Penny Marshall, ‘A League of Their Own’ still blazing trails for women in baseball

It grossed $132 million, lent sports one of its most enduring phrases, and capped what might be considered a golden decade for baseball and cinema.

But "A League of Their Own" played a role far more significant than even "The Natural", "Bull Durham" and "Field of Dreams" fulfilled: It captured a moment in time that was nearly forgotten, and helped spark a movement that carries on some three decades later.

Penny Marshall’s death on Monday at 75 came 26 years after her film about the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League brought to the modern screen a tale of inclusion and empowerment. Hatched as a wartime diversion while many of the major leagues’ players – including Ted Williams – fought overseas, the AAGPBL outlasted World War II, spanning 1943 to 1954.

Barnstorming through Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana and eventually Michigan, the league faded as the lads came home and the major leagues were whole again. But the barriers broken by the league’s women were significant – and might have been a footnote were it not for Marshall.

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