ABOUT THE BOOKThe complete story of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League – from its origins during WWII, through its 12 hard-fought seasons, to its resurrection thanks to the 1992 film A League of Their Own, to its current cult status among fans of baseball and Americana. Interviews, rare photos, behind-the-scenes stories from the movie, and great historical detail make this an entertaining and informative read.
INTERVIEW WITH DIANA STAR HELMER
Diana, what’s the story behind the title of your book?
Belles of the Ballpark was the title for my first published book. I thought it was a beautiful play on words. But the title didn’t work the way I hoped it would. Belles was one of the first books ever published about the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. At the time I was writing, about 1990, most of America had never heard of the AAGPBL.
However, about the same time my book was published, the film A League of Their Own was released. I hoped that people would learn about the League through the film, then want to read more about it. But my original publisher was a small school/library publisher that had trouble deciding how to market such a “new” topic. Some folks later suggested that the book’s title should have been more “obvious,” something like “Rosie the Riveter Plays Baseball.”
When I had the opportunity to reissue, with a publisher whose audience includes baseball fans, I wanted to give both the book and its title another chance. A good subtitle helps!
What do you love about where you live?
I love the assertiveness of the four seasons in central Iowa. Amazing life forms, trees and weeds and squirrels and bugs are attracted to the natural cycles. And baseball is one of those constant, comforting wonders.
What’s one thing that you wish you knew as a teenager that you know now?
That “grown-ups” are still very young themselves. They give you the best advice they can, and they mean well. But we are all so young.
Very true. What’s one of your favorite lines from a book?
“My life is the poem I would have writ
But I could not both live and utter it.” -Henry David Thoreau
Is your book based on real events?Absolutely. And though the film, A League of Their Own, is popular, not everyone who sees it knows that it is based on a true story. And those that know may not realize how very, very fictionalized the film is.
Are you like any of your characters?
I like to think I have been like the players in some small ways. Being a young woman in America was often a tricky row to hoe in the Twentieth Century. But the job of being female would not be made easier by anger or resentments. The Girls just tried to do their best, given the situation. I’ve valued that attitude in my life.
What’s one of your favorite quotes?
I love the exchange in Belles between an umpire and an All-American player, where he yelled, “Youse are no lady!” and she snapped, “Neither are you!”
My husband Thomas S. Owens (my co-author for the new edition) received a letter of encouragement from Dolly Brumfield, who played in the League from 1947-53. She wrote, “Thanks for your interest in our story! It really did happen and is a part of history – women’s history and sports history.”
Why did you decide to publish with Summer Game Books?
Summer Game Books is a young company, but already has acquired titles by respected baseball authors. I feel honored to be in such a lineup. SGB has reissued past classic baseball titles. Belles is in great company.
What are you working on now?
I have several future Kindle e-book projects brewing. Stay tuned . . .
ABOUT THE AUTHORDiana Star Helmer began considering the role of women in athletics on an elementary school playground. A female teacher interrupted Diana’s tetherball mastery, chiding: “Can’t you let the other girl win sometimes?” When covering a 1980s game at Dodger Stadium, coach Joey Amalfitano apologized to Diana for belching near one of her on-field interviews. Since the first edition of Belles of the Ballpark was published in 1992, Diana has written more than 40 books. Her first two novels include Elsie’s Afghan and A Dog’s Best Friend, available as Kindle e-books.
Thomas S. Owens is author of more than 40 books. He writes the blog “Baseball By The Letters.” Yes, Tom and Diana are married. They live in Iowa, but are taking offers.
Connect with Diana:
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