Book Review: No Crying in Baseball 

Stories from the Movie A League of Their Own

My fabulous friend Erin Carlson wrote another book and it just came out! She’s an incredible entertainment reporter and film historian who’s written for all the pubs, Vanity Fair and Town and Country, and she’s been interviewed countless times nationally on CBS Evening News, Entertainment Tonight, etc. 

Plus she’s a San Franciscan and we always love it when our hometown sheroes shine. 


Her most excellent new book is NO CRYING IN BASEBALL: The Inside Story of A League of Their Own. The subtitle is: “Big Stars, Dugout Drama, and a Home Run for Hollywood.” Faboo, right? Over thirty years later, we still quote that iconic line delivered so juicily by Tom Hanks; It’s super fun to mimic. There’s no crying in … and we insert all the things that make us cry.

In fact the other day I said, “There’s no crying in ball gowns!,” because someone at the Symphony Opening Night Gala stepped on my train and ripped a hunk of tulle off, and a piece of my heart too.

But just because there’s crying doesn’t mean there’s no resilience, toughness and wide capability. It doesn’t mean Bronx tomboy Penny Marshall can’t make a baseball movie that kicks down the boys’ locker room doors. Carlson says: 

“I loved researching and writing this deep dive into the making of the beloved baseball movie, which centered on a motley crew of women ballplayers and their surly coach, Jimmy Dugan. Fun fact: A League of Their Own made more money at the box office than its male-driven counterparts, Field of DreamsBull Durham and The Natural — I love that!”

There’s always immense satisfaction in a story where women are doing a great big thing and everyone’s like women are meh this is gonna be dumb and it turns out to be resplendent (ie Barbie movie) and makes untold gobs of money and everyone is like oh wow women can showbiz. Carlson positions No Crying in Baseball to be even more than a big swipe at misogyny. It’s the story of our most favorite people and how they got to be culture creators and what happened when they all got together to make herstory. 

Erin Carlson does her damn homework. The book is arranged in nine chapters – INNINGS could you die? Brilliant. And like home plate it’s covered in the dirt of the many steps it took to get here. Backstories abound about all your favorite stars: Madonna, Tom Hanks, Penny Marshall, Rosie O’Donnell. Even the backstories have backstories: There are fifty thorough pages at the end that are Source Notes, and they suggest even more incredible backstories: “Geena Davis to the author”… “Rosie O’Donnell to the author.” Ahem! I hope Erin’s interviews all took place at The Polo Lounge over coupes of champagne. Carlson says:

“My favorite scoops from the book involve Madonna, who played “All the Way” Mae Mordabito, and Tom Hanks, who played Dugan. Tom was a good-natured troublemaker on the set and penned an anonymous gossip column called Peach Phuzz. It arrived each Friday on Xeroxed paper and reported observations about who was seen canoodling with whom, and so on. Toward the end of filming, it was discovered that Tom wrote the column. He was A League of Their Own‘s very own Lady Whistledown!”

I believe I speak for everyone when I say WE WANT MORE PEACH PHUZZ. Erin’s book is Peach Phuzz Part Deux: How did Penny Marshall become Penny Marshall? Erin will tell you. Is Madonna fun and easy to work with? Erin will tell you. Was Geena Davis an elegant presence on the Midwestern ball fields? Erin will tell you. Is Tom Hanks the best most genial person to work with in the entire world? Erin will tell you! Did anyone fight or smooch? Oh just wait for Erin to tell you! 

I adored revisiting this film in Erin’s exciting new book, revisiting this time and these people in that time, and combining the wisdom of today with the fullness of context that Carlson provides. Brava! If you aren’t ordering this book, you’re OUT! 


QUEEN MERYL: The Iconic Roles, Heroic Deeds, and Legendary Life of Meryl Streep

I’ll Have What She’s Having: How Nora Ephron’s Three Iconic Films Saved The Romantic Comedy 

SUBSATCK: You’ve Got Mail (of course it’s called that!) 


*Speaking of Queen Meryl, did you know that San Francisco has its own Meryl Streep Film Festival? I give you MERYLTHON, September 29 – October 1 at the Four Star Theater on Clement Street. Founder Evan Roberts presents what Erin Carlson says is a “super fun, campy Meryl Streep-focused film festival,” that benefits Queer LifeSpace, a nonprofit that provides affordable therapy for the Bay Area’s LGBTQIA+ community. Three days of Meryl in her most delicious, iconic roles, plus comedians, drag queens and cardboard Meryls, all for a great cause. Is Queen Meryl a queer icon? Come find out!

*In NYC this week? On September 30th, hit the Batting Cages at Chelsea Piers with author Erin Carlson! Enjoy a batting mini-clinic featuring the nonprofit organization New York Girls Baseball. Erin says please “swing” by lol isn’t she the best? This event reminds us of the real stars of A League of Their Own, whom Carlson covers of course, the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, 12 years of awesomeness, 1943-1954. Three cheers for the Rockford Peaches, one of four clubs in the league’s first season, out of Rockford, Illinois. Happy reading!

XOXO Stephanie Block @howdyblock