The movie’s director, Penny Marshall, insisted that the women cast in the film must know how to play baseball in real life. Before filming began, the actresses trained for eight hours a day, six days a week for more than seven months. They learned to slide to the bases by using Slip ‘N Slides until they nixed the idea when Tracy Reiner and Megan Cavanagh suffered concussions.
2. Geena Davis Auditioned in Penny Marshall’s Backyard
Geena Davis was the last one to be cast after actresses Debra Winger, Laura Dern, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Demi Moore all passed. Davis was the least experienced baseball player, but got the role after playing catch with Marshall in her backyard. Although she had hardly any experience, she outplayed most of the other girls when on set.
More than 1,700 extras were used in the movie. They endured long, hot days in the summer in Indiana. To keep them entertained, the members of the cast performed for them on breaks. Tom Hanks did puppet shows, Rosie O’Donnell did stand-up and the rest of the cast would perform imitations and/or led group sing-a-longs.
Madonna was amazing in the movie, but rumor has it that she was difficult to work with. She refused to entertain the extras like the rest of the cast, she wouldn’t give out any autographs and she often complained when she wasn’t the focus of a scene. She also wrote a nasty letter to a friend about her experiences and in the letter she called Geena Davis a “Barbie Doll” and complained that there weren’t enough good-looking men where they were filming.
The ladies played real games with multiple cameras set up in order to get enough footage for montage scenes. They were rough with one another and really played the game. They banged up their bodies and were frequently bruised. The giant strawberry bruise Alice gets while she is sliding into base was a real injury and it lasted for more than a year.
One of the more memorable moments in the movie was when Jimmy Dugan pees in front of the whole team in a drunken stupor. When they filmed, Penny Marshall stood in a stall where she couldn’t be seen and made the pee sounds with a hose and bucket. That way, no one knew how long his pee would actually be, and it would keep everyone on their toes. The pee wound up being 53 seconds.
The role of Ernie Capadino was written specifically for Jon Lovitz. When he visits Dottie and Kit at their family dairy farm and the girls are seen milking cows, the cows are making a whole lot of noise. He even improvised the line, “WILL YOU SHUT UP?!” It turns out that one of the cows off-screen was giving birth, which is why it was making so much noise. The farm named the cow Penny after director Penny Marshall.
While the ladies did most of the playing themselves, Davis needed a double in one scene. Although Davis proved to be an extremely talented player, there is a fancy slide in a scene that Davis could not pull off perfectly. They decided to bring in a double to do it.
Marshall cast her daughter, Tracy Reiner, as the role of Betty “Spaghetti” Horn. She also cast her brother Garry as Walter Harvey when Penny couldn’t afford Christopher Walken. Then Garry’s daughter, Kathleen Marshall, was cast as “Mumbles” Brockman.
The first cut of the movie was four hours long. You can find all of the deleted scenes on the special-edition DVD and Blu-ray releases. The deleted scenes include Kit having a pitching battle with a group of men at a bar and Dottie revealing more information about her relationship with her soldier husband Bob.
It looks like Madonna had a hard time "getting to third base." While she worked just as hard as the rest of the cast in baseball training, Madonna could not get third base down. They finally moved her character Mae to the outfield because she couldn’t master fielding ground balls.