'A League of Their Own' Inspiration Maybelle Blair Comes Out

'A League of Their Own' Inspiration Maybelle Blair Comes Out

by Camille Bavera

Pride Month is officially over, but despite the internet's sarcastic calls for the gays to go back into hiding now that it's July 1, A League of Their Own inspiration Maybelle Blair is just coming out.

The All-American Girls Professional Baseball League star, who served as the main source of inspiration for Penny Marshall’s A League of Their Own in 1992, as well as the upcoming Amazon adaptation, has officially come out at 95 years old, proving it's never too late to live your truth.

After hiding her sexuality from friends and family upwards of 80 years, Blair shared the news in front of an audience — strangers and relatives alike — at a live Q&A for the upcoming Amazon film during the Tribeca Film Festival. “I thought, ‘Well, Maybelle, you did it.’ And then afterwards, I got shaky because I forgot about my nephews [in the audience] for the moment. I went home and I could hardly sleep because I was so scared,” Blair said. “But anyway, the phone started ringing and it was my nephews and they said, ‘Maybelle, we’re so proud of you for coming out.’”

Blair credited the new Amazon series, A League of Their Own, with giving her the strength to come out after living in fear for so long. “I was always afraid that somebody would call me into their office and say, ‘Maybelle, you’re dismissed because we found out that you’re a queer,” she said. It never felt like the "right moment" until speaking with series filmmakers Will Graham and Abbi Jacobson, who began probing Blair in their quest to showcase an authentic portrayal of what life was like for AAGPBL players in the 20th century. Blair’s experience was a driving theme. “They asked me all sorts of questions... I tried to answer the best way I could,” she said.

According to Blair, Penny Marshall’s vision for the original film and the final product were two different ballparks. “Penny would have loved to have shown it [in the film] but in her day, it wasn’t accepted [then].” The 1992 hit starring Madonna, Lori Petty and Rosie O’Donnell, was the first time women and baseball shared a big screen. “We could not believe that they were doing that part of our life and showing that women did play baseball,” said Blair, adding that a dozen or so players were invited to hang out on Marshall’s set.

Hear more about Blair's story when A League of Their Own premieres August 12 on Prime Video.

Photo via Getty