Just before the film "A League of Their Own" celebrated its 20th anniversary this month, one of its real-life inspirations, Doris "Sammye" Sams, passed away in a Knoxville nursing home at age 85.

Sams, also known as "Sammye" and "Dauntless Doris," joined the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League at age 19 as a member of the Muskegon Lassies in 1946. The League was founded in 1943 by Chicago Cubs owner Philip K. Wrigley to keep fans coming out to ballparks while male players were fighting in World War II.

A good athlete (she had already won a regional marbles tournament and the Knoxville badminton championship), Sams quickly emerged as a star, pitching a perfect game in August of 1947. (She downplayed the achievement, telling a reporter "I just got lucky.") Sams was named Player of the Year that year and again in 1949, held the league record for home runs in 1952, and made the all-star team five times over the course of her eight-year career with the Lassies.

One of her notable recollections was of the "strawberries" that resulted from sliding in skirts. "Believe me, you haven't lived until you've slid on skin," she told a reporter in 1988, according to her obituary.

Unlike Geena Davis' character, Sams didn't choose her husband over baseball -- but she did give up the sport not long before the league ended in 1953, returning home to Knoxville, where she worked in the offices of the Knoxville Utilities Board.

So what did she think of the 1992 film? Well, not surprisingly, Sams said it was "about 30 percent truth and 70 percent Hollywood," according to her obituary in the Los Angeles Times.

Earlier on HuffPost:

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  • Tom Hanks (Jimmy Dugan)

  • Tom Hanks (Jimmy Dugan)

    It's easy to forget that, when Tom Hanks starred in "League" as hard-drinking manager Jimmy Dugan, he was not yet the beloved Everyman who would win back-to-back Oscars for his dramatic roles in "Philadelphia" and "Forrest Gump"; in fact, he was just a couple years removed from starring opposite a slobbering dog in "Turner & Hooch." With "League," Hanks began a long string of blockbusters (including "Apollo 13," the "Toy Story" movies, "Saving Private Ryan," "Cast Away," and "The Da Vinci Code") that made him the most reliable box office draw of the last two decades. This despite such duds as "The Ladykillers" and "Larry Crowne" (which he also directed). Next up for the 55-year-old star: October's sci-fi epic "Cloud Atlas."

  • Geena Davis (Dottie Hinson)

  • Geena Davis (Dottie Hinson)

    Davis was already an Oscar-winning actress coming off the hit "Thelma & Louise" when she took the lead role in "League" as catcher Dottie Hinson. Not a jock before the movie, afterward, the six-foot-tall star found the confidence to take up archery and even try out for the Olympics. On screen, she continued to hit bullseyes in such hits as "The Long Kiss Goodnight" and the "Stuart Little" movies. (There was also a notoriously expensive flop, soggy pirate saga "Cutthroat Island.") On TV, she played the first female president in the drama "Commander in Chief." Up next for the 56-year-old: a supporting role in the 2013 comedy "In a World," written and directed by actress Lake Bell.

  • Madonna (Mae Mordabito)

  • Madonna (Mae Mordabito)

    In 1991, the Material Girl was already the defining pop star/sex bomb of her era, but the one medium she had failed to conquer was film. After failed leading roles in such turkeys as "Who's That Girl" and "Shanghai Surprise," Madonna widely took on a supporting role in "League" as "All the Way" Mae, a player who lets guys round the bases with her during off hours. (Typecasting? You bet.) Two decades later, Madonna's film career is still spotty. Though she did earn some acclaim for her leading role in the musical "Evita," she squandered that goodwill with her 2002 remake of "Swept Away," directed by then-husband Guy Ritchie. Except for a cameo in the James Bond movie "Die Another Day" that same year, she hasn't been seen on screen since. She has, however, branched out into directing in recent years, including last year's historical drama "W.E." Meanwhile, the 53-year-old remains a fixture on the arena concert circuit, as well as in the tabloids.

  • Lori Petty (Kit Keller)

  • Lori Petty (Kit Keller)

    Petty had already established her jock credentials by teaching Keanu Reeves to surf in her breakthrough role in "Point Break." Her best known role, however, remains "League" co-lead Kit Keller, Dottie's competitive little sister. Petty went on to star in the family hit "Free Willy" and to play the title role in cult-comic adaptation "Tank Girl," which kind of tanked. In recent years, she's been a frequent guest star on such TV dramas as "Prison Break" and "House." FIttingly, the 48-year-old's most recent role to date was in 2010's baseball-themed feature "Chasing 3000."

  • Rosie O'Donnell (Doris Murphy)

  • Rosie O'Donnell (Doris Murphy)

    Stand-up comic O'Donnell made her movie debut in "League" as bouncer-turned-infielder Doris Murphy. Throughout the next decade, even as her daytime talk show made her the "queen of Nice," she'd go on to specialize in comic second-banana roles in such films as "Sleepless in Seattle," "The Flintstones," and "Beautiful Girls." In the 2000s, the now-out and outspoken O'Donnell tried a bit of everything -- political activism, blogging, Broadway, magazine publishing, daytime news chat (a notorious year on "The View") and an evening talk show. The 50-year-old hasn't been seen on the big screen in more than a decade, but she's a frequent comic guest star on the small screen, most recently in a recurring role on Lisa Kudrow's "Web Therapy."

  • Jon Lovitz (Ernie Capadino)

  • Jon Lovitz (Ernie Capadino)

    The former "Saturday Night Live" comedian had made two previous movies for Penny Marshall before she cast him in a scene-stealing role in "League" as jaded baseball scout Ernie Capadino. That's probably been his most memorable big-screen role to date, though he's been in constant demand for comic cameos in such movies as "The Wedding Singer," "Small TIme Crooks," and "The Benchwarmers." On TV, he spent two seasons starring as movie reviewer Jay Sherman on the animated series "The Critic," and he's done countless guest spots on such series as "Seinfeld," "Friends," and "Two and a Half Men." A frequent presence in former "SNL" castmate Adam Sandler's movies, the 55-year-old Lovitz will appear opposite Sandler again in next year's "Grown Ups 2."

  • David Strathairn (Ira Lowenstein)

  • David Strathairn (Ira Lowenstein)

    Strathairn was a regular in indie stalwart John Sayles' movies ("Matewan," "Eight Men Out"), but "League gave him his first mainstream Hollywood role, as league general manager Ira Lowenstein. Since then, he's co-starred in such hits as "The Firm" and "The Bourne Ultimatum." He earned an Oscar nomination for playing TV news icon Edward R. Murrow in "Good Night, and Good Luck." Watch for the 63-year-old later this year in supporting roles in the fourth "Bourne" movie and the biopic "Lincoln."

  • Garry Marshall (Walter Harvey)

  • Garry Marshall (Walter Harvey)

    Credited with making stars of such leading ladies as his sister Penny (in "Laverne & Shirley"), Julia Roberts ("Pretty Woman") and Anne Hathaway ("The Princess Diaries"), Marshall is better known as a producer and director than as an actor. Still, he often cameos in his own movies and his sister's. He's candy bar magnate and women's baseball league founder Walter Harvey in "League." Since then, he's directed many hit romantic comedies, including "Runaway Bride" and "Valentine's Day" (though the follow-up, last year's "New Year's Day," fizzled). Earlier this year, the 77-year-old published his second memoir, "My Happy Days in Hollywood."

  • Bitty Schram (Evelyn Gardner)

  • Bitty Schram (Evelyn Gardner)

    Schram's first big break came as sobbing outfielder Evelyn Gardner, who prompts Hanks' memorable "There's no crying in baseball" speech. Since then, her most prominent role has been as Adrian Monk's exasperated nurse Sharona on "Monk." Now 43, Schram was last see on the big screen in the 2006 showbiz satire "A-List."

  • Megan Cavanagh (Marla Hooch)

  • Megan Cavanagh (Marla Hooch)

    Cavanagh made her film debut as bug-eyed slugger Marla Hooch in "League." As she told Moviefone via email, "I'm happy to say that 'League of Their Own' literally changed my life. I'm so grateful to Penny Marshall and the opportunity she gave me. Being part of this movie was like winning the lotto, only better." After "League," Cavanagh went on to work with Mel Brooks (in "Robin Hood: Men in TIghts" and "Dracula: Dead and Loving It"), but otherwise, she's tended to focus on TV, doing voiceover work for the "Jimmy Neutron" franchise. Watch for the 51-year-old as the Ghost of Chiristmas Present in this winter's "Scrooge & Marley."

  • Tracy Reiner (Betty 'Spaghetti' Horn)

    Director Penny Marshall's daughter by Michael Henry (she took Rob Reiner's name when he became her stepfather) has cameoed in several of her films. In "League," she played Betty "Spaghetti" Horn, who learns in the most awkward way possible that her husband has died in the war. She's also appeared in films with "League" co-star Tom Hanks ("Apollo 13," "That Thing You Do") and uncle Garry Marshall (including both "Princess Diaries" movies and 2010's "Valentime's Day"). Reiner, who turns 48 on July 7, runs an independent movie company called Manifesto Films.

  • Bill Pullman (Bob Hinson)

    Pullman made a specialty out of playing guys who were the third leg in a romantic triangle -- in "League," where he nearly lost wife Geena Davis to Tom Hanks; in "Sleepless in Seattle," where he did lose Meg Ryan to Hanks; and in "While You Were Sleeping," where he finally got the girl (Sandra Bullock) away from his rival (Peter Gallagher). He had one of his biggest hits in 1995 as the heroic president in "Independence Day." After memorable lead roles in such films as "Zero Effect" and "Lake Placid," he settled into character parts. The 58-year-old was most recently seen co-starring with Greta Gerwig in last month's indie film "Lola Versus."

  • Penny Marshall

  • Penny Marshall

    Marshall first earned notice as a comic actress and frequent guest star on "The Odd Couple," a show run by her brother, Garry. Having achieved sitcom stardom in "Laverne & Shirley," Marshall followed Garry and her ex-husband Rob Reiner from the sitcom world into movie directing. With her second film (1988's "Big"), she became the first woman to direct a $100 million hit. She and "Big" star Tom Hanks repeated the feat with "League." Her next three movies were less successful, and she left big-screen directing after her 2001 flop "Riding in Cars With Boys." Now 68, she's come full circle, returning to TV as a director ("United States of Tara") and comic guest star ("Portlandia").