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!

 

Thanking one special person who makes my baseball letters hobby happen

Happy birthday, dear Diana! By Steve Jurvetson [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Happy birthday, dear Diana! Thanks for being you. Photo by Steve Jurvetson [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

My wife Diana has a birthday today.

No baseball letters today. Just a reminder to all of you.

There has to be a supportive person or more in your hobby lives, too. Let them know that you’re grateful. Whether those allies supply advice, encouragement or simply offer you time, these hobby teammates matter. Thank them often.

 

 

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 csheldon25@hotmail.com.  

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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