“A League of Their Own” Episode 108 Recap: The Ninth Inning

This A League of Their Own recap contains spoilers. 

It’s not always about winning (though Jess McCready might disagree). It’s about how you end.

How it all will end is a preoccupation for the Peaches, who are playing in the World Series. But exactly how to end also seems to be a preoccupation of show itself. After eight hours with these characters, where do we go from here?

In what might very well be their last game together, it’s the top of the ninth and the Peaches are down by two. Lupe’s arm is shot. The announcer bellows, “if you’re a Peaches fan and you don’t want them to quit, make some noise.” The crowd roars, they haven’t given up yet. Peaches!! Peaches!! Peaches!! And this? This is the dream they didn’t know they were allowed to have. This is what you pretend when it’s a late August afternoon and you’re having a catch — told you it would stick — in your backyard, the fans cheering your name.

Carson stands above her team in the dugout, her voice straining to get on top of the dim of noise, her body vibrating with energy.

Carson: There is nowhere in the world I’d rather be than right here with each and every one of you! We might come back next season, but things will never be the same as they are right now in this moment. All of us, right here, are the original Rockford Pitches. Never again. How do you want this to the end? Show me right now!!!

Joan Jett & the Blackheart’s “Real Wild Child” starts to blare as the Peaches agree together, if they’re going out: They are going to rob the fucking bank. 

“Rob the bank,” of course, is also what Greta and Carson promised each other during their first night in Rockford. Their first night out with colleagues who were going to become friends who will become family. The night of their first kiss. To live in the moment. To steal joy from this often fucked up  life. To. Rob. The. Bank.

And yes, we are talking about baseball seasons here. But are we? There will never be another moment like this, either. If When A League of Their Own comes back for a second season, it will still not be like this. That thrill, that high, of watching something you truly love, for the first time? No matter how much you love it, no matter how many times you will repeat it and love it in new ways (I have already watched this series three times), it doesn’t come back around twice.

I’d love more sports movies if they went like this.

But vrrrrrrrrrm, let’s rewind and take it back for a minute!

Yes, the Peaches have lost the first two games against the Blue Sox, and if they lose one more, then they’re done. They’re out. Real high stakes business and everyone’s understandingly upset about it. Well, everyone except Charlie, who seems perfectly happy to tell Carson it’s A-OK to settle. Hey, she had fun, didn’t she? Won’t this be a great story to tell the kids one day? And isn’t that enough? Seeing a reflection of herself that’s fragmented in Charlie’s eyes, Carson parrots his words to the Peaches, “Well, we sure had a run gals! And maybe that’s enough!” — which as you can imagine, is not the motivational speech they are looking for.

Greta asks Carson, is she going to ever have words of her own again? Or will it just be Charlie words from here on out? Carson scoffs, Greta always knew that she was married. But NO! That’s not the point. This is not about jealousy over Charlie-the-bland-beige-wall. This is about the fact that Greta gave up everything for this, she gave up Jo for this, and Carson is phoning it in! Maybe Carson will return to the safe societal protection of her heterosexual marriage after this, but for the rest of them? This win still matters, and they can’t afford to wash their hands and say “Hey, we tried!”

Carson goes upstairs and tells Charlie that her mean femme girlfriend is right — as mean femmes tend to always be — so he needs to pack his shit and go, my dude. At first Charlie thinks she means to go back to the hotel, but oh no Carson means it’s time for him to leave back to the “not a farm” that they came from. Maybe next week or in two weeks, she’ll return to their miserable life where memories substitute for happiness, but this week she’s still a Peach. She hands him an envelope full of money (the bank wouldn’t let her open up an account, excellent historical detail) and he makes a face as if emasculation was a person. Then he’s gone.

Hi there, hello, if you’ve enjoyed these recaps — have you considered supporting queer independent media?

Meanwhile, Clance has to find a roommate because Max is going on the road with Red Wright’s All-Stars — a montage that includes candidate #1 who loves to clean (Clance: “we’re not just gonna throw a party every time you pick up a broom,  you know?”); candidate #2 who is… young (Clance: “uh-uh, I can’t feel this old everyday!… look at the innocence in her eyes. I would snuff that out in a week!”); candidate #3 is a nameless handsome Black man (Max: “aht! no! I am saving your marriage.”); and lucky candidate #4, Cheryl, who just loves to cook and be quiet and also loves Clance so much that she brought a her some brand new kitchen towels as a present.

The roommate search will have to be on pause though, because — ahem —  MAX IS IN THE CHICAGO DEFENDER!!!!! Which basically means she’s a celebrity now, thank you very much. [Brief Black nerd note: Founded in 1905, the Chicago Defender is a historic Black newspaper that attracted the likes of Langston Hughes and Ida B. Wells, and to this day in many aspects is the paper of record for independent, local Black publications. This has been a recording. BEEP!]

So obviously that means that Max and Clance are goin’ be stunting in sunglasses at the factory!! Max, a star pitcher, and Clance’s Lena Horne fantasies come true. Remember when they were doing the fire in hell “this is fine” meme? Our babies have come so far!

Aunt Gracie joins in on their stroll across the factory floor as hype woman, and yesss we love a supportive gay auntie!! Less exciting is the coach of the factory team who A) has never heard of the Defender 🙄 and B) tells Max that. since she publicly embarrassed the factory team with that arm of hers, now she can pitch for them.. just a few times.. at practice… to see how it works out.

Yeah, that white man can kiss her ass. She’s got a better offer.

A League of their Own review: Chante Adams, playing Max, and Abbi Jacobson, playing Carson, share a beer by the baseball diamond under nightfall.

Ok y’all can’t tell me that Max isn’t FINE fine. Look at the material.

That night Carson and Max celebrate with a couple of beers on Max’s childhood field. She just can’t believe it, she’s going on the road with her own team and a girl she can’t stop thinking about. In episode three, Max told her mother that she believed God was ordering her steps because what kind of God would give her this talent and not let her use it? Miss Toni didn’t understand, sometimes Max didn’t even understand, but now though the thicket of thorns comes a waterfall of goodness. She is precisely where she is supposed to be. She got there by finding herself, and “I’d rather have five minutes of what this feels right now, than a lifetime of before.”

Carson wonders if they will ever see each other again, and Max isn’t sure, but hey, let’s have one more catch for old times’ sake.

The next day at practice, Carson tries her hand at a different kind of motivational speech. She begins by quoting A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, the same book that Greta gave her in the second episode, “Let me be something every minute, of every hour, of my life. Let me be cold, let me be warm. Let me be hungry or have too much to eat. Let me be honorable or let me sin. Only let me be something, every blessed minute.”

You see there’s this tree, and it grows out of cement even though no one waters or pays attention to it, but somehow it still finds a way to grow. And the Peaches are that tree, no one thought they could do this. They only cared about their skirts or their make up, but somehow still, they grew. Here’s the reality: The Sox are a better team. And now they have Jo, who was once the Peaches best hitter. They are better. But damnit, that doesn’t mean that they get to win.

Dove said exactly one useful thing in his time with the Peaches, that locker rooms are sacred spaces where players write their names into the wood like prayers to the Gods. Carson gets out a pen, this is their moment. And may whoever comes next year or next season, or the one after that, always know that they are playing in THEIR house. May they live in every blessed moment. And if they are going to lose? Let it be FUCKING EPIC.

As the Peaches file out, Carson finds a quick second to let Greta know that Charlie-the-bland-beige-wall is gone, and also to tell Shirley that yes, it’s true, Carson is “one of them” — but also Shirley is a brilliant woman who is right now allowing her fears of what’s to come limit what is possible in the moment. If she allows herself the chance, even if it’s overwhelming and scary, there can be another way.

The Peaches win their next game (Greta gets a bloody bruise on a slide to a base and also a job offer from Madam Vivienne of Charm School fame. She’s always been a fan of girls who are “a bit too much”). That night, Carson comes into her room and finds Shirley eating directly out of dented cans. I forgot to mention that one of Shirley’s greatest fears has been botulism, but look at that! All those dented cans! And No! Absolutely No! Botulism! She was keeping herself boxed in, but now she is so free! So free in fact that…

She kisses Carson smack dab on the mouth (they are gonna talk about consent later) and guess what? She’s not gay!! Not even a little gay. It’s not contagious after all! No homosexual feelings. She likes men. Throw Shirley a Straight Pride parade. Oh and Carson, by the way, we’re gonna beat the Blue Sox!!!

(every time I watch this, I scream, because if Shirley Says We’re Gonna Beat the Blue Sox THEN WATCH OUT BECAUSE WE’RE GONNA BEAT THE BLUE SOX, OKAYYYYYYY!??!)

That same night, Max and Clance go over to Max’s parents house for dinner. Clance, who’s very correct to be terrified of Miss Toni, devises a plan that they should say “Buffalo” in case things go left. It takes all of 30 seconds for her to start chanting it under her breath like one of those wwwhhaaanoo whhhaaanoo alarms. Toni’s thinks that Max’s hair suits her, but is otherwise icy about Max leaving Rockford to play ball. Max’s dad is proud of her, as far he’s concerned, she’s already a star — not that he didn’t believe in her, just that sometimes it can be hard to believe in the world.

“Honesty without empathy is cruelty.” — bell hooks, All About Love

And, to her credit, I think that this is also where Miss Toni is coming from too, though she follows that fear to a hurtful and misguided place, a place that’s caused Max indescribable pain and self-doubt. She asks Max to come with her into the kitchen, she wants her to read letters that were written by her grandmother when she first moved to Chicago from the South. Miss Toni knows her daughter. She’s known since she was a little girl that she was never going to have a husband.

Being a Black woman alone in this world without protection, that’s a long and hard road. She wanted Max to have a piece of the salon because with it comes financial independence, with it comes a little bit of freedom, a little bit power. And I believe Miss Toni. I also believe that in an overbearing push to make Max smaller, so that Max could be safe, she almost snuffed Max’s light out completely. I believe that parents, and maybe even specifically Black parents, who are always having to protect us because the world is not safe for us, if they aren’t careful — they become the thing they were trying to protect us from to begin with. They become our unsafe place.

Max, in that moment, seems to really see Miss Toni. She sees that her mother is too scared, too worried, of the dangers of what could be to see the power of who Max has already become right here, right now. There’s nothing else that can be said to convince her, so instead Max leaves with a simple, “Thank you for everything.”

Later that night, leaving a bar with Bert, Max wonders if maybe her mama is right. Maybe she is making it harder on herself. But Uncle Bertie says following your dreams is supposed to be hard, but it’s so worth it — look at him, he’s living his dream right now.

He created a world for himself out of what once felt like thin air, and now he can sit at a park bench with his niece and tell her about all the good gay bars and exactly who to meet, an entire unseen constellation of Black queer stars, each one pointing to the next. This is how we’ve always been able to protect ourselves. He can warn her that yes, she will need be careful who she trusts her with truths, she will need to always be aware of her surroundings, but also not to close herself off from what makes life magic. She and Esther are going to have a great time. Enjoy every minute of it.

Max smiles, catching her breath. No one had ever said “you and Esther” before… maybe she could used to this. She looks at her Bertie, who a few months ago was a phantom haunting her mother’s house and is now the steady hand that’s allowed her to grow into dreams that felt impossible, “thank you Uncle Bert.”

I love them, I love them, this can’t really be over —

It’s the morning of the Peaches final game, the entire team gathered on the porch. Sarge claps her hands, it’s time to go but first — Esti pleads to Jess, “The song! The song! Can we sing?”

Jess, hat as always perfeclyt tilted to the side, starts off: “Batter up! Here that calllllll….”

Esti joins, so sweetly, “the time has come has come… for one and all..”

Terri makes the harmony, “to plaaayyyy, ball…”

The rest of the Peaches come in on the next line, “We’re members of the All-American League, we come from cities, near and far…” and I can’t prove it of course, but there’s a certain nostalgia tucked into their smiles, a genuine joy, of getting to live out this big and iconic moment. Abbi Jacobinson turns to Kate Berlant (Shirley) and starts to scream-sing directly in her face, and it just makes me so happy to see the actors, not just the characters, live out a childhood dream that so many of us shared. To be in a Peaches uniform, to sing that song, to play ball.

SORRY I KNOW IT’S SAPPY!! We can fast forward to the game.

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Carmen Phillips

Carmen is Autostraddle's Editor-in-Chief and a Black Puerto Rican femme/inist writer. She claims many past homes, but left the largest parts of her heart in Detroit, Brooklyn, and Buffalo, NY. There were several years in her early 20s when she earnestly slept with a copy of James Baldwin’s “Fire Next Time” under her pillow. You can find her on twitter, @carmencitaloves.

Carmen has written 498 articles for us.

56 Comments

  1. I cried watching the finale and I cried reading this recap! And now the thirty six hours of the week (cumulative not consecutive) that i wasn’t humming the league song will stand alone because we’re the members of…the all american league

    Sarge and Jess! We have to take care of our own!!

    Lupe and Esti’s double steal! Carson’s speech that rattled my bones! De Luca the Bazooka buoyed on all sides as she becomes the hero of the series just as she deserved!

    Max! In that uniform! And I loved the pride strut through the factory like oh yes it’s me, Max Chapman of the Defender, how do you do. And her telling Clance “you’re my team”?? I cried real tears!

    I once again must shout out to Maybelle Fox who’s just there to play ball, get a break from her kids, and eat her metaphorical popcorn in the house that sappho built

    • So much all this. That moment between Sarge and Jess brought actual tears to my eyes.

      And I’m also supremely glad Max got her HEA. Maybe it’s not going to last *forever*, but for her, the quote of the episode applies so much so: “Only let me be something, every blessed minute.”

  2. I’m that fan with the “I want to be a peach” sign. I’m watching it for the third time now. I really tried to savor it the second time but I couldn’t help but binge through it again. The third time’s the charm

  3. I was staying strong and then when they picked Jo up to round the bases I absolutely burst into tears! Everything about this show has been more than i thought to ever get and these recaps have been magnificent reflections of that feeling

  4. Surely it will have no bad consequences whatsoever that Carson gave Charlie all her money and he now saw Greta and her kissing. All will be well because women and their finances are definitely protected by law, especially in 1943. ALL WILL BE WELL I SAY!

    • What if Carson has to work on a farm during the off-season? As much as I too, hope against hope that Charlie would accept his honorable discharge from her life and return her money to her, I would kind of love that. She could no longer say “I’m not from a farm!” And maybe she’d meet a Dottie-type under a cow?

  5. “That thrill, that high, of watching something you truly love, for the first time?” Yeppp, this was me trying to explain to friends why I binged the first seven episodes and then held off on the finale for a few days because I didn’t want that first watch to be over. It really is special.

  6. Thank you to Carmen and Heather for these consistently great recaps, and thank you as well for spacing them out. I’m so accustomed to seeing other sites race to post their content and capitalize on clicks…it’s understandable, but having one recap posted each day gave me something to look forward to and I was able to really savour the experience. As soon as I rewatch the show as a whole, I’ll be coming back to these posts and I already know I’ll love them just as much the second time around!

  7. I have loved these recaps. Thank you so much.
    “where memories substitute for happiness” is a stunningly painful sentiment.
    I have also really enjoyed how much the cast and crew have been engaging with the fans on social media – from sharing photos, to giving us the text of Greta’s letter. I love that they understand how much this show means to us.

  8. I cried so many times during this, the final episode, that I have a bit of a headache now. Totally worth it! <3

    I have been absolutely over-the-moon about these recaps. I have. Had. So. Much. Fun! reading every single one, and re-reading them, and coming back every time I see new comments! Thank you Carmen and Heather for all the work you did, the ALOTO coverage on Autostraddle has absolutely been the highlight of my summer. So incredibly proud to be an A+ member!

  9. Wow, what a ride! When I first started the series, I was generally giddy on the possibilities of it all—queer kisses in episode 1! Baseball Bombshell Janet! Max and Clance forever!—and as I continued through the season, some of the weight, and the brilliance, of all of the interwoven storylines really set in. But it was reading Carmen and Heather’s recaps, and the interviews, and all of the AS coverage that truly helped me understand, and contextualize, and fully enjoy the intricacies of the show. I will be, as always, doing the Internet equivalent of standing outside the stadium to ask for everyone’s autograph <3

    Regarding Shirley—as an anxious queer woman with a conspicuously Jewish name (it was OttaGoil, but they changed it to OtterGirl at Ellis Island ;) ), it was a little hard to stomach her being the homophobic one, especially since I was watching it with my hair in the exact same braids. But I did appreciate that it was framed as fear of the unknown, rather than just general, unmovable, prejudice. Ultimately, ALOTO is show about women, given space and freedom for the first time, trying to figure out who they are and what they want from their future. Shirley’s journey is sometimes funny and sometimes cringey, an all-too-familiar representation of an anxious person trying to control her increasingly unpredictable world. I’m hoping that there will be another season (!!!) for her to figure out how to actively plan her future rather than worry about the myriad things (real and imagined) that might get in her way.

    • I also wasn’t very offended by Shirley’s homophobia. It’s played as part of her overall very sheltered background and general fear of sex both Hetero and homo- while being very horny. Also kind of part of her fear of contamination in general. Although there is very real homophobia in the series, I think the actual reality was much worse

      • Oh for sure, I don’t disagree– overall, it does make sense for both her character and the historical context. I think it was just a bit uncomfortable to see someone with whom I have a lot of other things in common react very differently than I would, especially with limited representation. But that discomfort is a useful part of the viewing experience, especially for a period piece.

  10. this show really knocked it out of the fucking park. thank you Carmen & Heather for the recaps to make it more of a communal experieenenenenenenece & your devastating captionssssss.

    part of it is that the team included a lot of of INCREDIBLE Black writers and directors, many of them queer – here are some of them i’ve been able to find besides the actors –

    Writers – Desta Reff (also EP on this, and a director herself), Mfoniso Udofia, Chik Agwuna, Gbemisola Ikumelo, and another person whose name i can’t find anywhere but i saw them in a picture on Gbemisola Ikumelo’s instagram
    Directors – Ayoka Chenzira, Katrelle Kindred, Anya Adams

    PS i just learned today Jamie Babbit co-Exec Produced with Desta Reff, and also directed the early episodes?!

  11. PPS PLEASE JOIN A++++++++++++++++

    yknow how you love Uncle Bertie & Aunt Gracie’s parties? And Vi’s bar? AUTOSTRADDLE IS THAT FOR THE INTERNET. You saw the person who walked into Uncle Bertie & Aunt Gracie’s drop some cash in the little jar by the table. You saw people drinking beers they paid for at Vi’s. We gotta make sure the people who make space for us can pay their rent. they knew it, we know it.

    JOIN A++++++++++

    Join Our Queer Community! Become an A+ Member!

  12. I love this show, I love these recaps, I love Autostraddle, I love lesbians, I love the way that these characters already mean so much to us. That’s my brain right now. I just love.

  13. I just wanted to let you know that these amazing recaps are the thing that finally tipped me over to becoming an A+ member. It’s been such a joy to read and watch along with you to this incredible show. Thank you thank you thank you.

  14. thank you Carmen and Heather for these extraordinary recaps (which often were more like essays in themselves) which I looked forward to every day — and to the whole AS team that worked so hard to put together such fantastic content on ALOTO.

    I’ve been telling everyone I know to watch this show but in the meantime the care and excitement here on AS has been my main companionship in falling in love with this show. Thank you all (others commenters included!).

    This finale did not disappoint (although I wish I had exercised more self control and paced my watching) and I will be crushed if we don’t get a S2.

    I hope we can look forward to delving more into Jess, Lupe, Jo, and Shirley if that happens! (Much as I also care about Carson/Greta and Clance and Max too).

  15. I waited a little longer to read this one, just so I could savor it. Thank you Carmen (and Heather!) for the INCREDIBLE care and love you put into these recaps. It has made watching the show (for the second time) so much more delicious and fun and everything good to have your voice in my ear while I did. To laugh and shake my head in agreement, to learn a little more about you through how you viewed the story and the characters. I hope we get to do more of this very soon.

  16. The only thing I could ever possibly love as much as this series has been Autostraddle’s coverage of it.

    The daily recaps are also the sole reason I kept myself from bingeing the whole series in one go!

    My heart is full and I’m probably going to spend the rest of my life trying in vain to rewatch this series as many times as I’ve watched the original movie.

  17. YES. As much as I could not wait to tear through this PEACH of a show, I absolutely couldn’t wait to hear what Autostraddle had to say about it!! Thank you for all this coverage, and narrating our journey through Oz 😚😚😚

  18. Thank you so much for these recaps and all the coverage. This show gave me so much joy and having the supplemental content here made it that much more enjoyable and ease a bit of the empty feeling that comes with finishing a show that you love with all your heart.

  19. What a great show, it feels so good to have this high storytelling quality and a lot of historical details and powerful messages. I loved the characters.

    Thank you so much for the great recaps Carmen and Heather, I read them all between each episodes and it brought a lot to the pleasure of watching the show!

  20. I have been savoring these recaps and the show as I approach my third rewatch, so that the feeling of the first view is there for as long as it can be, because it’s so good! I have never watched Broad City, but have listened to and enjoyed Abbi Jacobson guest starring in podcasts. So seeing her and Roberta in the trailer, and the heavy promotion from Autostraddle was all I know going in. And goodness, has it been a pleasant surprise and experience. I, too, did not expect an ensemble of queer representation and storytelling at this level! The theme of queer joy, finding queer elders and communities within the reality that we live in. The queer codes. Max finding Bertie. Max and Carson’s parallel. Max and Clance’s relationship. Jo and Greta. Lupe and Jess. Bev and her girls. Clance and Guy! My heart feels so full with these characters and their relationships. And after the articles and interviews, I love it even more. The creators and writers knew what stories they wanted to tell, even the flawful ones. So to know their intentions and see it come across on the show, that in itself feels like a new experience. As mentioned, so much love and care was poured into Max, and you can see it! I appreciate Abbi’s love for Carson. This show felt like a deep breath of fresh air after all of the cancellations and shortcoming comeback/finales. It feels like an answers to the asks of:
    -Can we tell complex queer stories?
    -Can we see queer joy and love with the harsh reality just as a backdrop?
    -Can queer characters exist (with joy) within their own family and community?

    As always, thank you for the wonderful recaps by Carmen and Heather. Not only have you continued to put into words a lot of what I and others think and feel about this show, I also learned a lot through these recaps. 

  21. BLESSINGS BE ON belevaird_st on Archive of Our Own for handling WHAT HAPPENED when Max went in that room with her brand new unifooooorrrrrrm!

    Srsly tho, fanfic writers I love youuuuuuuuuuuuuu, this is your moment, go forth & ROB THE BANK!!

  22. Just watched the finale last night and it was so fucking good. And being able to come here and read the recaps and talk about the show with the AS community is just amazing.

    Thank you Carmen and Heather, and take note publicity people – this is the power of queer indie media, you should use it.

  23. This show is so special. This coverage is just as special. I have not enjoyed something as much as I enjoyed this in a really long time. This show is like the best show I’ve seen all year, maybe even more than that. Thank you Carmen and Heather and autostraddle for putting this coverage together and for the joy watching this show has been with you. Yall are truly one of my favorite places on the internet, and I watched this show because I heard about it from you. Love you all to pieces <3 and SO READY FOR SEASON 2!!!!

  24. I’m about a month late to this party (having just finally watched the show this week) but I had to come here and leave a comment anyway.

    I loved this show more than I’ve truly loved a piece of media in a long time. I love that there are queer creators out there now making television FOR US. Because there is no doubt that this show is for us. We don’t have to settle for scraps any more, for the stereotypes and the queer-baiting and the sweeps-week kisses and the tragedy. We can have a whole cast full of real, nuanced, flawed, lovable, joyful queer characters. This show is so special, I could literally go on and on but I won’t. I’ll just go watch it again, and catch up on all the coverage here because I know you all will give it the love and care it deserves. ❤️❤️❤️

  25. I too just watched last week and have been reading the recaps one at a time to extend the amount of time I have ALOTO-related content, because I don’t want to let go of this feeling. Thank you Carmen and Heather for the recaps. I’m often unpleasantly surprised when I read recaps of shows on other platforms, because they often will literally recap the episode and that’s it, or provide some surface-level commentary or opinions—AS recaps are really so so special, the care and the thoughtfulness and the rooting in queer experience, the critical thinking even on shows that the writer loves, and the voice and personality so that I feel like I’m talking to a good friend—someone else said they provided “companionship” while they watched, and that expresses it perfectly!

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