Helen Callaghan

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Helen Callaghan Candaele St. Aubin (March 13, 1923, Vancouver, British Columbia — December 8, 1992, Santa Barbara, California) was a left-handed center fielder who appeared in five seasons in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL), playing under the name Helen Callaghan.

As a rookie with the Minneapolis Millerettes Callaghan hit a .287 average in 111 games, for second in the league. She also finished third in total bases, hits, runs and stolen bases (112), while tying for third in home runs. By then, her older sister, Margaret, was the team's third basewoman.

The Millerettes could not compete attendance-wise with the Minneapolis Millers, so the team moved in 1945, becoming the Fort Wayne Daisies. That year Callaghan had her best season, batting .299 to lead the AAGPBL. (The league average was .198 that year.) She tied for the league lead in homers (3), led in total bases (156), was second in steals (92), first in hits (122), second in runs (77) and first in doubles (17). Callaghan was often called the "Ted Williams of women's baseball". The league was not yet giving out Player of the Year or All-Star honors, but it is clear she was a candidate for both. Ft. Wayne finished second and advanced to the championship, but fell four games to one despite a .400 mark from the younger Callaghan.

Callaghan slipped drastically in 1946, hitting just .213, even though league averages rose about 10 points. She still tied for third in steals with 114. After missing the 1947 season due to illness, she returned for part of 1948 after getting married and having her first child. However, that year she hit just .191 as a bench player. She finished her career with Kenosha in 1949 as Helen Candaele, bouncing back to a .251 mark, tied for seventh in the league. She was ninth in total bases (113), eighth in steals (65), sixth in doubles and tied for eighth in triples.

In a five season career, Callaghan was a .257 hitter (355-for-1382) with seven home runs and 85 run batted in in 388 games, including 354 stolen bases, 249 runs, 35 doubles, 15 triples and 221 walks while striking out 161 times. Her on-base percentage was thus approximately .359, while she slugged .319.

Family[edit]

Helen had five sons. Casey Candaele, played nine years with the Montreal Expos, Houston Astros and Cleveland Indians. Another son, Kelly Candaele, is a politician, filmmaker, teacher, and writer, he produced a PBS documentary special on the AAGPBL. After filmmaker Penny Marshall saw it, she was inspired to create the 1992 film A League of Their Own. Another son, Kerry Candaele, has directed the 2013 documentary "Following the Ninth," about the global influence of Beethoven's final symphony, and co-authored the book, "Journeys With Beethoven." Another son, Rick Candaele, was the football coach at UC-Santa Barbara and Claremont McKenna College.

Death/Legacy[edit]

Callaghan died of breast cancer in 1992, aged 69. In June 1998, all sixty-four Canadian women who played in the league were inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame.

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