An amazing letter from a Girls Leaguer

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

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!

Where Was Baseball By The Letters?

I could tell you.

Or, let me SHOW you.

I rode shotgun as my wife Diana Star Helmer put the finishing touches on a new edition of Belles of the Ballpark. If you liked the movie A League of Their Own, you’ll love the true story.
The AAGPBL player roster shrank each week as we worked. Nevertheless, there’s new correspondence with more than a dozen players. Many new chapters await!
We’ve submitted 70 possible photos to our editor, TRIPLE the amount of the first edition.
Lessons learned from a summer of girls league letters?
1. The league ended 60 years ago. Alums are age 80 and above. Health problems (or non-stop travelers) mean some responses won’t be fast.
2. Penmanship should be renamed penWOMANship. Many of these women became teachers. Their sparkling handwriting — sometimes, like calligraphy — astounds me.
3. These women still love the game. Answers to our letters proved it. One former player wrote a great explanation of why batting averages were lower than major league stats. To make sure I agreed, she added a last-minute detail. She TAPED her baseball card on the back of the envelope, back side up. 
No ego. She didn’t care about her picture. She just wanted me to see how her stats changed from season to season (just like the letter explained).
Summer Game Books looks like they’ll be a rising star in the world of baseball books for many seasons to come. We’re happy to play for their team. The book arrives in spring, 2015.

It’s good to be back!

AAGPBL Calls: Girls Leaguers Still Sign!

A book deadline is calling.

I need to say, “See you in September.” Not forever, but only until I can help get one epic story back into print.
Meanwhile, you’ll find an archive of more than 900 posts here to keep your summer sizzling.
When I return, I’ll have news about the much-anticipated new and expanded edition of Belles of the Ballpark, thanks to talented co-author Diana Star Helmer and Summer Game Books. The AAGPBL survivors who are still physically able are signing by mail, by the way. I heard from 13 who answered questions for the book. Some were 90 and above. Write to these wondrous women soon.
Thank you for your support of the blog since 2010. I’ve always insisted that I’m about the stories behind the signatures, instead of mere autographs.
You’ll see more of why this project has been so important this fall. When September call-ups happen, I’d be grateful if you’d promote me back to your active roster.
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