‘A League of Their Own’: The Rule Geena Davis Broke to Get Dottie

Celebrating the thirtieth anniversary of the original A League of Their Own, actor Geena Davis recently revealed the rule she broke to land her iconic role as Dottie Hinson. Up against the likes of Demi Moore and Debra Winger, Davis was not the first in line to play the refined yet rugged catcher, Dottie.

To land the role, Davis needed to show A League of Their Own’s director, Penny Marshall, that she was ready to play ball.    

Geena Davis smiling
Geena Davis | Kelly Lee Barrett/Getty Images

A League of Their Own’ auditions involved a lot more than reading lines

Based loosely on the true story of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL), A League of Their Own is a powerful feminist story. As such, Marshall knew that casting the movie—particularly the role of Dottie—needed to be about more than who looked the part. Marshall insisted that all the women cast had athletic ability. 

Auditions involved months of intense training for the actors. Marshall described the process to Major League Baseball (via Hollywood.com), saying,

“There was a big tryout where they were judged on running, catching, hitting. Throwing is always the hardest for girls because they throw differently. But I would not read (audition) – and really good – actresses unless they could play ball, or were trainable.”

Geena Davis as ‘A League of Their Own’s’ Dottie Hinson 

It is hard to imagine 1992’s A League of Their Own without Davis as Dottie Hinson. At six feet tall and the perfect mix of femininity and toughness, Thelma & Louise’s Davis seems like she would have been a shoo-in for the role of the Queen of Diamonds, but Davis nearly lost out on the role on the advice of her agent. 

During a reunion interview to celebrate the 30th anniversary of A League of Their Own, Davis tells The Hollywood Reporter that her agent at the time gave her one piece of advice before meeting Marshall for the audition: “Don’t throw a baseball.” 

Davis continues, recalling her meeting with Marshall and saying, “I can follow that direction: Don’t touch a baseball,” says the actor who went into the audition with no athletic background. But, after a successful meeting, Davis recalls Marshall saying, “Let’s just go outside, and you throw the ball.” 

Following her agent’s advice, Davis politely declined, saying, “Oh, no. I was told you were gonna ask me that, and I’m sorry. I can’t.” 

Marshall insisted, and Davis finally agreed. “Five minutes later, I was in the yard throwing the ball,” Davis says. “Just one throw convinced her that I would be able to learn how to play.”

Amazon’s new ‘A League of Their Own’ series

Now, the story of the AAGPBL is getting rebooted into a new A League of Their Own Amazon Original series. Like the classic 1992 film, the series will focus on the creation of the League; however, new personal stories will be told. 

Filming began this July in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, after a casting call that required all auditioning actors to have “knowledge and experience playing baseball or softball” (CBS News). So, it seems the new A League of Their Own series has taken a note or two from Marshall’s playbook, and the series’ new stars will, like Davis, need to be able to play ball. 

RELATED: Abbi Jacobson Says ‘A League of Their Own Series’ Will Differ From the Movie in an Incredibly Important Way