That Movie was on again the other night, oddly enough. And, not oddly at all, I watched it again.
It is, of course, "A League Of Their Own," Hollywood's rendering of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, and if it takes a few liberties with history -- this is Hollywood, after all -- it makes up for it with its heart and its soul and its warmth. It's quite simply one of my favorite sports movies, and not just because Tom Hanks utters one of the epic lines in all of moviedom ("There's no crying in baseball!").
No, what I love about it comes at the end, when they roll the credits over footage of actual AAGPBL alumni playing baseball on Abner Doubleday Field at Cooperstown. They are all in their 60s and 70s at the time, but they are still athletes, moving with the ease of athletes, clearly attuned even then to the peculiar American rhythms of swinging a bat and fielding and throwing a baseball.
That never fails to strike me, no matter how often I watch the film. And this time, particularly, because, through happenstance or some karmic detour, a couple of days later the news came down that Vivian Kellogg had died.
She passed in Jackson, Mich., on Friday, and what a life she lived. Born into a family of six in 1922, she came to the AAGPBL in 1944 as a Minneapolis Millerette, then joined the Fort Wayne Daises in 1945. She played first base for the Daisies until 1950, when injuries forced her to retire.
She lived long enough to see the AAGPBL gets its own wing in the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1988, and, four years later, to see Hanks, Geena Davis, Lori Petty et al memorialize the league on the big screen.
A bunch of AAGPBL alumni gathered in Fort Wayne that year to see the local premiere, and I was lucky to be in the audience with them that night. I can't recall if Viv Kellogg was among them, but she likely was. What I do recall is the absolute magic of being in the movie theater when those last cinema verite images came up on the screen, and voices started rising out of the darkness: "Hey, look! There you are!"
Maybe that's why that scene remains special for me after all the viewings. Or maybe it's something else.
Maybe it's because they were special.