Player Who Helped Inspire 'A League of Their Own' Comes Out — at Age 95

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Friday June 17, 2022

Maybelle Blair played on the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL), which inspired the film "A League of Their Own" (and the upcoming Amazon series of the same name). That was in 1948. In 2022, Blair has just come out... at the age of 95, Pink News reported.

The AAGPBL was "a professional women's baseball league which existed from 1943 to 1954," and "was a forerunner of women's professional league sports in the country."

Blair, who pitched for the Peoria Redwings, was on a panel for the upcoming Amazon series that, like the hit movie from 1992, is based on the league. While on that panel, the 95-year-old "came out as a lesbian for 'basically the first time,'" Pink News relayed.

Blair called women's teams "a great opportunity for these young girl ball players to... realize that they're not alone, and you don't have to hide."

Added the near-centenarian: "I hid for 75, 85 years, and this is actually basically the first time I've ever come out."

Blair "was already an accomplished softball player when she joined the Peoria Redwings of the AAGPBL for one season in 1948," her profile on the AAGPBL website reads. "She left the league the following year to play professional softball in Chicago."

"This Texas native then moved to California, where she attended Compton Junior College and then the LA School of Physiotherapy. After working at a treatment center in Los Angeles, she changed fields and began a 37-year career at Northrop Corporation."

More recently, Blair has kept busy with "speeches, ceremonial first pitches and tournaments where she inspired young girls — and not-so-young girls — to find their place in baseball," as well as spearheading efforts for "a museum to get built for the International Women's Baseball Center," the Los Angeles Times reported in a profile last year.

Blair spoke a little about the bad old days.

"We sort of had a little thing, you know how you do," Blair revealed. "I was with a girl. It was really bad because in our day you wouldn't dare tell your family or hint anybody" about being LGBTQ+.

Heartbreakingly, Blair said that she "thought she was the 'only one in the world'" with feelings like the ones she had for other women. She added that she "thought there was something 'wrong' with her because she had a 'crush' on a girl in high school," Pink News detailed.

"Both the 1992 film and the Amazon Prime show, also titled 'A League of Their Own,' take place in 1943 at the inception of the AAGPBL," Pink News noted. "But the Amazon version will follow a different team than the one depicted in the film, and thus have a different storyline."

The Amazon series premieres Aug. 12.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.