When I was researching Girls of Summer: In Their Own League, I met Mary ‘Bonnie’ Baker in Regina, Saskatchewan.
She was beautiful, poised and well-groomed, epitomizing the feminine ideal of the All-American Girls Softball League.
She had many of the attributes that fit the League publicity machine – she came from a large family, was an all-around athlete, was a championship softball player on the Canadian prairies and she had a young husband fighting overseas.
When Life magazine did a photo spread on the League, it was Mary in a catcher’s mask who appeared on the cover.
Many of the players received fan mail, some of it from pretty far away. Among the photos and mementos Mary Baker shared with me at the time, was a letter from a fan in Argentina.
Jose di Vardo wrote her in April 1944 from Buenos Aires, Argentina with greetings to her and her team mates. It was addressed merely to Mary Baker, All American Girls Softball League, South Bend Blue Sox, South Bend, Indiana.
His written English was tenuous, but his sentiments were easily understood.
No to alarm to you, Miss Mary. I am José, a young Argentinian …to salute to you.
Sometime ago I saw your name and it occurred to me to write to you and to send to you and to yours…a cordial and respectful greeting and to wish yours very much success and happiness.
I would like very much for you to answer me and to send me your picture and the picture of your team. I am, Miss Mary.
Mary had been a widow for many years by the time I met her in 1991, but was still very active in sports.
After the League, she went back to softball and helped the Regina club take part in ladies’ world softball championship in 1953, managed the local curling club and became the first female radio sportscaster in Canada. Mary Baker died in 2003.