Welcoming back ‘A League Of Their Own’June 19, 2017
By ALLEN LAMAN
HUNTINGBURG — After Tom Hanks screamed, “There’s no crying in baseball,” the city of Huntingburg was never the same.
This past weekend, nearly 26 years removed from the filming of that scene, Huntingburg residents — many of whom were extras in the film — and other visitors dressed up in dapper World War II-era clothing and sipped cocktails in celebration of the upcoming 25th anniversary of the film’s release. Several of its stars made guest appearances. Later in the night, the premiere of a nine-inning documentary spotlighting the making of the film was shown.
On Saturday afternoon, the Rockford Peaches and Racine Belles sported pink and yellow vintage dress uniforms and clashed in an exciting softball game rematch that ended in an 8-8 tie. Later in the night, the Dubois County Bombers defeated the Hopkinsville Hoppers 8-5 in front of a crowd of 2,300, bringing the team’s record to 12-2 on the season.
“I think the turnout has been fantastic from the very beginning,” Huntingburg Mayor Denny Spinner said in a press conference after the softball game. “I think it’s just everything we can hope for.”
Filming took place at Huntingburg’s League Stadium in 1991, and then-mayor Connie Nass recently said it brought excitement and a sense of pride to the area and gave the community a boost. At the cocktail party at the Huntingburg Event Center, Executive Director of the Indiana Office of Tourism Development Mark Newman described the movie as having become a part of the culture of the city, region and country. And dressed in black heels and a black dress, Bitty Schram, who played Evelyn Gardner in the movie, said the flick was special because it helped the town and also empowered women on screen. She added that movies like it simply aren’t made anymore. Justin Scheller, who played her on-screen son, Stilwell, also returned to Huntingburg to join the festivities.
Schram explained that during the filming of the movie, she never expected it to be as big of a success as it was. Produced on a $40-million budget, “A League of Their Own” earned $132,440,069 in lifetime grosses, according to Box Office Mojo.
“When you usually do films or plays or anything, you don’t know what’s going to happen with the project,” Schram said. “You just don’t. You can have the perfect script, you can have the perfect cast, it can be the hottest thing, and it goes nowhere. This just happened to become a classic, and I did not think anything of it.”
Schram later joked that she doesn’t like watching any movies she’s been in unless she can control the editing. At the “A League of Their Own” premiere in 1992, she walked out of the theater when the lights went off. She still hasn’t viewed the movie all the way through, but she has watched the scene where Hanks reminds her of baseball’s No. 1 rule.
Although she doesn’t currently own a TV, Schram said she tends to flip past the movie if she comes across it on a channel surf. Scheller does the same, but once as a teenager, he stopped for a brief moment when he saw a younger version of himself running up the aisle on the Peaches’ bus and blinding the driver.
“I flipped past it, and I flipped back, and I just said, “‘Holy (expletive), I’m on TNT,’” he said. “And I was just like, that is really weird. And then I flipped it back to ESPN or whatever. That was the first time it kind of dawned on me like, ‘Wow, that was a big movie. I’m on TV right now.’”
Both Scheller and Schram expressed gratitude to Huntingburg and its residents for welcoming them back.
“They treat you like you’re an absolute superstar even though you had a tiny little part in a movie,” Scheller said. “They treat you like royalty.”
Schram added: “What’s great is that you know that you had an impact. Such a positive impact on Indiana and your community. And other cast members feel that way as well.”
Schram lives and continues to act in Los Angeles. Her most recent project was “Moments of Clarity,” a dark comedy released in 2016.
Scheller, who was born in Evansville, recently left a job as a social studies teacher and head football coach at Springs Valley High School. He currently lives in the French Lick area but will move to Bedford this summer. He is now employed by Eastern Greene High School in Bloomfield, where he will be an assistant football coach. Scheller has been married to his wife, Beth, for six years. His role as Stilwell is his only acting credit.
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