DISCLAIMER: This recap of the A League of Their Own season premiere episode, “Batter Up,” has spoilers. Remember, there’s no crying in baseball. Proceed at your peril.
Welcome, Rockford Peaches! Prime Video’s A League of Their Own is here to fill that gay baseball-sized hole in our hearts. “Batter Up” doesn’t shy away from the racism, homophobia and misogyny that was pervasive in the 1940s (hell, it’s still running rampant in 2022), but there’s still an inexplicable joyfulness to it. Perhaps it’s watching these women persist in a time that would rather see them subservient and wholeheartedly submissive to white men.
Regardless, “Batter Up” sets the stage (or game) for what’s sure to be an exhilarating first season. It’s sharp, witty and heartwarming.
Ready to delve into “Batter Up”? Let’s get to it.
We open in Lake Valley, Idaho, in 1943, with Carson Shaw (Abbi Jacobson) running frantically to catch a departing train. After an awkward encounter with a woman who attends her church (with Carson’s bra in clear view), Carson persuades a train employee to let her board. Well, more like she jumps on without permission. Hey, you gotta do what you gotta do.
Later, while sitting in her seat and reading, we see Carson pull out a photo of her husband, Charlie (Patrick J. Adams), who’s away at war. The following morning, Carson arrives in Rockford, dressed in a baseball outfit. She’s preparing to try out for the Rockford Peaches, an all-women baseball team that’s part of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (ick, that name). There aren’t enough men to play ball since they’re all fighting in the war, hence the call for female reinforcements.
Carson meets Greta Gill (D’Arcy Carden) and Jo De Luca (Melanie Field), two globetrotting besties who are also trying out for the Peaches. Instantly, Carson’s drawn to Greta’s biting wit and overall “cool” vibes.
Next, the trio arrives at the field for tryouts. We see heavy hitters like Lupe García (Roberta Colindrez), and Jess McCready (Kelly McCormack) impress the bigwigs, including Marshall (Nat Faxon). Amid the tryouts, young Esti González (Priscilla Delgado) asks Shirley Cohen (Kate Berlant) if she speaks Spanish. Unfortunately, Shirley treats Esti like she has a disease. Lupe swoops in to save the day, inquiring if Esti’s from Cuba.
We see the ladies in action on the field, with Maybelle Fox (Molly Ephraim) catching balls left and right (Full disclosure: I’m not a baseball connoisseur.).
The Fastest Fastball
Meanwhile, Max Chapman (Chanté Adams) approaches the field alongside her best friend, Clance Morgan (Gbemisola Ikumelo). Clance vents about the state of comic books, and, full transparency, I’m already smitten with her. If these BFFs aren’t your favorite by the season’s end, I have some questions.
Max plans to try out for the Peaches. Unfortunately, the racist asshole conducting the tryouts bars her from showing what she’s got. Max hurls a fastball that lands near the seats. Mind you, she’s standing far away from the field. Max and Clance depart because racist asshole. Even though it’s abundantly clear she could out-throw everyone trying out.
After the tryouts, the ladies return to the hotel in which they’ll stay temporarily. Clad in a military uniform, Beverly (Dale Dickey) chaperones the women and ensures there’s no funny business. Then, we see Carson sitting in her room, trying to write a letter to her husband. Carson fails to articulate what she needs to express to him — that something’s changed within her.
Greta and Jo catch Carson in the act of writing, and Greta asks Carson about Charlie. Greta gives Carson a haircut, and something about this scene screams, “Sensual.” It’s the electrifying chemistry between Jacobson and Carden.
While on the train back home, Clance creates a sketch of Max, and her immense artistic talent is on display. The besties rib each other, and we learn Clance is married while Max is still a single lady. Max won’t let the Peaches rejection stop her from playing baseball with a team. She’s more than good enough.
Meanwhile, Greta and Carson imbibe and get more than a bit intoxicated. Carson sends the equivalent of a drunk text in the form of a drunk letter and asks the hotel receptionist to mail it to Charlie.
Later, we see who’s officially a Rockford Peach. Carson, Greta, Jo, Maybelle, Lupe, Jess, Shirley and Esti made the team! Huzzah! Carson is excited about playing ball, but she frets over the letter she sent to Charlie. She has no clue what she wrote.
Then, Max works at her mother Toni’s (Saidah Arrika Ekulona) salon. Max lies about her trip to the tryouts, but Toni already knows she attended. Toni’s not a fan of Max playing baseball. However, Max’s father, Edgar (Alex Désert), is ecstatic that his daughter’s pursuing her dream. As a daddy’s girl, I approve of this.
Next, Beverly lays down the law at the ladies’ new home, where they’ll stay during the season. She doesn’t approve of smoking, drinking, sex or anything reeking of fun. Oh, and there’s a curfew. However, the gang wants to celebrate joining the team, so they head out for a night on the town.
A Night Out on the Town
Greta, Carson and Jo hang out and partake in all the dancing fun at the bar. Max learns from Clance that the Rockford Peaches are partying it up at the bar where Clance’s husband, Guy (Aaron Jennings), works. Guy let slip of the team’s appearance. Gary (Kendall Johnson), Guy’s coworker who carries a torch for Max, is on an all-male baseball team on which Max wants to play. Gary got a second job at the screw factory, and the team associated with said factory is now hiring Black players.
After Gary remarks that Max can’t play on the team because she’s a woman, Max gets in his face, rightfully angry. Max flees the scene to cool off. Greta and Carson grow closer, and, well, let’s face it — they’re gonna make out sooner rather than later.
“I knew it.”
Lo and behold, the ladies find an empty, dark room to get their kissing on. Greta pulls away, muttering that she “knew it,” before leaving Carson in the dust. Max emerges, having bore witness to the make-out sesh.
Carson later confronts Greta, who’s leaving with a man. Of course, this being 1943, she can’t outright address their passionate kiss. Max embraces Clance while apologizing for her outburst. Then, our two leads meet for the first time. Max tells Carson, “it’s okay,” regarding what she saw. Carson compliments Max on her throwing skills, having witnessed that fastball after Max was denied the opportunity to try out for the Peaches. “I know,” Max replies, like the total badass she is.
Later, Max practices her pitching while working in the salon and outside. Carson and the ladies get pumped up for practice as bona fide Rockford Peaches.
The Max/Clance storyline is significantly more interesting than the Peaches plot. They’re already methodically fleshed out as characters, and the chemistry between Adams and Ikumelo is pitch-perfect. I love Max with all my heart.
Do you think we’ll see the relationship between Carson and Greta shift into Love Land? Will Max snag a spot on a baseball team (of course she will)? Will Sergeant Beverly ever let loose? Join me while I continue recapping A League of Their Own, only on Geek Girl Authority.
A League of Their Own Season 1 is now streaming on Prime Video.
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