A 95-year-old former baseball player is proving that it’s never too late to be your authentic self.
Maybelle Blair, who played for the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League and helped inspire the 1992 film “A League of Their Own,” recently came out as queer after serving as a consultant for Amazon Prime’s reboot TV series of the same name.
Abbi Jacobson, who stars in the newly released show, stopped by Studio 1A on Monday to chat with Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager about her role in the series and opened up about her inspiring interactions with Blair.
“She initially came on to consult about what it was like to be on the league, what it was like to play baseball and softball at the time,” the actor explained. “In doing so, we really got to know her.”
Jacobson and the show’s co-creator Will Graham identify as queer and Blair clearly felt comfortable opening up to the duo about her own sexual identity.
“She had not been publicly ‘out’ and talked about how (in) that league, a lot of the women were queer and it was a very sort of hidden part of that experience,” Jacobson said.
During a panel discussion at the show’s Tribeca Film Festival premiere, Blair took a leap of faith and came out publicly as queer at the age of 95. Watching that moment unfold before her eyes felt “incredible” for Jacobson.
“It made me feel that the show is telling those stories and it can impact people that haven’t seen themselves,” the actor told Hoda and Jenna. “For someone who’s 95 to finally come out is simultaneously incredible for her to finally be who she is. But also, I think it’s pretty heartbreaking that it took 95 years for her to be who she is.”
In a recent interview with Entertainment Tonight, Blair said she felt a huge sense of “relief” wash over her after she came out.
“I thought, ‘Well, Maybelle, you did it.’ And then afterwards, I got shaky because I forgot about my nephews (in the audience) for the moment,” she said. “I went home and I could hardly sleep because I was so scared. But anyway, the phone started ringing and it was my nephews and they said, ‘Maybelle, we’re so proud of you for coming out.’”
Blair explained that working with Jacobson and Graham inspired her to share her story.
“If it hadn’t been for Will and Abbi and all of them making the new series of ‘A League of Their Own,’ I would have never come out in my life,” she said.
The 95-year-old also said she’s thrilled that this reboot of the classic ’90s film addresses important topics ranging from sexuality to race.
“Penny (Marshall, the original film’s director) would have loved to have shown it (in the film) but in her day, it wasn’t accepted (then). Even in the early 1990s.”