Entertainment · June 18, 2022

Maybelle Blair, who helped inspire “a league of her own,” comes out at 95

A baseball player who was one of many inspirations for “A League of Their Own” speaks publicly about her sexuality for the first time.

Maybelle Blair, 95, was a member of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, a women’s professional baseball league that existed from 1943 to 1954. Born in California, she played for the Peoria Redwings in 1948.

The Women’s League was immortalized by Hollywood in the 1992 film A League Of Their Own, starring Geena Davis, Tom Hanks and Madonna. The film is also the basis for a new Amazon Prime series of the same, created by Broad City’s Abbi Jacobson and Will Graham.

Maybelle Blair (centre) with Abbi Jacobson and Will Graham, co-creators of Amazon Prime "A league of its own."
Maybelle Blair (centre) with Abbi Jacobson and Will Graham, co-creators of Amazon Prime’s A League of Their Own.

Blair – also known as “All The Way Mae,” like Madonna’s character in the original film – 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 ballplayers to realize they’re not alone and there’s no need to hide,” Blair told the audience. “I’ve been in hiding for 75, 85 years and this is basically my first time coming out.”

Following 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 film, A League of Their Own is set in 1943 and follows fictional members of the Rockford Peaches. According to press notes, the series deviates from the film by “taking a deeper look at race and sexuality and following the journey of a whole new cast of characters as they carve their own paths onto the field, both in and out of the League.”

A teaser for the show released earlier this month suggested a flirtation between players Carson (played by Jacobson) and Greta (D’Arcy Carden).

While appearing on The Drew Barrymore Show last year, Jacobson confirmed that she had sought the blessing of Penny Marshall, who directed the film and died in 2018 before joining the series. She also promised that the show will “explore the realities of what was really going on in 1943” while evoking “the spirit and joy” of the original.

“A door is opening for a lot of white women and white women moving up into the league that we all know from the movie,” she said. “But what about the black women who weren’t allowed to try and had to kind of carve their own way to play baseball? It’s also a really weird story.”