuvenated interest in the AAGPBL, and much like last week’s offering, The Bad News Bears, also spawned a TV series, though this one - starring Sam McMurray and Carey Lowell - only screened five episodes before being canceled. Still, The Dugan’s proclamation, “There’s no crying in baseball!” was #54 on the AFI’s greatest film quotes of all time. Just one of the many pleasures to be found in tonight’s flick.