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“We’re Telling a Story of a Generation”: How ‘A League of Their Own’ Explores the Experiences of Black Women in Baseball

In an oral history, the team behind the Amazon TV show reboot of the 1992 film of the same name explain how they dug up the largely unknown stories of real players to tell the tale of fictional pitcher Max Chapman.

In Amazon’s A League of Their Own TV show, the experiences of women in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League are just half of the story.

A scene in Penny Marshall’s 1992 film of the same name inspires the other half of the series, which debuted Aug. 12 on Prime Video. In the sequence, Rockford Peaches catcher Dottie Hinson (Geena Davis) fields a painfully fast throw from an unnamed Black woman (DeLisa Chinn-Tyler), who comes down from the stands to return a foul ball. It’s one of the movie’s most memorable moments because of what it alludes to beyond its brief screen time: the history of Black women in baseball.

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Given the chance to expand the story Marshall told, which itself was based on director Mary Wilson and producers Kim Wilson and Kelly Candaele’s 1987 documentary about the AAGPBL, co-creators Abbi Jacobson and Will Graham decided their TV series would go where the film hadn’t. The result was Max Chapman, a fictional Black female and queer pitcher portrayed by Chanté Adams.

Her initial chance to take to the field amid the launch of the All-American Girls League is denied because of the color of her skin, a move that turns A League of Their Own into a tale of two fields. Based in part on the experiences of three real Black women in the Negro Leagues — Toni Stone, Mamie Johnson and Connie Morgan — and Billie Harris, a Black softball player dubbed the Jackie Robinson of softball, Max’s storyline goes on to chronicle how the young queer Black woman makes her own way through the world of the white- and male-dominated sport.

Those women’s influence on Max’s story has made the fictional pitcher the first interaction, for many viewers, with a generation of baseball players that mainstream history has forgotten.

The Hollywood Reporter spoke to the people involved in constructing Max’s narrative about the research required to build out the character from the lives of real women, the intention behind telling her whole journey on and off the field, and the realities and significance of a woman like her taking the mound in the 1940s.

A 2,000-Page “Research Bible” Guided the Series’ Storytelling

A League of Their Own recruited a large team throughout the production process to help re-create this moment in baseball history — from former players, their descendants and academics to series researchers, writers and department heads. Consulting producer Liz Koe led the charge for the pilot, alongside researcher Niko Gutierrez-Kovner, who began the process of reaching out to living players like Billie Harris for their stories.

WILL GRAHAM, co-creator, executive producer, director and writer Where we came into it was knowing the movie — knowing what the movie touched on and didn’t touch on because it was 1992 and it’s a two-hour film — and knowing that this had to be a story that was really about this generation of women who wanted to play ball and not just one team. This story is also about finding your team on a bunch of levels. So we knew it was going to demand a team in the writing process, in the research process, in the production process.

DESTA TEDROS REFF, executive producer and writer The research process, I would say, was very long and very extensive. When you’re stepping into a large, beloved IP like this, for lack of a better term, you have to come correct.

GRAHAM As soon as we started working on the show, we started doing research. That meant speaking to every person we could possibly speak with — players who played at this time like Maybelle Blair. We spoke with more than 20 women who played in the AAGPBL (All-American Girls Professional Baseball League), we spoke with many women who played outside of it. We had a conversation with Billie Harris, who people call the Jackie Robinson of softball.

REFF I think part of what excited Will was the chance to go into more of the stories — not just of the All-American Girls League. But he’s a big baseball buff, so it was going into the baseball of it all and seeing the depth of the stories that had not been told.

GRAHAM In the pilot, our co-executive producer Liz Koe amassed 2,000 pages — that might be conservative — of an incredible research bible that covers the history of Rockford [Illinois] and the history of the AAGPBL. All of the managers, the chaperones, the players, the factories, Black women in baseball at the time and industrial teams. She found these incredible anecdotes about Black women forming softball teams and baseball teams inside the factories in response to not being allowed to play on the newly formed female teams. Some of it is reflected in books and history. Some of it, I think, is stuff that we were really looking at for the first time. In the series, that was carried forward by Natalie So.

NATALIE SO, series researcher Niko and Liz worked on a lot of the research for the pilot. Then when the show was greenlit, I took over and worked on the rest of the season, wrangling the whole trove of research.

GRAHAM Every department had access to our research bible. But also people inside of each department were in charge of amassing their own research on clothes or specific machines that they would be using in a Screw Factory, or every other thing you can imagine. I think everybody from every aspect just wanted to get it right.

SO There were hundreds of books, honestly, and I do think books provide a good overview, but when you’re making a TV show, a lot of times you’re trying to capture the actual texture of daily lives. A lot of that isn’t in history books. That has to come from people themselves. So a lot of the oral histories of people like Billie [Harris] were really important to informing the show.

REFF We were able to speak to Bob Kendrick, the president of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. He had a lot of really great stories.

BOB KENDRICK, president of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum The role of the museum was more as kind of a buffer to provide historical backdrop and not necessarily just me alone, but our team here. We were honored that they reached out and wanted the museum to play at least a role of some sort.

REFF There was [Negro Leagues catcher] Josh Gibson … his great-grandson, Sean, was a consultant. He’s in the show and he helped us find players in the area we could bring on. We got to go to his field. Even just speaking to Black people living in Rockford about what the town was like, what baseball was like — it was really important to infuse that in the story. It was always about orienting around the research because I think there was a real focus on authenticity.

The Show Had to Go More Personal for Max’s Story

With limited information about the history of Black baseball and softball players, the series relied on oral histories and pulled from the available research on three Black female Negro Leagues playersToni Stone, Mamie Johnson and Connie Morgan.

CHANTÉ ADAMS, actress When I read the script, I thought, “OK, if they’re doing a remake in this era, you have to have some people of color in it.” But once I sat down with [Abbi and Will], I learned that it was so much more than that — that Max is actually based off of Toni Stone, Mamie Johnson and Connie Morgan, three real women I had never heard of. Society does not know their names, unless you are familiar with the Negro Leagues, unless you are fans of baseball and Black baseball, in particular. So I was excited to dive in through my personal research. But there’s not as much out there as there should be, if I’m being completely honest.

KENDRICK We’ve been at this now for three decades and I still feel like we just scratched the surface in terms of people’s knowledge base as it relates to the very rich history of Black baseball in America. I do think because of the work that we’ve done for the last three decades, more people now are aware than ever before. But we still got a long way to go.

SO It was bringing together a lot of different sources, a lot of different stories, finding a lot of oral histories, so that we could even get a little glimpse of the lived experience of a Black woman playing baseball or softball in the 1940s. It’s true there was less history written about these white female baseball players, but there are a lot of white female historians who have devoted a lot of time to excavating the stories of these white women. So, by and large, there’s just much more written about white players. There are not a lot of living players left, either — Billie is one of the few.

ADAMS [The show] was able to bring me everything they could find on Black female baseball players, specifically baseball, while also incorporating softball because the discrimination wasn’t any different. Through that, we found Billie Harris, whom I met [at the L.A. premiere] and completely fangirled over. Unfortunately, we’re doing this at a time when all three of the other women have passed away, so I can’t connect with them directly in the way that other people in the cast get to connect with Maybelle and her counterparts from the All-American League. So forming Max became a combination of the research that I got and pulling from my own familial stories of my grandmothers and my great-aunts. 

BILLIE HARRIS, retired pitcher and player for the Arizona Ramblers, Yakima Washington Webb Cats and the Sunshine Girls When they interviewed me, I didn’t know what it was all about. I didn’t know what type of part Max was. I was just happy to be interviewed and not forgotten.

SO For me, it became really clear that how history is written determines what is remembered, what experiences are erased, and what experiences are put forward and highlighted. We have a transcript of Billie talking about her story in our research and a lot of that history, especially of Black baseball and softball players, is left out of textbooks. People aren’t writing about it. So Billie telling her story was really valuable to us because if she wasn’t, we would have almost nothing to go off of in terms of the lived experience of someone playing softball at that particular time.

The Show Wanted to Honor — Not Be the Arbiter of — the Stories of the Real Women Who Inspired Max

For the show’s research, Harris shared the joys and hardships of her six-decade career. That began at 16 at a segregated school where the girls wouldn’t play with her because she “threw too hard,” before she joined the all-white softball team The Sunshine Girls. Those kinds of details — being turned away at the All-American tryouts, like Johnson; having to play catch with a wall, like Harris; and facing down hecklers on the field as all of the Black female players did — helped shape Max’s story into something authentic.

GRAHAM All of the show started from going back to these authentic stories underneath the movie but also underneath this whole generation of women who wanted to play baseball. There’s the amazing story of Connie Morgan, Mamie Johnson and Toni Stone, who were in the Negro Leagues. But beyond that, there were the stories of other women like them, like Billie, who didn’t get quite as far but were part of this whole generation that had similar experiences in leagues across the country.

KENDRICK I got to know Mamie Johnson before she passed away. I didn’t get to know Toni Stone or Connie Morgan — they had both passed before I got involved with the museum. But I was very close to Mamie. She was so proud of the accomplishments that those three women had created. She understood that they had a unique place in history and in the history of this game.

HARRIS For years I was the only Black player on my team. For three of four years, I played for the Yakima Webb Cats, and in late ’69, returned to Phoenix and started playing with the Sun City Saints. I only played one year of professional ball, and that was back in 1976, but I played for six consecutive decades, some kind of ball — fast pitch, slow pitch, even no pitch. (Laughs.) I didn’t realize that until they started counting off my years, because I only stopped playing when I was 74.

REFF With a lot of these stories — and I think this is a function of when you become the first — people want to hear about your successes and they don’t want to hear about your struggles. Those are the stories we don’t get to tell, and I think that is the opportunity in creating Max as her own person and her own character. We get to explore that. 

ADAMS I am no stranger to playing real women and having to do that experience, so I was very intentional about this not being a replica. I am not playing Toni, I am not playing Mamie, and I am not playing Connie. But we do want their spirits and their stories to shine through Max. What was important to me was that we were pulling from those kinds of experiences and those stories to make it as authentic as possible. It was important for people to know that these things that Max is experiencing aren’t things that we just made up in our heads. 

HARRIS [The team] used to chase the hecklers out of the ballpark when they would start calling names — after the team got to know me, and appreciate the fact that no matter what [the hecklers] did, I was still there. Sometimes the hecklers in the stands would just start calling me names, and several times they stopped the game and chased the heckler out of the ballpark.

KENDRICK You had to be tough on both [counts] because not only were you going to deal with racism, you were surely going to deal with sexism. Now, by and large, [in the Negro Leagues] the players were accepted, but you can rest assured some questioned, “What the hell are you doing here? You don’t belong here.” So yeah, those women were strong. They were athletically gifted. They were tenacious. They were tough. And somehow, they were still team players — because you still got to fit in as part of a team even if teams don’t want you to be there.

REFF Max is inspired by the paths of these women, but she’s her own character because we want her to live and exist in her own space. We want to celebrate and highlight the challenge of those women’s journeys without telling their stories because those aren’t ours to take ownership of and tell in that way. Connie Morgan, Toni Stone and Mamie Johnson are the women that we all talk about, but there are hundreds of others who played in so many different ways that Max is also inspired by.

Max’s Journey With the Game Had to Be Different Than the Peaches

Max and the Peaches’ stories begin on the same field, but those involved with the show emphasize that, as a Black woman, Max’s experience would not have been the same as that of her white counterparts, according to their research. It helps explain why Max’s story involves less field time and gameplay.

ADAMS A lot of people when they talk to me, they’re like, “Oh my God, we’re so sad. We don’t get to see Max in the Peaches uniform.” I’m like, “Um, I’m not.” I always go back to my favorite quote by Mamie Johnson when she was in the Negro Leagues. She said, “I got to play ball and I didn’t have to wear a skirt to do it.”

KENDRICK Mamie was the only one that wanted to try out for the All-American Girls Professional League, and, of course, she was denied that opportunity because of the color of her skin. But as fate would have it, shortly thereafter, the Indianapolis Clowns [of the Negro American League] came calling, and so she got to not only fulfill a dream to play professional baseball, she got to do it there right alongside the fellas. So maybe it was fortuitous that she didn’t get that opportunity to play in the All-American Girls Professional League.

REFF The screen times, they’re equal, but the baseball is different because it is a different journey. Carson (Abbi Jacobson) is able to step on the field. Max can’t. In episode two, Max is envisioning who she’s pitching against. It’s Josh Gibson. The only real space of showing the Negro Leagues [in season one] is the draft version. But we did talk a lot about the factory teams because she’s trying to get on the factory teams. And barnstorming was such a big part of baseball at the time and a different type of baseball that people don’t know. Part of it is an art, and part of it is showing the difference of what you had to do to play. Max doesn’t have the same opportunity, so we have to show it in different ways.

HARRIS When [the softball team The Sunshine Girls] went to a tournament in Tempe, I was seen by the ASA team the PBSW Ramblers. They asked me if I wanted to come up and practice with them, so I would catch the bus every weekend from Tucson and go toward Phoenix. We would stop in Casa Grande to get something to eat, but I couldn’t be served in the restaurant. They would serve me in the kitchen. What they didn’t realize is that I got the best food, because in the kitchen, the cook was Black. I just took a sandwich back on the bus and would nibble off of it on my way to Phoenix. And when I’d get to Phoenix, they would find a Black family for me to stay with during that weekend. After the weekend was over, I’d get on the bus and go back to Tucson. We did this for several years before they attempted to try to let me come to the team and play.

KENDRICK When these players went into other towns to play, their reputations oftentimes preceded them. Towns were shutting down to watch these athletes put on a show. But yet, when the game was over, fans who had just cheered them wouldn’t even give them a place to eat or a place to stay, so they would sleep on the bus and eat their peanut butter and crackers until they could get to a place that would offer them basic services.

GRAHAM Something that our [writers] room spent a lot of time talking about was what does it mean to be able to imagine a life and a dream for yourself that the world doesn’t show you any evidence is possible — and to be able to stick to and realize that dream. I think that is at the core of Max’s character. So you really want to see Max play, and you want that moment. We really wanted to see that moment. At the same time, you don’t want to make it feel too easy. Otherwise, you’re not giving proper respect to what these women, these Black players, really had to do to get to the field.

ADAMS When Max puts on the uniform for the first time, and even me and my fitting, I got kind of teary-eyed because I was like, “It’s finally happening. She’s gonna get this moment that she has worked so hard for and had so many obstacles to get to.” I thought about Toni and Mamie and Connie and how much they had to endure to get to that moment of finally being able to put on a uniform. It was probably similar to the way that those white women felt when they saw the article that they could join a team. Black women probably thought the same thing when they saw that ad but arrived on that field and were told that they couldn’t do what they loved, even though they see all of these other women doing it. I hope the audience feels the weight of those moments — of what it means for Black women in sports to finally have found a team.

Max Being a Pitcher Has Significance On and Offscreen for Black Players

In the series, Max is a pitcher — a position the creative team chose based on their research of the Black female Negro Leagues players as well as Black women like Harris in softball. It was a choice that visually upped the dramatic stakes the few times Max did get to play, but it also speaks to the real and discriminatory treatment of Black pitchers.

GRAHAM When we looked at those stories of Black female players, many were pitchers. I think part of that is that it’s a place where you can even out strength differences and part of it was that’s what a few players were, so it spiritually felt right.

KENDRICK There were certain positions in the game that carried stereotypical beliefs that these were thinking men and thinking women’s positions. And when you look at the history of Black folks and baseball, particularly after integration, you didn’t see very many Black catchers in the major leagues. You saw very few Black pitchers in the major leagues. The guys who were pitchers were oftentimes converted into outfielders. I think part of the reason was there was always this prevailing belief that we weren’t smart enough. People didn’t believe that we were smart enough to be pitching. I think also part of that was, if we were going to play, we play every day. You don’t get to sit and work once every four days. You are going to earn your money. So it’s kind of interesting that this show takes on a different perspective.

HARRIS When I first started playing for the Ramblers, they would send me out of the room and they would say to the team, “We are going to Connecticut, but don’t expect to play [more than] two games because all we have is Billie.” We went to Connecticut and instead of playing two games, we ended up playing seven and we came out in third place. That’s better than what they had expected of me as a pitcher. They gave me an All-American honor, and they wondered how in the world did I become an All-American when they didn’t expect to play but two games.

ADAMS The first time she actually pitches, Max is in her head. There was a lot on her mind and the stakes were really high. She had also just found out that this moment isn’t what she thinks it is. … There wasn’t any specific point in the research that we based that moment off of. But we thought Max deserved to have a really epic sports moment and so we were building up to at least Max having one win in the baseball world the whole season. That moment in the movies that you get chills at the end, where you don’t know if the team is gonna make it or if they’re gonna win: We wanted that for Max’s story.

REFF You get to episode seven when Max gets to pitch, and you have to feel everything because this is her moment. This is our moment with her. I was there. Just the crane shots and the following — just the vibrancy of feeling what she feels to pitch because it’s not like the Peaches. It’s not that easy for Max because of the world.

ADAMS When I was approaching it, it was like a dichotomy. She’s about to go on this mound that she failed miserably on before and has not been on since. And as if being in this space isn’t painful enough, she is also finding out that that team has a woman on it. That is heartbreaking and inspiring for her at the same time. There’s also this newfound freedom that Max has as she approaches the mound, having entered into this new realm of self-discovery. She’s, at that moment, feeling like she has nothing to lose: “This moment is not gonna get me on a team, but at least for a second, I get to feel like I’m a part of one.”

GRAHAM This is a moment [in time] when people could feel all of the rules were suddenly suspended. People were aware that this wasn’t necessarily going to last and that they had to get where they were going quickly if they wanted to take advantage of some of those changes and possibilities. That’s a big part of the energy of Max’s story.

How Max Found Her Team Was About More Than the Sports Drama

A League of Their Own was prepared to take on the disparities in the player experiences of Black and white women during the 1940s. But because of its diverse writers’ room, it was also looking to unpack the shared experiences among Black women and queer people.

ADAMS The difference between that first moment and the moment that she gets on the mound, in the end, is that she is approaching it with her love for the game and also gratitude for Esther (Andia Winslow) for giving her this opportunity.

REFF That’s a moment that has a lot of meaning to me. It’s less about being a Black player, and it’s more about just being a Black person. This is a Black team run by a Black man, but whenever you’re the only of anything — the only queer person, the only person of color, whatever — that’s the initial way space is made. We have one spot, so there’s a competition there that is so painful because it’s not like you want to compete for that spot.

ADAMS Max is a Black woman trying to succeed in a white male-dominated field. As am I. You’re setting the example, you’re the representation, and you’re showing that this thing is possible, but every other Black woman that is considered your peer could possibly take that. As actors, we experience that constantly.

REFF We talked a lot about [that idea of one spot] in the writers room because it was a very diverse writers’ room — not just people of color, but queer, trans, nonbinary people. All of us, in one shape or another, have been in that spot: There’s one seat at the table and there are two people. What you usually do is you fight for that seat, but that’s not the problem. We’re not the problem. It’s everybody else at the table telling us we have to fight.

ADAMS I love that part between Esther and Max because somebody could possibly be your competition, but you can also recognize there’s room for both if we work together, if we are encouraging and uplifting each other. Esther has that light bulb moment in her head of, “I could be the only one, but what happens in a world where I’m not?”

REFF We took a moment to recognize that through Esther, saying, “I did see you as competition but I realized that’s the trick. That’s the scam that they’re playing on us. It’s me versus you — but it’s not.” I think there’s a lot of different ways we play with “team” in the show, and finding a team in Esther was really what pulled Max into that opportunity. Toni Stone, Mamie Johnson and Connie Morgan — they played on the Clowns and the team at some point had overlapping female Black players. So it was about that, showing that we can make space in that way. 

Max’s Queer Storyline Helped Bridge the Past and Present

The show carved out space for the history of not only Black women in baseball but also Black queer people in the series’ expanded telling of ’40s female-led baseball. The decision was partly inspired by the real-life stories of female queer players but also by a desire in the writers room to connect the past with the present.

REFF I’m queer, Abbi’s queer, Will’s queer, and I think there’s something exciting about stepping into these queer stories which were real and existed. For me, personally, we’re showing what the different roads to baseball are and how that is shaped by who you are and how you get to move in the world.

GRAHAM We tried to learn everything that we possibly could, and then we looked at the world now to find the places where it really felt like those two things were talking to each other. We sometimes made decisions because of something that we wanted to touch on in the contemporary world to do something that wasn’t totally reflected in the research. But we always wanted to know exactly where we stood in relation to it, and we always wanted to make sure that we were telling the stories with an authentic lens and an authentic voice.

SO The only resource that I was able to find in terms of the lived experience — not a male historian writing about the experience, but the actual experience — was the abandoned Ph.D. thesis of a woman named Roey Thorpe, who in the ’90s collected these oral histories of queer individuals who lived in the Midwest between the ’40s and ’70s. She was able to interview both white women and women of color. But even in that sample size, there’s an even smaller sample, who were women of color interviewed.

ADAMS There’s no evidence that [Toni, Mamie or Connie] were queer, but I think it was just important for us to incorporate these possible stories. Because we couldn’t just have queer life exist on the white side. It was important for people to recognize that Black queer players and Black queer people existed in general.

REFF We did research and explorations of queer spaces — both Black and white — and what they looked like, trying to highlight and showcase that. It was really important to us on both sides that we’re telling a story of a generation of women. So you have to show all the spectrum and nuance of those women. And this is a story that celebrates these Black women players, that celebrates their queerness, that celebrates Black Rockford and Black love and all the nuances of that.

ADAMS We get to see Black queer life in so many different shapes and forms, and I think that being able to explore Max’s sexuality was probably one of the best parts for me as an actor because she doesn’t know who she is. She just knows what she likes and she knows who everyone wants her to be. So throughout the season, we get to knit and weave that together.

GRAHAM So much of the story is about community — finding a community and finding these mirrors of yourself even if they’re not complete.

Max’s Team Stretched Beyond the Field Through Its Portrayal of Black Rockford

Because Max was not able to immediately take to the field, her journey to playing was defined as much by what happened off the mound within the Black working community of Rockford. To tell that part of her story, the series pulled from real Rockford residents’ experiences with baseball as well as factory life in the 1940s, while leaning on archival research to help with location scouting.

GRAHAM We had some ideas of how we wanted to tell Max’s story, but before we really put pen to paper on anything, we did a huge amount of research and that was where the factory story came from.

REFF Max’s trying to get on the factory teams and the factory teams were, as we see, integrated and in essence, semi-pro. She’s not playing in a stadium in the same way, but it’s a big field and they are a draw. So it has to feel big and legit and professional, but also be in reference to the factory because you had to work at the factory to be on the team. Feeling the industrial-ness of that field was important. In a lot of the shots when they’re playing, you can see the factory is prominent behind them because it was such a tight space.

SO We found bits in our research, like one factory team in Washington that was an all-Black female baseball team.

GRAHAM Rockford was the hub of war manufacturing in the Midwest, so we touch on the experiences of Black women working in those factories. People know that story from the Rosie the Riveter set of images, but I don’t think they do, as clearly, know the stories of Black women working in those jobs and the Double Victory movement. It was so much fun to watch Chanté welding on set with the real-life Black women who are doing those jobs now, who were the doubles and the background actors — just like the coaches with the baseball scenes. I felt like that was a moment I hadn’t seen onscreen before. It just felt like an incredible world to bring Max into. It told the story of what women who weren’t allowed to play in the AAGPBL had to do in order to realize those dreams — and it’s a lot.

HARRIS When I played with the Ramblers, I had to quit my job every summer in order to go on the trips. Sometimes I was gone for 10 days, but they would take me back. Finally, even some of the workers came out to watch me play. They kind of enjoyed the fact that I was working there, and they could have something to talk about.

REFF What was exciting about some of the research of World War II was how there were a lot more opportunities job-wise and income-wise that opened up, which translated into a larger celebration of these sports. Black people were coming to these games in droves.

KENDRICK In those African American communities where you had successful Black baseball, you typically had a thriving Black economy. We were inherently proud of this product known as the Negro Leagues, and we went out and supported it tremendously. We had our own heroes, so to speak. They were so much a part of the fabric of those communities. Today we admire athletes from afar, but back in those days of segregation, they ate in the same restaurant I ate in and went to the same barbershop I went to. Negro League baseball was bringing, I refer to them as “segregated mandated,” Black-owned businesses, a built-in clientele that led those businesses to economic heights.

SO I was actually able to, through two members of the Black community in Rockford — Joyce Higgins and Pat Yarborough — get introduced to a group of Black women who were alive in the 1940s.

GRAHAM We had amazing conversations with a group of Black Rockfordians in their 80s and 90s because it was in the middle of the Great Migration and this migration associated with the war and industrial jobs. We wanted to understand what places they went to eat and their actual experience of the town and the way it was changing.

SO We brought them onto a Zoom call in the writers room and were able to ask them questions about daily life in Rockford. What it was like growing up there, living there — there were certain neighborhoods that more Black people lived in. So I got a sense of what it was like in those neighborhoods, where they would go play and what they did recreationally.

REFF We had a lot of conversations about the fields. Some of it was dictated by location, but we were also trying to show the different dimensions of baseball. Booker T, which is like Max’s childhood field, we did a lot of location [scouting] for how we could find it and how we could find it in a way that felt real to Max and real to the Rockford we wanted to see, as far as space and time.

GRAHAM The whole show in season one is about finding your team that you play with and the other team that gets you to the field. It’s Max’s community, her family, her people. In the finale, she tells Clance (Gbemisola Ikumelo), “You’re my team.” We wanted to tell the story of what that took and having to get the job in the factory and having to go through all those steps on those teams. But it brings her to a place where she doesn’t just find a team. She also finds out that she’s not alone on multiple levels.