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FDChief

Looks pretty out to me; Dottie has the ball when they collide and holds on to it through their entire collision until they've separated and she's fallen to the ground. Meanwhile she's still in possession while Kit kinda-sorta drags her left leg across the plate, although the scene is filmed so sloppily that it's hard to tell how she tags the plate or even IF she does until she ground-loops forward (in the looking-home-from-third angle it looks like she MIGHT have caught the edge of the plate with her left foot) - and all during this time Dottie still has the ball under control.

BUT...there seems to be a real disagreement regarding what constitutes "safe and secure" control of the ball during a tag out. A forceout seems like a different situation; 1B gloves ball, steps on base, runner slams into her and knocks ball loose; still an out. But there seems to be a strong argument that for a tag-out if the ball comes loose AT ANY TIME the runner is safe.

But...here's another thing. I remember when I was reading Bill James' Historical Baseball Abstract the he had an interesting article on the history of home plate collisions. His conclusion was that there were virtually none in the Twenties and Thirties. Here's what he says:

“I started looking through the guides of the twenties and thirties, looking for home-plate collisions. There aren’t any . . . There are plenty of photographs of plays at home plate, and sometimes they run into each other, but not like now.

Basepath obstruction was a major problem in the 1880s and nineties, when baseball was in danger of becoming a contact sport. In 1897 the rules on obstruction were tightened up, and the principle of free access to the bases met with general acceptance at the other three positions. There was always something of a problem with catchers blocking the plate, but there were always limits. In 1922 two games were protested because of the intractability of catchers. National League president Heydler ruled against the protests, writing that “the unpopular practice of ‘blocking off’ runners at the plate. . . has always been the cause of dispute, ill-feeling among and serious injury to players, but against which no practical rule remedy has been found.”

Given that the women players in the Forties were very likely to have been less inclined, both by the social norms of the time as well as the playing norms of their coaches (who would, like Dugan, have been players of the Teens through the Thirties) to have been enthusiastic about collisions at the plate it makes the whole macguffin even less plausible, less respectful of the game, and more a case of lazy film-making

Lance Mannion

Thanks for all this, FDChief. You're right about the lazy film-making. The scene was staged for cheap dramatic effect with no concern for how the game is played or what it actually tells us about Kit---that she hasn't learned any lessons and she's willing to risk injury to herself and her sister and lose the game just to show Dottie up. And even as it's set up, the way for her to score there is to do what Jackie Robinson would have done---slide. She could easily have gotten in under the tag.

But the real thing that nags at me is whether or not we're meant to think Dottie deliberately lets go of the ball. I think we are. And that's infuriating for many reasons.

FDChief

It was hard for me to tell from that clip. I thought that the slow-motion shot of Dottie's fingers opening and the ball rolling out gives the impression that it happens because she's semi-conscious or even knocked cold; there's no hesitation in the motion of her hand (to suggest that she makes a conscious decision to drop the ball)...her hand hits the ground - not hard enough to knock the ball loose - and her fingers just open and the ball rolls out.

I had to go back and watch the flick to see what happened next, and, again, it's really shoddy filmmaking. In the long shot of the Racine team celebrating (which comes after the collision) you can see Dottie on the ground looking pretty shaken up. But after the crowd reaction shots you cut back to the field, first to the Racine players chairing Kit around, and then to a two-shot of Dottie and Dugan, and Dottie looks no dirtier or battered than before the collision, tending to make the "conspiracy version" of a deliberate drop on her part. But, again, no "smoking gun".

The tell, I think, comes after Dugan walks out of the shot. The camera suts back to the Racine club and then back to Dottie and after a moment of no-affect she smiles, just a trifle...suggesting that she's happier for Kit's success than her own team's failure.

Which - if it IS a tell and not more shoddy filmmaking - really is kind of infuriating for a story that's supposed to be about "no crying in baseball"...that is, pursuing a dream despite the sentimentality and emotional weight of the expectations that the times had for women in general and women athletes in particular...

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