AAGPBL Interview - Helen Westerman
Helen "Pee Wee" Westerman played in the first years of All American Girl's Professional Baseball League. She spent some time and gave us an interview.
I grew up with two older brothers so we played a lot of ball. I played with my brothers' team until I was old enough to play with the girls league. I played with Madison Furniture Company before turning pro at age 16.
2) Describe your signing.
A scout came to Springfield, IL and looked over our team. Three of us were selected. Then the scout came to my home to sign the contract. My parents had to do the signing, as I was only 16. That was quite a thrill! My dad signed the contract, my mother wouldn't sign.
3) What position(s) did you play? Which teams did you play for?
I was a catcher, I wore #13. I played for the Kenosha Comets, and for a short time with the Rockford Peaches. The following year I signed a contract with Chicago.
4) What was the best thing about playing pro ball?
Exciting, big crowds, travel and fun. And being with others that liked the same things as you.
5) What was the worst thing about playing ball?
It was hard. Not much time for yourself. You played, ate and slept baseball.
6) What was the highlight of your career?
When I caught a double-header in South Bend and with both games went over 20 innings.
7) Who were the best players you played with or faced? Comments?
Helen (Nicol) Fox - Pitcher, I was her catcher
8) Do you think the fans and press accepted you more as the years wore on? (Describe how it was when you started. Did increased exposure change some minds?)
When we started I think that people were curious. at first we had a lot of hecklers - we were booed a lot. But time went on, crowds went up, and they had their favorite players. And players had their favorite fans. Things did change a lot over time. Note that Helen was there at the start of the league, so she can describe the initial reaction of the fans
9. Who were your favorite big league ballplayers during the era you played in?
10) Do you follow big league ball now? If so, how do you think it compares with your day?
I watch some baseball. I think it has changed a lot.
11) Should women have their own pro league, should they play in the majors, or should we have both (a women's league and the chance for the best women players to play in the majors?)
I think that women should have their own league. I think the best players should play in the majors. But I also think it would have to be their choice - I don't believe the women could take it - I think it would be so hard on them.
12) How do you feel about the Silver Bullets?
I think they were great!
13) Briefly describe your life since your pro career ended.
Married, no children. Widowed at an early age. I worked at and managed a steak and shake at Walgreen's lunch counter. I then worked in a factory for 27 years, and then left to start my own business. I've been doing that for 15 years.
14) What advice do you have for young women who want to become pro ballplayers?
Sports are fine for all women, but don't take your mind off your education.
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