by Timothy Shimura/OC Register
MISSION VIEJO – Megan Cavanagh said there was no opportunity for girls like her to play softball growing up in Chicago in the 1960s.
A few decades later, she went on to play second base for the Rockford Peaches as Marla Hooch in the 1992 movie "A League of Their Own," based on a real-life all-female baseball league formed during World War II. Cavanagh and her fellow cast members, including Madonna and Geena Davis, have inspired generations of girls and women to play sports.
"It changed my life at the time I did it, and then on," Cavanagh said. "I have so many people that still come up to me practically daily and say, 'Oh my God. I love that movie. I've watched it a million times.'"
She was among five Peaches players who played in an exhibition softball game Wednesday at Saddleback College. The cast members and ESPN female executives teamed up to face the Gauchos to kick off the sports network's women in sports summit held at St. Regis Monarch Beach in Dana Point until Friday.
Saddleback College was chosen as the venue because of its proximity to the summit site, said Trevor Drinkwater, co-founder of the Bentonville Film Festival, which organized the exhibition game.
Drinkwater co-founded the festival in Arkansas with Geena Davis, who starred as the Peaches catcher and assistant manager in the movie. The festival promotes women and diversity in media and partners with ESPN.
Part of Wednesday's game may air at the festival in May, Drinkwater said.
Cavanagh said she hadn't played softball since 1995 when a fly ball hit her eye and shattered her right orbit.
Before shooting "A League of Their Own," cast members went through a lot of baseball training to make the scenes look real, she said.
"The gals that I connected with are like my cousins," Cavanagh said. "We get together all the time – we have been in the last few years."
photo by Mindy Schauer, OC Register