If anyone is wondering why I haven’t posted recently except about my Diamond Girls short story, it’s because I have been researching a couple of lost All-American players.
Gladys ‘Terrie’ Davis and Thelma Golden were among the Canadians signed by the All-American Girls Softball League. Both were from Toronto (my current home) and both were star players in the top softball teams in the Olympic Ladies’ Softball League of Toronto.
Golden, a pitcher often referred to in Toronto reports as ‘the strike-out queen’, was signed by the All-American League in 1943, but information about her is confusing.
Golden is named in a Toronto Star picture (shown) as third from the left in the back row. The photo is of the Canadian softball players who were at Wrigley Field for spring training in 1943. Manager Bert Niehoff is conducting an indoor strategy session.
A subsequent newspaper report said Golden had been signed by the League and was to play for the Rockford Peaches, but she isn’t in any team photo I can find. And by mid-July 1943, she’s back in Canada pitching for the Montreal Royals.
Golden married Richard Fidler, a private in the Canadian armed forces in 1943, and was reported to be returning to Toronto from Montreal at the end of the 1943 season.
AAGPBL.org says Golden played for the Rockford Peaches in 1944, but I can’t find any verification for that.
Gladys ‘Terrie’ Davis was a shortstop and fielder, but also a very strong batter. She played for the Rockford Peaches in 1943 and was the All-American League’s batting champion that year.
Davis was married with a child and, according to newspaper reports, her husband was overseas for part of this time. She returned to the Peaches the following season but was moved to Milwaukee midway through 1944. The Milwaukee team didn’t get much support. They became orphans, travelling from League town to League town for games, but without any home stadium to play in. Davis skipped 1945 but returned in 1946 for one last year with the Muskegon Lassies.
Both women were still highly regarded as softball players in Canada and both wanted to return to amateur status. The Canadian amateur organizations voted to allow it, but their U.S. counterparts said no. The U.S. organization didn’t have any authority over the Canadian system, but the Olympic League feared losing their place and financial support in international competitions and knuckled under.
According to a Toronto newspaper, Davis reported one American player – Shirley Schulze – who came to Toronto as an amateur player with an American team after her League career ended, a move that led to Schulze being disqualified. That didn’t make Davis any more popular with American officials.
My research now consists of tracking down the old Olympic League records and trying to piece together how that dispute unfolded and the effect it had on Davis’ and Golden’s amateur careers. I assume that both have passed away, but I’d like to confirm that, find out if they left any photos or other memorabilia behind and if they ever talked about their time in the All-American League to their friends and family.
I’m pleased to say I’ve found the Olympic League records and will be spending a day or two in local archives next week going through them for traces of Davis and Golden. I’ll let you know what I find.
Does anyone have any additional information about either of these players? If so, I'd love to hear from you. Leave a comment below.