A baseball player who was one of many inspirations for “A League of Their Own” is speaking publicly about her sexuality for the first time.
Maybelle Blair, 95, was among the members of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, a professional women’s baseball league which existed from 1943 to 1954. The California native pitched for the Peoria Redwings in 1948.
The women’s league became immortalized by Hollywood in the 1992 film “A League of Their Own,” starring Geena Davis, Tom Hanks and Madonna. The movie is also the basis for a new Amazon Prime series of the same, created by Abbi Jacobson of “Broad City” and Will Graham.
Blair ― also known as “All The Way Mae,” like Madonna’s character in the original movie — came out as a lesbian while speaking after a screening of the new series at the 2022 Tribeca Film Festival in New York this week.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for these young girl ball players to come to realize that they’re not alone, and you don’t have to hide,” Blair told the audience. “I hid for 75, 85 years and this is actually basically the first time I’ve ever come out.”
After Monday’s screening, Amazon Prime shared footage of the emotional moment on the official “League of Their Own” Twitter and Instagram accounts.
Like the 1992 movie, “A League of Their Own” takes place in 1943 and follows fictionalized members of the Rockford Peaches. According to press notes, the series diverges from the film by taking “a deeper look at race and sexuality, following the journey of a whole new ensemble of characters as they carve their own paths towards the field, both in the league and outside of it.”
A teaser for the show released earlier this month hints at a flirtation between players Carson (played by Jacobson) and Greta (D’Arcy Carden).
Appearing on “The Drew Barrymore Show” last year, Jacobson confirmed that she’d sought the blessing of Penny Marshall, who directed the movie and died in 2018, before committing to the series. She also vowed that the show will explore “the realities of what was really going on in 1943” while evoking “the spirit and the joy” of the original.
“A door opens for a lot of white women and white-passing women that get on the league that we all know from the film,” she said. “But what about the Black women who were not allowed to try out and who had to sort of carve their own path to play baseball? It’s also a really queer story.”