A League of Their Own – Did She Lose on Purpose?

Yesterday, Brandon and I, while waiting for the Cubs game to start, got into a debate about the ending of A League of Their Own (and if you haven’t seen it and/or don’t know what I’m talking about, drop everything you’re doing RIGHT NOW and get that shit on Netflix instant or whatever ASAP).  Brandon claims that Geena Davis’ character, Dottie, drops the ball on purpose so Kit (Lori Petty) can be the hero and win the World Series for her team.

I wholeheartedly disagree.  If Dottie was going to blow the game on purpose, why did she then call a time out to tell Ellen Sue to throw high, fast balls, which she knows Kit cannot hit or lay off?

Also, maybe it’s because I’m the little sister, but I want to believe that Kit could beat her big sister at something.  (Side note:  it’s not my sister’s fault that my mom had to write a letter to our elementary school specifically requesting they NOT assign me a certain teacher for my 6th grade year.  Not only did the woman take makeup tips from Tammy Faye Baker, but every time she saw me in the hallway she would squeal, “You’re Miriam’s sistah!”  To which I always wanted to respond, “Bitch, I have a name!”  But you can’t say that when you’re ten.)

Apparently, there is an eternal debate going on about this scene.  By the way, what did we do before the internet?  I’m able to share this clip below, but if we were debating this in 1992, I’d have to reenact the scene by drawing stick figures.  (Side note – I saw this reenacted in real life this year on July 4 when A.J. Pierzynski barreled into Mike Napoli, who subsequently dropped the ball).  Anywho.  Here’s the scene (and it’s SUCH a great scene):

I actually googled something along the lines of “ending to a league of their own” and found some old message board full of back and forth on this very debate.

Now, ignoring the fact that these were posted 12 years ago and some sexist jerks are talking about how girls can’t play sports in general, someone named Miller, posted the following:

I don’t think she dropped the ball on purpose. For one thing, it would be an absolute rat-bastard thing to do to the rest of her team mates. For another, it would communicate that her relationship with her sister was fundamentally unchanged: she’s still patronizing her little sister. “Letting” her win is the sort of thing you do with a five year old, not another grown woman. It’s almost as much of a shit move as backstabbing your team by throwing the game. I think Kit legitimately came out on top in that play. The message I take from it is that, at the end, it was Kit who was the “real” ball player – Dottie had more raw talent, but Kit had the heart for it. Dottie was just killing time until her husband came home. Kit loved the game.

I wholeheartedly agree with this – why would she quit the team only to come back to the World Series and throw it on purpose?  No, she didn’t.  She just dropped the ball because Kit knocked her over – she had enough built up rage to hit her hard enough to make her drop the ball.

So that’s my argument – Dottie would not have bothered to come back for the series in addition to trying to get her sister to strike out to lose the game if she had every intention of setting Kit up to “win” so to speak – she tried the opposite, and Kit came out on top.  No way did she drop the ball on purpose.  No way.

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7 thoughts on “A League of Their Own – Did She Lose on Purpose?

  1. I can understand why its hard to believe that Dottie would throw the game so that her sister can be the hero, and how patronizing it would be to Kit for Dottie to do that, but unfortunately its true!!! Why? Simple, throughout the whole movie, Dottie is show to be the superior ball player in every facet of the game, while Kit was the one who had the ability as well, but was always trying to outdo her sister, which leads to her doing the wrong things in the game of baseball.
    When the movie first begins, we notice how Kit doesn’t adhere to Dottie’s advice to stoop swinging at the high ones, which Kit responds “I like the high ones” Of course Kit strikes out, while Dottie comes up to bat and hits one out the park, its plain to see that Dottie is the Babe Ruth of baseball and Kit is not. Which leads to Dottie being invited to the League and not Kit, but Dottie doesn’t want to be a ball player, nevertheless goes anyway to appease her sister. So I ask this question, Why is it hard to believe that Dottie dropped the ball at the end so Kit can be the hero, get the glory, and fame when we know Dottie only cared about her husband Bill coming back from war alive?
    Dottie did patronize Kit by doing this, but Dottie has been doing that her entire life, the only difference this time, it lead to Kit being a hero and not the goat. Dottie wasn’t going to come back next season, she didn’t want it, but KIt did and beating Kit again meant nothing, but having a little sister was more important. Also, look at the joy on Dottie’s face as she watched Kit get adored by fans, that doesn’t look like the face of a person who was finally beat by her sister, thats the face of a person who finally allowed her sister true happiness.

  2. She definitely didn’t drop the ball on purpose. Since the end play is entirely dependent on whether Dottie drops the ball, it’s symbolic of kits will that overcome her older sister. It’s similar to the movie Rudy, where , when he’s finally allowed to play, his will overcomes his physical ability, and he is able to tackle someone twice as big as him. The scene is symbolic of a typical sports movie: heart wins over ability when its most needed. Anywho, that’s my two cents.

  3. OK, here’s why I think I agree with this conclusion. I support the statements of the original post. And in addition:

    Dottie lost her cool when she saw Kit coming at that moment. She’d never done that in a game before. I don’t think she had time to feel pity or charity toward her sister, just the moment itself. She’d always played with her sister on the same team, so they probably didn’t have competitive moments like that. The idea of that moment was one thing.

    Throughout the movie, Dottie got injuries. As a sportswoman, I know that those injuries tend to build up over time, and many don’t get totally fixed. The first time Dottie did that same play of stopping the runner, she grabbed her shoulder. She also discussed the shoulder again after that final game. Weakness?

    So it made me think that Kit’s speed (smaller people are often faster than larger ones) and the fact that she’d still been working on playing while Dottie had done nothing for a good month (sitting a car) caused Kit to be stronger at that time and to be able to knock her over effectively enough. Dottie had let her muscles atrophy, and Kit had continued to work to improve, with even more focus because her sister was no longer a distraction. Several times, Dottie was also sitting on her laurels with her natural ability, but Kit was ALWAYS working. Always with a glove in her hand, less occupied with social things than Dottie.

    Due to the structure of the movie, it wasn’t really made that clear just how good a pitcher Kit was. In one sequence when they were on their way to the series, the progress of the teams was shown in newspaper covers. It was shown that Kit got a shut-out. That means she stopped EVERY player from another team from hitting. From what I know about baseball, it’s a rare thing. Only a top-notch player can do that.

    Lori Petty expressed a lot of struggle and frustration with this character. It’s really hard to sell that in a sympathetic way and she may have failed to do that. Women fighting for things as opposed to simply receiving them for being awesome is not something this society is totally comfortable with. It’s getting better, but there it is.

    It also didn’t help that Home Plate is where the biggest action actually is. We’d be bored watching a shut-out. It’s nice to know a pitcher is good, but it’s no fun to watch in a movie.

    1. See I’m not taking away from Kit, I know she’s worked hard during the season, but do did Dottie! Dottie played most of the season till the playoffs started, which was when she left with Bill, so its not like she was rusty or all of a sudden could t play at the high level el she always did!!
      You mention how earlier in the film, Dottie gets ran over by the Racine catcher which may have hurt her shoulder, but even so she didn’t drop the ball. The Racine catcher is twice the size of Kit and would’ve been coming at an even more powerful force than Kit.
      Yes Dottie did have the look of surprise when Kit hit the high pitch, but I don’t think that would’ve caused her to drop the ball. Kit has always been inferior to Dottie physically. You’re really gonna tell me that this time she gotten stronger than her? I don’t think si

      1. I can’t agree. I thinhk Dottie didn’t practice as much. She played most of the season, but I just didn’t see the same level of dedication. She just stood around a lot by comparisob.

      2. I just be;eive she worked harder and wanted it more. Ther e were no newcllipping sections in the same time period about Dottie it was either her team, or it was Kit and the Belle’s .They were telegraphing this. I do mixed martial arts. Sometimes, the smaller one wins, if they move faster and work harder.

  4. An injury doesn’t always cause an immediate failure, but she did grab her shoulder at that time. It would make sense that she would fail the next time she did that same play. And no, she quit the team for a period of time, a few weeks, literally doing nothing. If you’ve ever spent 2 weeks in bed, this is about the same thing, your muscle tone take a loss.

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