With all of the baseball players in my family, it's no wonder that I became a big fan of the sport - and even played softball for several years as a kid. I recall with fond memories how my Dad used to hit fly balls for me to catch. The chicken wire that was supposed to be a trellis for the roses became our backstop. Wow - what memories that brings back!
Now that baseball season is in full swing, I thought it would be nice to honor some of my family members who played baseball.
Playing first base is my dad, known then as Kenny Petersen, playing for the Lincoln Blues, the American Legion baseball team. He also played for the Lincoln High Links during high school, 1941-44. He lettered in baseball.
Dad had dreams of going pro and even tried out for the St. Louis Cardinals during his senior year in high school. They were interested in him as a potential player, too. But the war was going on and Dad enlisted in the Navy. He was given the opportunity to play baseball during his service, but felt that the reason he enlisted was to fight the war.
After the war, the dreams of a pro career were over, but baseball remained in his life as he started up the American Legion baseball team in Greenwood, Nebraska in the late 1950's and managed that team for several years.
After our family moved back to Lincoln, Nebraska, he coached my city Parks and Recreation softball team for a few seasons. Still an avid fan, he enjoys keeping up with two favorite teams, the St. Louis Cardinals and the New York Yankees.
Dad's uncle, Marvin Petersen, was also a baseball player. I know very little about his baseball career, so that's something I will have to dig through some old newspapers to learn more about.
Marvin had moved from Nebraska to Iowa and farmed in the vicinity of Red Oak and Stanton. Dad tells of going to visit Uncle Marvin during the summer as a kid. The local baseball team was always in need of some good players, so whenever Dad was staying with Marvin's family, he would be playing baseball for the team in that town.
That's my grandfather (Mom's dad), Bill Kelly, on the left in the back row playing for the Greenwood, Nebraska baseball club in 1911. You can always pick Bill out of any photograph because he's always the one with his hat cocked to the side!
William L Kelly, Sr. (back row, left), Jimmy Mann, Henry Weideman (manager), Clay Hansen, John Kimberly, Walter Burke, Clarence Stokes, Evan Armstrong, Ben Howard, Carl Weideman Played 54 games; won 48, lost 6.
That's a pretty darned good season record, if you ask me!
Mom's uncle, Harry Bellinger, was the brother of Bill Kelly's wife, Sina Bellinger. Harry also played for the Greenwood baseball team.
I've come across some newspaper articles about Harry's career as a hurler - will have to go through my archives and learn a bit more about his career in baseball.
I do have memories of grandma Sina and me listening to baseball games on the radio. I was five years old when she died, so to have such a strong memory of us sharing baseball together is a good indication of how baseball really flows through our veins.