Researching Toronto softball stars

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 Davis, Rockford Peaches, shortstop for AAGPBL

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.

Golden pictured with Bert Niehoff at 1943 AAGPBL spring training

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.
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About Lois Browne

I'm a mystery writer, blogger and traveller.
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7 Responses to Researching Toronto softball stars

  1. Paula Warder says:

    Hello Lois (John and Ross)
    I have been researching the history of women’s softball in the Toronto area especially and have been fortunate to chair the annual “Players of The Past Ceremony” at the CNE for the past 10 years.
    I have acquired an extensive collection of scrapbooks, newspaper articles , uniforms etc all donated to me over the years and would love to share information with you.,
    If Anne McLaughlin Campbell played for Simpsons and Peoples Credit Jewellers in the Sunnyside League then I have some info & photos for John.

    Lois I also have bits and pieces about Thelma Golden Fidler and I knew a co-worker of hers at Canada Trust who had some good stories about Thelma but this women has recently passed away at the age of 93.
    .i wonder if Ross Golden was ever a pitcher himself playing in the Men’s Beaches League for Peoples or Tip Tops in the Forties/Fifties. There was also a Russ Golden playing about the same time or quite possibly the newspapers typed the name interhangeably. I might be able to help with his family tree as genealogy is a hobby of mine..
    Lois if you want to contact me by e-mail we can share info.
    Sincerely,
    Paula Warder

    • Ross Golden says:

      Hello Lois (Paula) Yes, I did pitch softball in the Beaches Major Fastball League at Kew Gardens. I played for Sherrins Funeral Home and Dependable Caterers from 1956 through the early 1960’s Peoples and Tip Tops were before my time but I did play with some members of those teams. I also participated in the Bulova Watch/ Parker Pen Tournaments at the Toronto Exhibition.

      Although when I was a youngster playing baseball Thelma was referred to as my famed Auntie. I believe we are cousins. As a young lad I saw her play at Sunnyside but I don’t think she ever attended my games. I also think the Russ Paula refers to is me.

      Paula my email address is rossgolden@sympatico.ca

      Thanks Ross Golden Sent from my iPad

      >

  2. John Campbell says:

    Hi Lois

    My mother, Ann (McLaughlin) Campbell, played for the Simpson’s team in the Olympic Ladies Softball League. She joined the team at its inception and stayed with them until she retired in 1945 when my father returned from the war. She lived a long, active life until she passed away at age 93 in 2011. I have numerous photos and other memorabilia from her playing days that I would be happy to share with you, and I’m wondering if you might also be able to help me complete her records. I found some information on the Toronto Star’s excellent on-line archive, but have been unable to find a similar on-line service for the Toronto Telegram. Is there an on-line service for the Tely, or is it only available on microfilm? You also mention that you have located the Olympic League records. Would it be possible for you to let me know where I might access them also? Like you, I am also a resident of Toronto so, hopefully. they’re somewhere here in town!

    Unfortunately, I have not come across the names of Gladys “Terrie” Davis or Thelma (Golden) Fidler in my mother’s collection.

    Thanks for your blog and the contribution you’ve made to capturing this chapter of women’s sport. I look forward to hearing from you at your convenience!

    John Campbell

    • Lois Browne says:

      John
      I don’t remember the name Ann (McLaughlin) Campbell in my research. I would like to see your records very much and would hope that you find a home for them with an archive. I can make a couple of suggestions.

      The Toronto Telegram has not been digitized in the same way that the Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail have been. The Telegram is available on microfilm through the library and their photos are available through York University archives.

      Both of the Star and the G&M are available online if you have a Toronto Public Library card. Bobbie Rosenfeld, who was an outstanding athlete in a number of sports, wrote a column for the G & M for many years and you may find reference to your mother if you do a search of that newspaper.

      Re other records, the Toronto Harbour Commission has archives in Toronto that include their dealings with amateur sports, including the softball leagues that used the Sunnyside facilities. Issues arose when there was in-fighting among the leagues that make for interesting readng, but there are almost no references to individual players.

      I’ll contact you directly and perhaps we can arrange for me to look at some of the memorabilia you have. Thanks very much for getting in touch.

      • Paula Warder says:

        Hello Lois
        Wondered if you could put me in touch with John Campbell about his mother who played for Simpson’s in the Sunnyside League. I have tried unsuccessfully to track him down but there are just too many J. Campbells .
        I have memoribilia from this team via their player/manager Nellie Stone McMaster that I will share with him.
        Simpsons dropped their sponsorship after the War so Nellie walked across the street to convince Peoples Credit Jewelers to sponsor them. which they continued to 1954-1955.
        I can be reached at paulawarder@gmail.com
        Many thanks
        Paula

  3. Ross Golden says:

    LOIS
    I wondered if you found anything in the Olympic League records on Thelma?
    Thelma is deceased.
    I have been researching Genealogy on Thelma as I believe she is related to me.

    Ross Golden
    Rossgolden@sympatico.ca

    • Lois Browne says:

      I’ve found news stories of her in the Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star before and after her brush with the All-American League. You probably know she married a man named Richard Fidler. I’ve found a reference to her death in one of the newspapers. I found a reference to a hospital stay in 1948 when she needed an operation on her back, and the Sunnyside Ladies Softball League held an appreciation night for her and gave her all the proceeds. I’ll contact you by email and can send you some of these as attachments.

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