The movie A League of Their Own has charmed audiences since its release in 1992, providing a fictionalized but empowering portrayal of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League that began during World War II. Comprised of the Rockford Peaches, the South Bend Blue Sox, the Racine Belles and the Kenosha Comets, the AAGPBL was initially begun to keep public interest in baseball while men were off serving in the war.
The Rockford Peaches won four championships during the 12-year run of the AAGPBL, the league best. The Peaches are the protagonists of the film A League of Their Own, as well as the focus of a group of women now, many decades later, who have decided to embody the Rockford Peaches once again. Keeping true to uniforms and character, the new Peaches make up a historically accurate replication of the women’s softball team during the 1940s and 1950s.
The team was started by Rebecca Tulloch, a history buff who had bought a replica of a uniform in 2009 and took inspiration from men who played in vintage recreational leagues. Tulloch spread the word of her homage to the AAGPBL and eventually recruited enough people to form the second coming of the Rockford Peaches.
The team of about 20 regular players contains a combination of history fans who love the historical re-enactment and former athletes who love the game. The team plays with 12-inch softballs and vintage gloves, sticking closely to the details of the time period. Their shoes, though modern black athletic shoes or cleats, hide brand logos such as Nike to maintain authenticity.
Modern Peaches have even attended the reunions of the first Peaches, who are now senior citizens in their 80s and 90s. Tulloch told the New York Times about her experience with the original Rockford Peaches, saying, “When they go to these reunions, I think it takes them back to their 20s, because their eyes light up and they are 20 again. It’s fantastic.”
During the 1940s, the Peaches were the face of the home front during the war. They played for every year of the AAGPBL’s existence and held the league record. In their honor, the International Women’s Baseball Center was unveiled in Rockford, Illinois, moving from its previous location in California and serving as a place to promote and preserve generations of women’s baseball.
Tulloch, who is also the league manager of the new Peaches, hopes that this new community can one day achieve four full softball teams, just like the original All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. For now, she and the one team dress up, act, and play ball, recreating and continuing the tradition of the Rockford Peaches every summer.
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