This A League of Their Own recap contains spoilers.
The news of the nation is that the men are off winning the war against fascism and the women are playing baseball, but in makeup and skirts while knitting baby blankets in the dugout and fixing their lipstick on the pitcher’s mound. The men are beating up Hitler! And the women are still women! The news of Rockford, Illinois is that Carson Shaw literally cannot keep her hands off Greta Gill. They’re making out in the shed, making out in the garage, making out in the woods. Carson is so razzed up she’s not even being careful anymore. One night, Greta thinks she hears their teammates tromping through the forest and pulls away from Carson, and Carson smooshes their lips together even harder and tries to convince her it’s just an owl making a nocturnal ruckus. When they arrive back at the house, Greta tells Carson to go in first. Not for reasons of subterfuge; no, Greta just wants to gaze upon Carson’s catcher’s bum.
No longer content to climb Greta like a tree every night, Carson decides she’s going to orchestrate some roommate swaps on their road trip to Kenosha so she can finally crawl on top of Greta in an actual bed. It’s easy to get Sarge to agree to the plan because Sarge loves the spirit of collegiality. And it’s easy to get Shirley to carry out all the roommate swapping machinations because she’s got the perfume allergies, she absorbs other people’s dream energy, she doesn’t want to be engaging in any transference with the girls who wear aftershave, etc. Dove’s the only one who gets a hotel room on the trip. The Peaches end up staying at a convent, where they’re only supposed to talk if they’re praying or doing acts of service, which: I guess what Carson has planned does sort of count as that second thing. When one of the other players asks her why she’s acting like it’s Christmas morning, Carson says, “I’ve never been in a convent before, and I just love… god.”
As soon as they’re in their austere little nun room, Carson locks the door and pounces on Greta. This time Greta stops them because Carson is literally not breathing. She says maybe they need to calm down, take a few deep breaths, eat a snack. She says they have all night and all day tomorrow; there’s no hurry. Carson disagrees. This feels VERY urgent. But also she is a little hungry. Somehow they score a charcuterie board from the convent kitchen. Just kidding, I know exactly how. Convents are full of gay women and Greta is lesbian catnip. She probably marched right into that cookery, put her hand on her hip, winked, and one dozen sausages and cheeses just appeared before her.
Carson and Greta have a picnic on their floor, and Greta finally explains why she left with that soldier that night at the bar. She has rules that keep her safe, and one of those rules is: whenever she’s starting something with someone new, she always lets herself be seen on the arm of a man. Carson only hears “with someone new” and wonders how many other women Greta’s been with, and how many of them were married. Greta raises her eyebrows and tells Carson exactly what she knows about all this: Yes, she’s been with other women; yes, she’s been with other married women; sometimes it even helps their marriages. In the end, Carson’s going to go back to Charlie the way all women go back to their husbands, and what they’ve had here will be a fun memory, that one summer that was all making out and baseball, time out of time. Carson thinks there’s a line she’s going to cross with Greta that will never allow her to go back to Charlie. Greta’s done this enough times to believe that line does not exist.
Max has received her first paycheck from the screw factory, and she’s never held so much money in her hands in all her life. She thought it would be heavier! Clance wonders why she’s so excited about it on account of Toni gives her money for everything anyway, but this is Max‘s money and she’s going to do Max stuff with it. “No baseball gear!” Clance says — but she would not be opposed to Max buying one of the fancy Hollywood evening gowns she keeps seeing in her women’s magazines. And, actually, she wouldn’t be opposed to coming to work with Max at the screw factory, now that you mention it. She knows Guy’s not going to like the idea — and no, he does not — but she’s not going to lose the house they just bought! Which will absolutely happen with Guy off at war and not bringing in any tips! It’s just another thing that depresses Guy to the point of not being able to get out of bed. Max decides the first stop on her Maxie Millions tour will be ordering some eggs from her mama like she’s at a diner, and that goes just about as well as you’d expect. Frankly Max is lucky she doesn’t end up with a bowl of yolks on her head!
The best thing about Clance getting a job at the screw factory — okay, there’s a lot of best things, actually. Clance and Max are hands down the best relationship on this show and one of the best friendships I’ve ever seen on TV. So one of the best things is it means they get to cut up with each other all day. But one of the other best things is their route to work takes them straight by this house where Clance has a feud going with a bunch of kids. I don’t know the backstory, only that I’ve scarcely related to a fictional character more in my life than when Clance stops to yell at these boys on a porch about how Speed Jaxon is ten times the man Captain America ever will be, and one of them says Captain America is boring, and Clance goes, “YOUR FACE IS BORING!” without missing a beat. And she just keeps on walking. Now that I’m thinking about it, I’m remembering Clance has a lifelong vendetta against these kids because they borrowed one of her Superman comics and got peanut butter on it? She’s correct to punish them mercilessly for the rest of their lives! Original mint condition Action Comics sell for MILLIONS OF DOLLARS these days.
Clance’s first day at the screw factory is also the day Max finds out her supervisor, Beef, is gone, which means she’s finally got a shot at making it on the baseball team. She leaves Clance in charge — “Uh. Hi! I’m Clance! I just started here! So, uh, WHAT DO WE DO? WHAT’S THAT THING?” — to go beg the coach for a tryout. He asks her to give it a rest and she says no and he finally caves and tells her she can pitch for him this week. Max is so excited, she even agrees to go on a double date with Guy and Clance. Guy can cook for them, which will bring him back to himself, and Max can get some tips from Gary about how to impress the coach.
Things get weird real fast on the Peaches’ Kenosha trip. First of all, Dove leaves in the middle of their first game. Just takes Carson’s scouting cards and skedaddles on out of there in a suspect huff. Second of all, Kenosha cheats in their night game! They keep messing with the lights to blind the Peaches! Luckily, Lupe and Carson, who are co-coaching the team in Dove’s absence, are in complete sync. They flip that scene where Geena Davis and Tom Hanks throw different signs at the players from inside the dugout, signing in complete unison with each other. Greta backs Carson for the coaching position, Jess backs Lupe. Ultimately Sarge decides they should coach together. This surly queen loves her Peaches, and when the chaperone from the other team comes over to complain about the Peaches stealing bases, despite the “gentleman’s agreement” not to steal, Sarge legit goes, “Maybe that’s the problem, Deborah — we don’t seem to have any gentlemen left.”
Unfortunately, the collegiality doesn’t hold. When Carson still doesn’t support Lupe starting, the whole team starts choosing sides and yelling and finally they end up brawling with each other in the middle of a game, which Sarge is then forced to forfeit. Ball-chasing pound-hounds!!!!
Despite all this, Carson will NOT be thwarted in her plan to cross the line with Greta. She’s so turned on by Greta’s confidence in her, and Greta is so turned on by her confidence, they finally have sex. In the nunnery. Directly below a crucifix. Truly perfect. No notes. Greta not only breaks one of her rules by publicly declaring herself Team Carson in front of the entire Peaches roster, she even holds Carson’s hand in secret on the bus ride on the way home. Jo tries to warn Greta that she’s not being careful, but Greta tells Jo she’s just jealous. Two things can be true at once, Greta!
Speaking of Jo, she ends up rooming with Jess at the nunnery and is so impressed when she notices that Jess wears boxers. She asks where she got those things, and Jess says she bought them for her “brother.” Next time we see Jo in the dugout, she’s wearing boxers too! And inviting all the players to kiss her bicep for good luck, which they’re happy to do. All this, plus the fact that Jo keeps talking about Katherine Hepburn in pants, makes Shirley think Jo is queer. She’s been told it spreads too, the queerness — and the only cure is a lobotomy! No one else seems concerned about it. Maybelle just shrugs it off because she, too, thinks Katherine Hepburn is hot in pants. Carson tells Shirley not to tell anyone else about her queer theory.
It’s going sideways for Max, too. Her double date with Gary turns out to be a complete disaster. Guy manages to get dressed, clip his toenails, cook a delicious dinner, and even serve it up to his friends. But three bites in, Gary shares the news that he’s been offered the starting pitcher job for the screw factory baseball team, even though the coach promised to give Max a chance. She, of course, storms out of the house and then rips into Gary.
Max: As I have stated and proven, I could destroy you at baseball in every way!
Gary: Yeah but who cares?
Max: I CARE! IT IS LITERALLY THE ONLY THING I CARE ABOUT BESIDES CLANCE! HAVE YOU MET ME?
Gary: You are so weird, and yet, I cannot stop throwing myself at you.
Max: Yeah well you’re as good at that as you are at throwing a baseball, which is NOT GOOD.
As if that’s not bad enough, Max returns home to find out that her mom’s sibling, Bertie, is in town, and Toni is so upset about it. Because, the thing is, Bertie is gay, okay? G A Y. And Max reminds Toni so much of Bertie. Toni’s afraid if Max keeps up this baseball stuff, she’s going to turn gay too. Max’s dad wonders if that would really be so bad. And Toni adamantly declares that it would. It would be the worst possible thing.
So with all that swirling around in her head, Max stomps out to the field the next day and offers two weeks salary to anyone who can hit off her. The guys take her up on it. She steps onto the mound, tries to center herself — and completely chokes. Terrible pitch after terrible pitch, all of them get blasted into the deep outfield or over the fence. The coach gives Max her money back and tells her to just go. It’s almost too heartbreaking to watch.
Also too heartbreaking? Clance finally gets Guy to open up about why he’s inconsolable. The first thing he says is that he’s afraid of being in battle and losing his glasses. (My heart!) And then, besides the normal war stuff of getting constantly shot at, there’s the racism that’s surely as terrible in an army uniform as it is civilian clothes. What bodies are they going to throw at cannons? If it’s between Guy and some white dude getting life-saving medical treatment, who are the doctors going to help? It’s everything terrible about white supremacy, in a war zone. Clance scoots close and tells him a new story, about Lieutenant Victory. His fears, they make him stronger, because his fears mean he has a reason to come home safely. Guy’s love for Clance makes him afraid and also gives him power. Guy lets Clance hold him, and he promises to come home to her.
By the way, Dove has quit the Peaches. He’s taken a job with the Orioles, likely on the back of Carson’s excellent scouting reports. When Sarge tries to convince the team Dove’s just on a personal leave of absence, Shirley starts panicking that he’s dead, and Esti is like “What is everyone saying??” and Jess makes a slicing motion over her neck, like, “Dove’s dead” and Esti freaks out too. Shirley thinks they simply cannot go on without a man, any man, even the scoreboard guy would be preferable to no men. Jo thinks Greta should coach because she’s tall and you can see her from anywhere. There are worse ways to choose leaders — like the United States electoral college, for example! — but, once again, Greta chooses Carson. Out loud. In front of the whole team. Looks like Max isn’t the only one barreling toward a wake-up call.
Every episode of A League of Their Own is streaming on Prime Video. Editor in Chief Carmen Phillips and Senior Editor Heather Hogan will be trading off recaps, one a day, every single day, for the whole first season. See you back here tomorrow!