Prime Video’s “A League of Their Own” series only just launched, but the show’s creators are already hard at work on a potential second season.
“We’re here with you taking a break from working on Season 2 of the show,” series co-creator Will Graham told TheWrap in a recent interview. “There definitely is a lot more to this story.”
The first season, out on Prime Video now, sees Carson Shaw (Abbi Jacobson), Greta Gill (D’Arcy Carden), Jo De Luca (Melanie Field) and more gather at tryouts for the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, eventually settling on the story of the Rockford Peaches. Within the Illinois-based team are stories of all kinds of women, but one storyline falls outside the AAGPBL with Max Chapman (Chanté Adams), who carves her own niche in baseball later on in the show. Season 1 ends with some physical and literal twists, but the story is far from over.
“The starting place for us was not ‘let’s do this movie again’ the way that the sort of reboot culture is now in Hollywood,” Graham said. “It was really looking into the stories underneath it and seeing that there was a much bigger story here in the real story that was about a whole generation of women who wanted to play ball and that includes the characters who are the foundation of Max’s character.”
Inspiration for Max was found in players like Connie Morgan, Toni Stone and Mamie Johnson, who were the first three women who went on to play in the Negro Leagues.
“I think some people don’t realize the movie is based on the real All American Girls [Professional Baseball League] and the real Rockford Peaches,” said writer Desta Tedros Reff. “So it was like stepping back, stepping into that history and realizing how much more of the story hadn’t been told and seeing the opportunity now to really sort of step in and broaden that lens with with that feeling that I think is so transformative and so captivating of the movie — which is just that joy.”
Graham detailed their plans to expand the story beyond that of the movie to director Penny Marshall, receiving her blessing before going forward with the series.
“There were Latinx players in the AAGPBL, Cuban players and players of Mexican descent that weren’t included and then the gigantic story of a queer community that wasn’t talked about in the film because it was 1992 and it was only two hours,” Graham said. “It wasn’t hard for us to find a reason to to revisit these these stories and tell them from a new perspective, but we were lucky that we got to talk to Penny Marshall. It is scary because the movie is so iconic.”
One connection the series holds to the movie is the involvement of Rosie O’Donnell, who starred as Doris in Penny Marshall’s film. O’Donnell plays Vi, the owner of a queer bar hidden in a movie theater, where some of the AAGPBL players go for queer community.
“Rosie came into our writers room. She and Abbi knew each other, and we were all super excited and nervous,” Graham said. “She talked to us about making the film, she talked to us about her own experience as a queer person in that process and her viewpoint on her character. And she said something that we then held for the rest of the process which was ‘Have fun. It’s wonderful to make something, but it doesn’t always get to matter.’ And then actually, in that same conversation, we were explaining to her what was going to happen with this season, and she kind of pitched us something that she would want to do. So it came from Rosie as much as it came from us.”
Coach ‘Dove’ Porter (Nick Offerman) also echoes Tom Hanks’ Coach Jimmy Dugan from the 1992 film. Coach Porter got his nickname from his signature fork ball pitch that he accidentally killed a bird with back in the day.
“We were so lucky to have Nick Offerman in that role,” Tedros Reff said. “He’s so charismatic. He’s so likable but also able to play sort of the other side of that character. He’s just fantastic.”
Unlike Jimmy Dugan though, Dove does not stick around for the championship game at the end of the series.
“We talked to Geena Davis and we talked to some original cast members. They were like, ‘Look, the movie is really centered on the coach. And obviously he’s such an iconic character and Tom Hanks, his performance is one of the benefits of his career,” Graham said. “We sort of wanted to play with that and introduce someone that felt like they were going to take up that same space, and then have them disappear.”
Porter barely coaches the women, and when he does he chalks their lack of success up to “not enough fire” or willpower. Halfway through the season, he mysteriously walks off the field after an argument with one of the men in charge, and later chaperone Beverly (Dale Dickey) informs the Peaches that he’s accepted a coaching position with the Orioles.
“This series is really about these women. It’s based on a real story that happened in the league where one of the coaches got another job midway through the season and just vanished,” Graham said. “In that case, three of the women came in to coach the rest of the season on their own. They were never totally credited. It was never completely acknowledged, which is also true in the show. But we thought it was a great way to sort of center the show a little differently than the movie in a way that felt appropriate for right now.”