D’Arcy Carden knew her good friend and comedic colleague Abbi Jacobson was working on a series adaptation of “A League of Their Own,” but she wasn’t sure she would be involved at all.
“I was so happy for [Abbi] and I had this underlying jealousy because it just was like, ‘Oh, God, what a project. I would kill to be able to work on that,’” Carden said in an interview with TheWrap. “I wanted to hear everything about it, but I also had this sort of like pain when she would talk about it just a little bit. I don’t mean to sound like it was so dramatic.”
When Jacobson called Carden to offer her the role of first base player Greta Gill, a different feeling sprang up for Carden.
“The funny thing is when she called me up and said she wanted me to read the script, then I had this new fear, which was ‘What if it’s not good?’ I mean that as a friend, like one of my best friends having to talk to her about that, but also as a fan of the show,” she said. “As soon as I read it, I was in heaven. It was exactly what I would want it to be as someone working on the show, but also as a fan of the movie. It was so easy to say yes. It was five pages and I was like, ‘Yep, this is it. This is it.’ I was thrilled.”
Carden’s character Greta Gill comes to league tryouts with her childhood best friend Jo De Luca (Melanie Field), and she finds herself falling for her teammate, Rockford Peaches catcher and eventual coach Carson Shaw (Abbi Jacobson). Greta shares a biographical link with the show’s 95-year-old consultant Maybelle Blair, who played in the AAGPBL.
“Maybelle is one of the most amazing people I’ve ever met, truly, in my life.” Carden said. “She’s so inspiring and so incredible, but also she’s just such a blast. She’s such a fun time and man, I love her. We had this screening in Rockford a few months ago, and I wasn’t going to be able to go for scheduling reasons, and she called me on the phone and asked me to go and I was like, ‘Yep, I will cancel my vacation. I will change my flight. Yes, I will be there.’ I just love her. I love spending time with her.”
Blair also identifies as queer, but she didn’t come out publicly until this past June.
“She was really open and honest with us,” Carden continued. “She’s really, really witty and really quick. And she’s faster than you. She’s just on it. She’s amazing.”
Carden enjoyed training for the baseball scenes in the show, sharing the difference between playing the game and then stepping into acting it out.
“When you get on set, it’s one tiny little thing over and over again. It’s ‘stand on first base and catch a ball 15 times so it doesn’t feel quite as baseball-y as it did in practice,’ but towards the end, the last couple of episodes, the baseball really picks up,” she said. “Everybody figured out how to do more playing baseball by the end of it, which hopefully if we get a Season 2 that’s all we would do because it was just so fun.”
The coaching culture helped improve the meta act of improving baseball form not just for playing the game but also for the camera.
“There was something that I love that the baseball coaches taught us — they didn’t even mean to teach us, this is just what they would do and so we caught on,” Carden said. “From the sidelines, if they saw someone doing something good or attempting to do something good they would call out ‘I see you’ and it was such a nice hug. So we started adopting that and it was a nice thing to be able to shout out to your fellow teammate or to hear yourself.”
Season 1 saw Greta pause not just one relationship but two — the romance with Shaw and her friendship with De Luca, who got traded from the Rockford Peaches to the South Bend Blue Sox. Greta and Carson want to be together, but Carson still has to figure out her situation with husband Charlie (Patrick J. Adams).
“They’re all in a weird place right now, especially those three. Jo, Carson and Greta are three people who have relied on someone else their whole lives or at least their whole adult lives. This is the first time for each of them where they’re going to step out on their own,” Carden said. “As someone who is rooting for Greta and Carson and someone that is rooting for Jo and Greta, I want them to get back together, but it would be interesting to see them on their own. I think they all would benefit from stepping out on their own and finding themselves and growing as [individuals]. They’re gonna go through some growing pains. I mean, that’s what I would assume. I’m not in that writer’s room. I don’t know.”
Greta was also offered a job in the off season by Vivienne (Nancy Lenehan), who gives the women athletes charm and beauty classes so that they can retain their feminine manners, and who originally says Greta is “too much.”
“I would love to explore that. I love Nancy,” Carden said. “If I had more scenes with her, I would be thrilled. I think it would be really interesting to see Greta in New York, to see her succeed or fail in doing something she’s never done before, which is kind of her M.O. Greta and Jo have really done it all. They’ve been everywhere, they’ve done it all, and I think sometimes they succeed and sometimes they fail. So it would be interesting to see how this would be for Greta.”
For those who may not have seen all of the first season yet, Carden encourages them to do so.
“My advice really, truly would be to stick with it until the end. The last few episodes are incredible. I love those last three episodes in particular, I could watch them again and again,” she said. “It finishes really strongly and leaves a possible Season 2. I want to say if you love the movie you love the show, but obviously it’s so different. These are new characters, new situations, we get to see a lot. We get to open the curtain a little bit more and see more stories.”
“A League of Their Own” is now streaming on Prime Video.