Tom Hanks signs on to help celebrate Penny Marshall, ‘A League of Their Own’

Staff Report

ROCKFORD – Actor Tom Hanks, who played Rockford Peaches manager Jimmy Dugan in the 1992 film “A League of Their Own,” is joining 11 actresses from the movie as honorary co-chairs of a September celebration honoring its director, Penny Marshall.

Rockford and the International Women’s Baseball Center is holding the Penny Marshall Celebration on Sept. 13 and Sept. 14 to thank her for lifting the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League – and our own Rockford Peaches – out of a dusty corner of baseball history and putting them on a national stage.

Marshall died last December at the age of 75.

The weekend will include a “Play Ball for Penny” on Friday, Sept. 13, at Indoor City Market, 116 N. Madison St., and then a Saturday unveiling of a replica of the first of nine pylons – large commemorative signs that will honor individuals or groups important in women’s baseball history. The unveiling will take place Saturday, Sept. 14, at the future museum site of the International Women’s Baseball Center across the street from historic Beyer Stadium, 245 15th Ave. 

Beyer was home to the Peaches from 1943 to 1954. The Peaches were the New York Yankees of the AAGPBL, winning the league four times (1945, 1948, 1949 and 1950) and finishing second three other seasons.

The first pylon will honor Marshall and her role in bringing “A League of Their Own” to the screen. Tracy Reiner, Marshall’s daughter who played Betty “Spaghetti” Horn in the movie, will be in Rockford for the celebration.

Hanks is a two-time Academy Award winner for best actor and a five-time best actor nominee. He joins Geena Davis, who played catcher Dottie Hinson, in the movie as honorary co-chairs along with Megan Cavanagh, who came to Rockford last summer as part of the 75th anniversary celebration of the Rockford Peaches, Renee Coleman, Ann Cusack, Robin Knight, Patti Pelton, Lori Petty, Anne Ramsay, Bitty Schram, Kelli Simpkins and Freddie Simpson.

The fact that so many have joined the effort to honor Marshall is a testament to her pioneering role as a female director in Hollywood and their affection for Tracy Reiner, Marshall’s daughter, who played Betty “Spaghetti” Horn in the movie.

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