An amazing letter from a Girls Leaguer

Posted February 13th, 2017 by Tom Owens and filed in AAGPBL, Belles of the Ballpark, Diana Star Helmer

It’s time to tell the rest of the story.

I was thrilled to come along for the ride when my wife Diana Star Helmer readied a new edition of Belles of the Ballpark (Summer Game Books) for 2016 publication.

I was racing against time, trying to get surviving players to reply by mail. Diana believed untold stories remained in league history.

One overlooked detail by AAGPBL historians is the fascinating range of jobs these players found after baseball. Pitcher Erma Bergmann (who passed away in 2015) served decades on the St. Louis police force.

I congratulated her on her public service as a police officer. That might be why she concluded her letter this way:

“I never hit a prisoner during my career and I never stole from any drunks.

Love,

Erma”

Asking is free. You never know what details you’ll unearth!

 

Tips For Getting AAGPBL Girls Leaguers To Sign By Mail

Posted November 17th, 2014 by Tom Owens and filed in AAGPBL, Carol Sheldon, Girls League, www.aagpbl.org
What if?

It’s the best way to take your hobby up a level.

I’ve been astounded at the willingness of the AAGPBL players to keep signing by mail, even in their 80s (and beyond).

Of course, all collectors want perfect records. How could I do better?

I asked the question of Carol Sheldon, an accomplished collector and learned fan of the girls league. I’d call her scholarly. Through the years, she’s become close friends with many former players. In fact, she serves on the board of the alumni association.

These players never got any pension. Some played only one season (or less). Being retirees, would they appreciate any money with a letter?

I’m grateful for Carol’s reply:

“The ladies would probably send the $5 back with the autograph! I always sent an SASE before and after I got to know them. Sometimes they would send that back too ! The only thing most won’t sign is a 3×5 index card.”


I think here’s one better tip than adding a tip …

Write a thoughtful letter. Sure, politeness pays. However, prove that you know something about the league. All of the retirees have Wikipedia bios. Or, go to the official www.aagpbl.org site. Note the team they played for or something specific about the years they played.

Many of these women are former teachers. They’ll appreciate a personal, creative effort. In turn, I’m betting you’ll get some of the best responses ever.

Forget The Movie: Girls Leaguers Knew The REAL Hall of Famer Jimmie Foxx

A League Of Their Own was a movie. JUST a movie.

The 1992 movie introduced unknowing baseball fans to the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. 
But a fact-based retelling? Magazines were quick to look for real-life equivalents for all characters.
The Tom Hanks character? A down-and-out former player who hit more than 500 home runs, but drank too much, only to get one last chance as a manager?
Well, Hall of Famer Jimmie Foxx managed the Fort Wayne Daisies in 1952. He hit 534 homers. Maybe…?
Try asking a real AAGPBL player about the real-life skipper. 
While working on the revised edition of Belles of the Ballpark, I received a kind letter from Dolly Ozburn, a young pitcher for the ’52 Daisies. She wrote:
“Jimmie was a very nice and caring person. He was okay as a manager, but since I was only 15, I had few managers to which I could compare him. I learned the most about baseball from his successor, Bill Allington.”
In other words, there’s history and Hollywood. Seldom, the two will meet.
Dolly was elected to the Milwaukee Brewers Hall of Fame in 2005. She’s been a star in keeping AAGPBL history alive. A tip of the cap to her!