Netflix’s Documentary About A Lesbian Couple Is A Reminder That Latinas Also Inspired ‘A League Of Their Own’
If you’ve yet to tune into Netflix’s released documentary “A Secret Love,” you must check it out. Apart from painting a very vibrant and beautiful love story that has stood the test of time, politics, and social taboos, it also has so much for supporters of the LGBTQ community to learn and absorb. Particularly when it comes to the storyline of the two stars and their connection to the 1992 film “A League Of Their Own.”
As it turns out, one of the stars of the film was a member of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, a women’s league founded in 1943 that had all-female players. In the film, Terry Donahue, who was a catcher for the Peoria Red Wings from 1946 until 1949 and is not Latina, explains that during the time of the league’s run, women were recruited from the midwest of the United States, Canada, and even Cuba. This revelation led us to a pretty cool realization about the history of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, which was left out of the film “A League Of Their Own.”
Cubana baseball players were left out of the 1992 film which starred Geena Davis, Madonna, and Rosie O’Donnell.
Among the seven women born in Cuba who joined and played for the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League were players Zonia Vialat, Luisa Gallegos, Mirtha Marrero, Migdalia Pérez and Gloria Ruiz. All seven women joined the league in 1948. The next year two more Latinas by the names were added, Isabel Alvarez and Isora del Castillo.
In 2011, the AAGPBL teammates from Cuba were honored at a ceremony in New York City where they had their names and photos presented. One of the baseball players involved in the league, Izabel Alvarez even had a documentary created about her experience in the film “Cuba on My Mind: The Baseball Journey of Isabel Alvarez.” Alvarez in particular has been very vocal about her time in the league as a Cuban female baseball player.
According to Grand Valley State Oral history project, “Isabel Alvarez was born in Havana, Cuba in 1933. She grew up in Havana and played baseball with the neighborhood kids and was also involved with other sports. In 1947, she pitched her first exhibition game in American baseball and was picked by the All American League and sponsored to come to the United States with three other Cubans to play baseball in 1949. She played pitcher for the Chicago Colleens from 1949 through the 1950 season. When the Chicago Colleens folded, she went on to play for the Fort Wayne Daisies during the 1951 and 1954 seasons. Upon getting her citizenship in 1953 she stayed in the United States permanently. During her six-year baseball career she also played utility outfielder and also played briefly with the Battle Creek Belles (1951); Kalamazoo Lassies (1953); and the Grand Rapids Chicks (1954).”
Speaking about what sparked her interest in baseball, Alvarez chalked it up to her own mother.
“I think very—my mother was all sport orientated and she knew it was healthy, so baseball they played in the street you know and she let me do the sports, but she didn’t let me do any other things,” says in the video interview. Alvarez who lives in the United States went on to say that she remains very fond of her time in the league, particularly of the Cuban women who joined her. ” If I never would have met those people I would be back in Cuba yet. My mother would cry then, but I’m so thankful, you just can’t imagine how lucky I’ve been. I think I have been, of all the Cubans and I’m not bragging, I have been the lucky one.”
You can check out her full interview about her time in the league here.
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