Jim Nelson knows the game of baseball better than most. He was the starting pitcher for the University of Nevada, Reno’s 1965 championship baseball team. He helped his commanding officer’s team beat a rival CO during his time in the Army. He suited up in an official Philadelphia Phillies uniform during his time playing in the rookie league of the MLB and he coached the local White Pine High School Bobcat baseball team to a state championship in 1975.
Nelson knows his life has been
shaped by the game that he loves. Over 50 years after winning his college nickname “Fireball,” the game of baseball is still showing ways to pay back his love.
“Baseball has been good to me,” Nelson said.
Neslon joined his regional championship team from 1965 on stage back in Janurary to celebrate the team’s 50th anniversary of their win. For Nelson and his wife Margaret, it was a chance to get to relive those days by spending time with their old friends.
“I walked up to one of Jim’s old teammates and asked him if he remembered me,” Margaret Nelson said of the 50th anniversary ceremony. “When he said he
didn’t I said you really don’t remember all those nights where you slept on our couch?! He took another look at me and said ‘You’re Fireball’s wife!’”
But Nelson’s trip down memory lane wasn’t finished in January. A few months later his phone rang and he was asked to throw the first pitch at an exhibition game between the Reno Aces and the UNR baseball team. According to “Fireball,” he’s lost a bit of his flame but it’s not all gone.
“I asked the catcher to scoot up a little bit,” he said with a laugh. “But it was a really great feeling to be back on the mound in such a beautiful stadium and I’m happy I didn’t embarrass myself.”
Jim and Margaret are hoping they’ll get one more chance to relive Nelson’s successful baseball history over the fourth of July weekend when the class of 1975 will return to town for their 40 year reunion. Nelson said he hopes to reunite with some of his old high school Bobcats that he coached to a state title that year.
“It would be great to see those kids again. They were a great bunch and so many of them went on to be really successful,” Nelson said with a proud smile.
But amid all of his trophies, titles, nicknames and fond memories, Nelson said that the thing he is proudest of most in his life is his continuing marriage with his wife and the happiness he receives from being a father.