A League Of Their Own's Most Memorable Moment Came From A Throwaway Line

We all know there's no crying in baseball. What's incredible is that the cast and crew of "A League of Their Own" had no idea it would become the film's most legendary line.

Ranked right in the middle of AFI's top 100 movie quotes, Tom Hanks' retort as the surly coach Jimmy Dugan has become a common refrain among baseball fans and movie buffs alike. In the scene, the Rockford Peaches' right fielder Evelyn Gardner, played by Bitty Schram, throws home, accidentally throwing away a two-run lead for the team. When Dugan starts yelling at her, as any livid baseball coach would, Gardner begins crying. Hanks' delivery of the line is perfect: he squints, and at first, softly asks "Are you crying?" before whipping into a frenzy. It's a relatable and hilarious scene for anyone who has played on a team and received the ire of their insane coach.

The film's screenwriters Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel knew that Hanks' character would lay into Gardner, but they had no idea how great the scene would turn out. The idea, according to Ganz, was to illustrate the difference between the former Cubs slugger's time in the majors and the more feminine world of women's baseball that the Peaches inhabited:

Hitting it out of the park

As Ganz put it:

"The idea was to show the disconnect, that the cultures were completely different. It didn't come from Tom, but in being him as we were writing, it flowed out of his mouth. ... It's a first-draft scene. First-draft dialogue."

When the cast shot the scene, Hanks' costar, Geena Davis, didn't think it would register in the annals of cinema history either:

"We knew it was hella funny ... But I didn't know that was going to be a classic. That line is a signature, right up there with 'Hasta la vista, baby.'"

Part of the line's fame comes from Hank's iconic delivery. The actor told MLB that "no crying in baseball" didn't hit it out of the park during read-throughs of the screenplay. But in a script like "A League of Their Own" that has such a high metabolism for jokes, it would be hard to register the best quips on the first read. 

A Jumbotron-worthy line

When they finally filmed the scene, Hanks said he was free to let out his rage:

"When we shot it, Bitty Schram dissolving into tears and humiliation gave me the go ahead to be DEFCON 5 with outrage — and just keep going. That Penny used it all was the wonder of it. The actual dialogue has some jokes in it that didn't matter, as it was Jimmy's boiling rage at the idea of crying in baseball that carried the day and the scene, making it worthy of Jumbotron clip packages at ballgames."

Hanks added that there's a great callback later in the film when Gardner messes up again and Dugan must suppress his anger. Director Penny Marshall loved moments like those in the film.

That famous line is now played over countless Jumbotrons and yelled out by gruff dads at Little League games. It's now enshrined in Hollywood history by the Writers Guild, which requested the original handwritten page from Ganz and Mandel for a display in their headquarters alongside other famous scripts.

Somehow my personal favorite line from the movie, "Avoid the clap. – Jimmy Dugan," never quite got the fame I think it deserved.