There has always been a great debate surrounding A League of Their Own, the incredibly rewatchable Penny Marshall film from the 90s about the first women's baseball league in the United States which was formed during World War II while most of the men who typically played were off fighting the Nazis. The debate I'm referring to is simply, did Dottie Hinson drop the ball on purpose?
It's amazing how over the years I've heard varying points of view on this classic moment. Its amazing too how the division between people often depends on whether they themselves are an older sibling, as Dottie was, or a younger sibling, as was her kid sister, Kit. As the baby in my family I definitely argue that Kit finally and simply got the better of her older, more talented but less hungry older sister. She wanted it more and if Dottie didn't hold on as tight as she should have or could have then well thats just a sign of an older sibling finally needing to step aside and make way for the future.
But never mind that! That's not why I'm writing. I'm writing for a much more important reason and that involves 2B Marla Hooch because I contend that there never should have been or would have been a Game 7 between Racine and Rockford if both Dottie Hinson and Marla Hooch weren't present for Games 1-6? Not to mention Kit and team favorite Betty Spaghetti.
You're telling me me that arguably the best pure switch-hitter in the AAGPBL, one Ms Marla Hooch, being absent from the World Series didn't have more of a detrimental impact on the Peaches? Now I don't know why Marla left. That never made sense either. Couldn't she and Nelson have gotten married after the season? Was it really that important that she leave? Is it possible that Nelson was a closet, power-hungry alpha male who once he legally had Marla under his unassuming spell she was forbidden, "Sleeping with the Enemy" style from playing the game she loved. That doesn't jive either because as they're pulling away in their "Just Married" adorn honeymoon honeywagon she yells, "I'll see you next season!" So, what then? Why does she leave? And why didn't Jimmy Dugan give her the "Don't walk away" speech? She was arguably just as important to the teams success Dottie. Fine! Okay? Marla is gone for seemingly no reason. Rockford still has Dottie and one of their best (see: only) pitchers in Kit.
Or do they? Then Dottie and Kit have a meltdown the day after they clinch a playoff berth and Rockford's best pitcher gets sent packing to none other than, Racine! (Thanks to a seemingly nonexistent trade deadline which is fine! I can be okay with that.) Which means however that the second best team in the league in the span of two scenes just bridged whatever gap existed due to Marla Hooch and picked up Kit Hinson.
Okay, okay! Fine. Marla Hooch, gone. Kit Hinson, traded. But we still might be able to argue that with Dottie around, Rockford is still the team to beat.
Then tragedy strikes. Eddie and Dottie watch stone-faced as Jimmy slowly walks towards them and ultimately delivers the bad news that Eddie's husband, Fred was killed in action. Betty leaves the team and then that night Dottie's husband, Lonestar, arrives from Europe having been wounded in battle. They talk, they decide Oregon is lovely this time of year and despite Jimmy's urging they leave for Games 1-6 and yet the Peaches still force a Game 7?
This I don't believe. Somehow this late in the season the Rockford Peaches without Dottie or Kit Hinson. Without Marla Hooch. Without Eddie Spaghetti. And with an alcoholic manager with a short fuse, Somehow this team manages to force 7 games? With Alice "Skeeter" Gaspers behind the plate and Ellen Sue Gotlander throwing heat? Are you shitting me?
Oh and then Dottie shows up and everyone just decides, "Dottie, welcome back! Sure you can start Game 7!"
I promise I'm upset but I'm definitely not crying.
If it helps here is the Rockford lineup with an asterisk next to the players they lost for Games 1-6.
And now you're Rockford Peaches...
CF - Mae Mordabito
3B - Doris Murphy
RF - Evelyn Gardner
LF - Shirley Baker
P/SS - Ellen Sue Gotlander
LF/RP - Betty "Spaghetti" Horn*
2B - Marla Hooch
1B - Helen Haley
LF, C - Alice "Skeeter" Gaspers
C - Dottie Hinson*
P - Kit Hinson*
Manager - Jimmy Dugan