One surprising sign from AAGPBL autograph signers

I’m hearing from so many who love the ladies of the AAGPBL. Even 60 years later, they’re still thrilled to sign autographs.

Nonetheless, TTM collectors need to remember only a couple of guidelines writing to “girls leaguers.” Here’s some much-appreciated insight from Carol Sheldon, an AAGPBL Players Association board member:

“They sign all the time.  The only thing they have been told to not sign is 3-by-5 index cards.  The ladies might not like it if the Logo is used, because that belongs to the league.  Most of the auto seekers may not realize that their mail was not returned because the player has passed away.  There are only about 140 or less left.”

Carol’s saying that custom-card makers may have a tough time convincing these retirees to autograph your creations if the league logo appears.

The retirees are concerned about their history and legacy.Years ago, Fritsch Cards swung a licensing deal with the association. (I’m unsure about any possible money involved.) I’ve known more than one collector who got a turndown over a custom sent, being told, “I can only sign official cards.” I’ve interpreted those worries as loyalty to Fritsch Cards, with those non-signers feeling that the company deserves special respect for keeping the AAGPBL history alive.

I’d welcome any other thoughts or insights on recent AAGPBL signers.

Meanwhile, mark your calendars for May 5. That’s the day for the re-issue of Belles of the Ballpark, the expanded history of the league written by my amazing co-author wife, Diana Star Helmer. Check out the book’s special page at Summer Game Books. You’ll have your choice of e-book or paperback. And, as Carol mentions, there’s still nearly 140 possible signers out there.

When former Tigers manager Jim Leyland wrote

I love this 2011 pre-game look at Leyland
at Dodger Stadium. What is he seeing?
What is he thinking?

 By Cbl62 (Own work)
 [CC BY-SA 3.0 (],
via Wikimedia Commons

No, not to me.

A former player, Jordan Tata, shared this written memory online earlier this week. 
Epic stuff!
At last check on the always-impressive, the fabled Detroit Tigers manager was batting .720. Or, he had responded to 351 autograph requests in 486 attempts.

Thanks to Carol Sheldon for capturing this correspondence!

Affordable baseball photos great for autographing: meet Detroit’s best-kept secret (that Jim Thome knows…)

(From the artful eye of Carol Sheldon!)

Co-writing the new edition of the book Belles of the Ballpark with Diana Star Helmer brought us a new friend. My wife and I discovered Carol Sheldon, one of the most knowledgeable fans of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League in existence. 

Well, Carol has many talents. She’s been a gifted photographer and avid Tigers fan for years. Lucky for us, she has combined the two passions. Best of all, Carol is making her shots available to fans and collectors.

Q: How many MLB baseball photos do you have in your archive, ones that you’ve taken? How far back do they date?
A: I take an average of 400 a game and I go to about 30-35 average games a year plus playoffs. Since about 2000 I‘ve used digital and before 2000 I used film back to around the mid 80’s.
Q: What percentage of the photos are of THAT team (you know, your Tigers?)?
A: I’d say 85-90 % but if we are playing some with stars then I shoot them too. For example, I got Thome’s 599 and 600 HR’s                                             
Q: What percentage taken at Comerica? Any from Tiger Stadium? Have you shot at other ballparks?
A: Well, Comerica opened in 2000 so 90% , Film shots at Tiger Stadium especially the last year and last weekend.  I’ve been to about 35 ML stadiums and my camera is always with me so I do have pictures from each stadium mostly of the Tigers and pics of each stadium. (But I’m not that organized. I do have shoe boxes filled with negatives that are organized sort of.) I’ve also visited about 35 minor league stadiums too.
Q: Readers would be sending these out for autographs by mail, or in person. How many of the depicted guys have seen their photos (and I know that players, current and former, are still thrilled to see new views of themselves)? Have you shared in person or by mail?
A: Over the years I’ve worked on getting some of my good shots signed at the stadium and in the 80’s I sent 3.5×5’s in the mail to get signed. I’ve given players copies of something special. They do like that. Thome signed a copy of #600 for me and I gave him one plus a disk with shots of his family meeting him at home plate.
Q: Last question: can you share even one short tale about a good reaction from a current or former player over your photos?
A: Thome was nice and ask my name so he could personalize it. I got a very nice note back from Doyle Alexander after I sent him a photo.
Q: How can readers get your photos?
A: 5×7 = $ 2.00 8x 10 = $7 11 x 14 = $10 plus shipping. Shipping would be $2.50 to $5.00 for single photos. Additional cost for multiple photos. If you don’t see the player you want ask! I also have stars from other teams!  I can be reached at  

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 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.
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