Helen Callaghan

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Helen Callaghan Candaele St. Aubin

Biographical Information[edit]

Helen Callaghan was a left-handed center fielder who appeared in five seasons in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL). As a rookie with the Minneapolis Millerettes she hit .287, second in the league. She tied for third in homers, was third in total bases, third in hits, third with 81 runs and seventh with 112 steals, in 111 games. The team's third basewoman was Marge Callaghan, Helen's older sister.

The Millerettes could not compete attendance-wise with the Minneapolis Millers, so the team moved in 1945, becoming the Fort Wayne Daisies. That year Helen 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). She 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's clear Helen was a candidate for the former and a shoe-in for the latter. Ft. Wayne finished second and advanced to the championship, but fell 4 games to 1 despite a .400 mark from the younger Callaghan. Helen married Bobby Candaele after the 1945 season. She 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 to give birth to her first son, she returned for part of 1948. However, on July 20 she was removed from a game and underwent emergency surgery for an ectopic pregnancy, ending her season. She was hitting only .191 at the time. 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.

She stole 354 bases in just 388 games. Her career batting average was .257, and she had 35 doubles, 15 triples and 7 home runs. She scored 249 runs, had 85 RBI, 355 hits in 1,382 at-bats, 221 walks, and struck out 161 times. Her OBP was thus approximately .359 while she slugged .319.

Helen had four sons — Casey Candaele is the most famous. He played nine years in the major leagues with the Montreal Expos, Houston Astros and Cleveland Indians. Another son, Kelly Candaele, produced a Public Broadcasting Service documentary special on the AAGPBL. Penny Marshall saw it and it inspired her to create the movie A League of Their Own. Helen Callaghan married a second time and became Helen Callaghan Candaele St. Aubin.

She died of breast cancer in 1992 at age sixty-nine. In June of 1998, all sixty-four Canadian women who played in the league were inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, then she was individually inducted in 2021 as part of the Hall's large class of Canadian baseball pioneers, the only woman to be part of that class.

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