Syracuse (WSYR-TV) -- A movie we all know and love is part of a big reunion this weekend and you’re invited to be a part of it. The baseball players who inspired the film “A League of their Own” are in Central New York for a game.
And though “there’s no crying in baseball,” there may be some friendly trash talking.
“We’re going to whip their butts and that is all there is to it,” said Maybelle Blair, coach and former pitcher for the 1948 Peoria Red Wings.
Blair is a modern day coach and a former pitcher for the All American Girls Professional Baseball League
– the league that inspired a movie for a generation of fans. She wasn't portrayed in the film, but she appears with the real league players shown in the closing credits. Blair fondly recalls watching the filming of the movie.
“Like Madonna, sliding head first into third…Oh my goodness, you know how that would hurt? But, anyway, she did it and didn’t cry too much about it,” Blair said.
Blair is one of the many league members who reunite each year to touch base and to play ball. This year they’ll be meeting up in Syracuse. Actress Patti Pelton, who played Marbleann Wilkenson, is still awed by the women she met making the film, some who are now in their 80s.
“When I got here I heard that they were actually out in the back playing baseball. One of them rolled down the hill, got up and kept going. It’s amazing,” Pelton said.
With a boundless passion for baseball, the women admit it wasn't easy leading the way.
Mary Moore, Springfield Sallies, 1950, 2nd Base: "I mean, when I was going to high school, we didn't even have girls sports. We were allowed to take one hour of gym in our senior year,” explained Mary Moore, who played second base for the 1950 Springfield Sallies.
"It is just a great honor to be able to play against these women....not just for what they did for women, but women in sports too,” said Jessie Barrow, Wings Over Syracuse shortstop.
Blair almost didn't get to play in 1948. Her mother protested until a scout offered $65 a week, which was more than her father's salary.
"He says Mrs. Blair, you don't understand. We are going to pay her $65 a week for her to play professional baseball, Maybelle Blair remembered. "My mother said, 'George, go crank up the car. I'm going to pack her suitcase and she is on her way.' I was going to make more money than my father."
Today, she understands it was a pivotal moment in her life and for all young women.
"We'd be home making babies and things like that....behind the stove. Those days are gone...and it has opened the door for all women and we are very proud of that,” she said.
And with that pride, at the age of 85, she still wants to win.
The team -- The Associates -- will be at Alliance Bank Stadium this Saturday to take on Tony Wade's Wings Over Syracuse. On Friday, they'll be at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown to sign autographs at10 a.m. and will play an exhibition game at noon. Advance sale tickets are still available for $5 or three for $10.
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