Milt Nielsen (BASEBALL-REFERENCE.COM)

Milt Nielsen

This article was written by Armand Peterson

Milt Nielsen (BASEBALL-REFERENCE.COM)Twenty-four-year-old Milt Nielsen was surprised when his wife, Marilyn, handed him his father’s phone in late September 1949. “Some guy says he is calling from the Cleveland Indians,” she said.1 They had just returned home with their young son to Windom, Minnesota, after Milt finished a very successful season with the Oklahoma City Indians of the Double-A Texas League. Oklahoma City’s last playoff game had been on September 20, and he was thinking about finding an offseason job. He didn’t think he would hear from the Indians until the team started making spring training plans later in the year.

The message was a dream come true. The Indians told Nielsen to report to Chicago to join the team for its last two series of the season: three games with the White Sox and three at Detroit. He barely had time to get to Chicago. His father drove him 70 miles to Mankato, Minnesota, on Monday, September 26 to catch the eastbound 9:05 a.m. Chicago & North Western Dakota 400. The route called for one train change, and he arrived in Chicago at about 8:00 p.m. He didn’t get to his hotel until 10 o’clock the night before his first big-league game. Thankfully, the September 27 game was at night, giving him a little more time to get adjusted. The Indians started him in center field all three games with the White Sox.

“They didn’t do me any favors,” the left-handed-hitting Nielsen said. “The Sox starting pitchers were all lefties!”2 He went 1-for-9 with two walks in those three games, but did not appear in the three games in Detroit. “It was a great time, though,” he said many years later. “I’ll never forget it.”3

Nielsen didn’t return to the majors until 1951, and then for just 16 games, all as a pinch-hitter or pinch-runner. His career in the minors continued through 1954, but he played on in Minnesota’s amateur and semipro leagues through 1961.

Milton Nielsen was born on February 8, 1925, in Tyler, Minnesota, a small town (1940 population: 1,005) in the southwestern part of the state. His father, Anton, born to Danish immigrants, had been raised on a farm and worked in a farm implement shop in Tyler. He moved the family to nearby Lake Benton (population: 961) to set up his own farm implement business when Milt was in sixth grade. Milt graduated from high school there in 1943. Boys in Lake Benton played all sports on playgrounds in the town, but Milt did not play on an organized team until he entered high school. He was a running and passing halfback on the six-man football team that lost only one game in three years, and also starred on the basketball team. In 1942, the school did not have a track team because the coach was in military service, but the superintendent recruited a few baseball players to form a team to compete in the District Championship Track Meet in Marshall, Minnesota. Milt ran the 220- and 440-yard dashes, and the 4×220-yard relay, as well as the broad jump.4 The makeshift team finished third.

But baseball was his first love, ever since he had seen the Minneapolis Millers play a postseason exhibition game in Tyler in the late 30s. “My high school had a senior show night where you were supposed to dress up like you would in your later years,” he recalled 60 years later. “I showed up in a baseball uniform!”5

He pitched for the high school baseball team in 1941, when he was in 10th grade, and on the town’s newly formed American Legion team that summer. He also played for the Lake Benton town team. He pitched in relief in a couple of games, but was a regular at second base or third base even though he was left-handed. He was the starting pitcher for the town team in 1942, following his junior year in high school. In the summer he also worked on a construction crew for a project expanding the Sioux Falls, South Dakota, airport that was to become the Sioux Falls Army Air Base. He hitchhiked 80 miles home to Lake Benton on weekends, pitched on Sunday, and hitched rides back to Sioux Falls to report to work again Monday morning. Nielsen graduated from high school on May 20, 1943. He was playing for the town team again, mainly at shortstop, but his season ended when he enlisted in the Navy on June 24, 1943.6

Perhaps because of his experience in his father’s farm implement shop and at the Sioux Falls airport construction site, he was assigned to the 110th United States Naval Construction Battalion (the “Seabees”), for basic training at Camp Peary near Williamsport, Virginia. The 110th made a stop at the Gulfport, Mississippi training site on their way to the Port Hueneme, California, Advance Base Depot. The 110th embarked to Pearl Harbor on November 22, 1943, and on February 10, 1944, set sail for Eniwetok in the Marshall Islands. They sailed to Tinian in the Mariana Islands between September and October 1944 and remained there the rest of the war.7 The Seabees’ mission was to build airfields, warehouses, housing, hospitals, and other associated facilities. (The B-29 bombers that dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, took off from Tinian.)

The Seabees worked long hours to meet the ambitious wartime schedules. The work was hard, but the young men were strong, and getting stronger, and turned to sports for recreation as soon as room could be found for baseball and softball, basketball, volleyball, and other activities. “I played a lot of baseball in the service,” Nielsen recalled. “A lot of ball!”8 His company baseball and basketball teams won the battalion championships on Tinian.9

The 110th returned to Port Hueneme in October 1945. Nielsen learned of a Cleveland Indians tryout camp in Santa Monica and decided to give it a try. He was offered a contract, but could not sign because he was still on active duty. He signed after his discharge on March 6, 1946, and reported to Bakersfield, California, the Indians’ farm team in the Class-C California League. Nielsen had a so-so 9–6 record as a starting pitcher, with a 4.53 ERA in 159 innings pitched. He also pinch hit or played in the field in 46 games. His .309 batting average and .479 slugging average numbers, perhaps, foretold where his future might lie.

Nielsen returned home after the season to Windom, Minnesota, where his family now lived. Not long after he got home he received a call from Mike Garcia, a teammate and good friend at Bakersfield. Garcia told him that Bob Feller’s barnstorming team had scheduled a game against Satchel Paige’s Negro League Stars in Bakersfield in late October, and invited Milt to come out and visit him so they could watch the game together. Nielsen talked four old friends from Lake Benton into driving together to California for the game. Garcia came down from his home in Visalia to join them. Unfortunately, they did not get to see Satchel Paige, who had sued Feller over a financial misunderstanding and had his team replaced by Jackie Robinson’s touring Negro League team.10 Nielsen and Garcia had both been assigned to Wilkes-Barre in the Single-A Eastern League for 1947, and Milt decided to stay and spend the winter with his friend in California.

Meanwhile, Cleveland president Bill Veeck hired the legendary Rogers Hornsby to tutor hitters at a special camp at the team’s training base in Tucson, Arizona from January 20 to April 1, 1947. The special tutoring was set to begin with outfielder Pat Seerey (a slugger with a low average — .225 in 404 at-bats for the Indians in ’46), and catcher Jim Hegan (.236 in 271 at-bats for the Indians in ’46), and others to be named later by manager Lou Boudreau.11 Nielsen was invited to join the camp to pitch batting practice for Seerey and Hegan. Nielsen said it was a good gig. He stayed at a dude ranch outside Tucson, and just had to report daily to the camp to throw BP. At the end of each day’s session, Nielsen also got a chance to hit a little. Hornsby must have been impressed. “He told me I didn’t have a good enough curve ball to make it as a pitcher, but would try to get me in as an outfielder.”12

Nielsen went back to Windom and waited to see what would happen. A couple of weeks later the Indians called and told him to report as an outfielder to Tyler, Texas, to join Oklahoma City in the Double-A Texas League. Although the jump from Class C to Double A for a player converting to the outfield from pitching might be considered a difficult task, Nielsen had a good year. He played in 151 of the team’s 154 games, and hit .268 in 590 at-bats, with a .425 slugging average.

While back in Windom after the season, he met 19-year-old Marilyn Nelson, a school friend of his sister, Darthea. They were married on February 1, 1948, just before Milt left for spring training with Oklahoma City. Marilyn accompanied Milt around the country for the next six years while he chased his professional baseball dream. Sons Robert (born in 1948) and Richard (1950) were born while Milt’s career took him from Windom to Oklahoma City, Cleveland, San Diego, Indianapolis, and Venezuela.

Nielsen had a very good year at Oklahoma City in 1948, hitting .298, with a .419 slugging average, and Cleveland purchased his contract from Oklahoma City on December 29. The Indians won the 1948 World Series by defeating the Boston Braves in six games, but the team was not standing pat in 1949. Fifteen of the 38 candidates reporting for spring training were rookies. Third baseman Al Rosen, shortstop Ray Boone, and pitcher Mike Garcia got most of the attention, and appeared certain to make the team. Nielsen was the only rookie amongst eight outfield contenders. He was “rated ‘can’t miss’ by no less an authority than veteran scout Cy Slapnicka.”13 Left fielder Dale Mitchell, who hit .336 in 1948, and center fielder Larry Doby, who hit .301 as a rookie, had two outfield positions locked up, but Nielsen seemed to have a chance to make the team as a third or fourth outfielder.

Nielsen was shown “on a stroll in cactus country” in a full-page photo spread in The Sporting News, and also shown in a photo with veterans Thurman Tucker and Sam Zoldak.14 He played sparingly in spring training games, however, and the team decided to fill out the outfield roster with 1948 returnees Tucker and Bob Kennedy. Nielsen was optioned to Oklahoma City on April 3.

He had a great year at Oklahoma City in 1949. He made the Texas League All-Star team, hitting .330, with 107 RBIs15 and a .521 slugging average. Thus, Nielsen must have felt that he had earned another invitation to the Cleveland spring training camp. The late-September callup to the Indians, brief as it was, also must have reinforced his confidence. He wore his Cleveland uniform at a “Major League Stars vs Minor Leaguers” exhibition game in Huron, South Dakota, on October 16.16 This was for the sixth annual “Pheastival,” a fund raiser and public relations event to raise money for youth baseball. Players spent several days of pheasant hunting prior to the game.

Nielsen was one of only 35 men on Cleveland’s 1950 spring training roster, reflecting “General Manager Hank Greenberg’s [new] policy of taking to training camp only those athletes who … have a chance to make the team. …”17 The Indians had more 10-year men than any other major-league team, and Greenberg had earlier said, “I think it is time to clean house. We have too many players who are over the hill and don’t know it.”18 Nielsen got a better shot in spring training than he had in 1949. He played in eight of the team’s first 12 exhibition games, hitting 6-for-13. He had gone 2-for-3 against the Los Angeles Angels at Fullerton on March 20,19 and 2-for-4 against the Browns on March 22 in Burbank, but the Indians had already decided to stand pat in the outfield with their 1949 starters Dale Mitchell, Larry Doby, and Bob Kennedy, as well as returning reserves Allie Clark and Thurman Tucker. The Indians cut their spring training roster to 30 on March 23 by optioning Nielsen, Orestes Minoso, Bobby Wilson, and George Zuverink to San Diego of the Pacific Coast League.

Nielsen had a solid start at San Diego. From opening day to July 12 — playing in 104 of his team’s 115 games — his batting average ranged from .307 to .327. (The Pacific Coast League played a 200-game schedule in 1950.) He was drawing walks, too, and batted first or second in the order. He started in the outfield in the South team’s 9–2 win over the North in the Pacific Coast League All-Star Game on July 12. He slumped to .294 after the break, and then severely sprained his ankle; eventually he was forced to have it placed in a cast. In eight weeks from August 2 to September 27 he played in only seven of his team’s 79 games. He finished the season with a .298 batting average and a .382 on-base percentage, having played in 126 of his team’s 200 games.

Big changes were in store for Cleveland in 1951. For starters, General Manager Greenberg released player-manager Lou Boudreau on November 21, 1950, and hired Al Lopez to replace him. Greenberg scheduled a two-week pre-spring-training camp for rookies “to give Lopez an opportunity to see what we have available on our farms.”20

Harry Simpson, George Zuverink, Minnie Minoso, and Nielsen, from the 1950 San Diego roster, reported with the rookies. Simpson was the Padres’ MVP, and “Lopez had glowing words for outfielder Milt Nielsen.”21 There were seven outfielders on the spring training roster. Dale Mitchell, Larry Doby, and Bob Kennedy were returning starters from 1949 and 1950. Harry Simpson looked like a lock for outfielder number four. Minnie Minoso at this time was an infielder. That left Nielsen to compete with 1950 reserve outfielders Allie Clark and Thurman Tucker for a fifth outfielder position, and possibly, as a pinch-hitter.

Nielsen got much more playing time in spring training than he had in 1949 or 1950. Box scores have been found (in The Sporting News, Cleveland Plain Dealer, and New York Times) for 14 of the team’s first 16 exhibition games. Nielsen played in 13 of those games, hitting .340, 18-for-53. But he played in only four of the team’s 19 remaining spring training games, three as a pinch-hitter and one as a pinch-runner.

Nevertheless, he was on the roster when the Indians opened the season at Detroit on April 17. His first appearance was as a pinch-hitter in the second game of a doubleheader in St. Louis on April 29. The Indians did not make a substitution in the outfield until Allie Clark played three games in right field in early May, but then he was traded with Lou Klein to the Athletics on May 10 for veteran outfielder Sam Chapman. Harry Simpson played a lot at first base early to fill in for the injured Luke Easter, but by mid-June was primarily an outfielder. Chapman played a total of 84 games in the outfield, while Simpson played 67. There was no room for Nielsen. He played in only 16 games as a pinch-hitter or pinch-runner, 0-for-6 as a hitter, with one walk.

The Indians optioned Nielsen to San Diego in late July. He made his initial appearance there as a pinch-hitter on July 27 in the eighth inning of a game against Seattle. He played in 41 of the team’s final 46 games, hitting .275 in 160 plate appearances.

Cleveland had suspended its working agreement with San Diego in August 1951 and purchased the Indianapolis team in the American Association. Indians president Ellis Ryan said, “One of our earliest discussions after we purchased the Indians in November, 1949, concerned the purchase of a Class AAA franchise to begin building up a franchise equal to that of any other club. … The Triple-A club is the most important cog in the farm club machine since it’s the last stop for a youngster before he reaches the parent team.”22 Cleveland sold Nielsen’s contract to Indianapolis in January 1952, and he played the last three years of his professional career there.

Nielsen had a very good year in 1952. His .311 batting average was second on the team to fellow outfielder Dave Pope’s .352, and he played 125 games in the outfield. In late October he got an invitation to join Indianapolis teammate Gary Gearhart with Caracas in the Venezuelan Winter League. He was back home in Windom when he got the call. He was told he could bring his family, including young sons Robert and Richard. They were flown to New York and put up in a hotel until passports could be issued. Then they flew to Caracas, with a stop in Havana, Cuba. The family was set up in a suite in a hotel in Caracas that had four separate rooms connected to a large central living room shared by four players and their wives and families.

The league consisted of four teams: Caracas, Magallanes, Vargas, and Venezuela. All games were played in Caracas. Nielsen’s manager was the famed Cuban ballplayer Martín Dihigo. “It was a delightful experience,” Nielsen said. “Just delightful!”23 He said they either went down to the hotel dining room for meals, or would sometimes order room service. “We men were playing ball almost every day, and when we weren’t playing often sat in the lobby playing cards,” he said. “It was considerably easier on us than on the women, I suppose.”24 Nielsen hit .298, 53-for-178, for the regular season, tying teammate Guillermo Vento for eighth in the league. Caracas won the league pennant and spent eight days in Havana playing in the Caribbean Series, won by Santurce, Puerto Rico.

Nielsen was back with Indianapolis again in 1953. He had severely injured his throwing arm, however, and was a defensive liability in the outfield when the season began. He became a part-time player and pinch-hitting specialist. He played only 30 games in the field, but had 41 pinch-hitting appearances and hit .303, with a .430 on-base percentage in 150 plate appearances.

New Indianapolis manager Kerby Farrell signed Nielsen as a player-coach in 1954. The team was stocked with talent and won the American Association pennant. Twenty-one of 31 players who played for the team during the year reached or had been in the major leagues. Herb Score and Sam Jones led the pitching staff, while the hitters were led by future star Rocky Colavito and pro veterans like Harry Simpson, Joe Altobelli, Gale Wade, Joe Ginsberg, and Hank Foiles. Nielsen coached first base and was a spot player again. He got into 70 games — 15 in the field, and 55 as a pinch-hitter or pinch-runner. His batting average slipped to .231. Indianapolis released Nielsen after the playoffs, and on October 14 he said he planned to retire.25

He went out with his bat blazing, however. The Indians beat third-place Minneapolis 4 games to 2 in the first round of the playoffs, but fell to second-place Louisville in the finals, 4 games to 1. Nielsen played in 10 of the 11 playoff games — two of them as a pinch-hitter — and was the team’s leading hitter at .467 (14-for-30). He hit three doubles and two home runs, for a slugging average of .767.

Nielsen was almost 30 years old now, and the decision to quit was not difficult. “I never gave it another thought.” he said. “I had two boys who were about ready to go to school when that time came [to make the decision] for me, and it was time to go home and go to work.”26 He went back to Windom and got a job as assistant manager in a lumber yard. “I did everything there, from shoveling coal to loading cement.”27

But when spring rolled around, he got the itch to play baseball again. Minnesota has a very strong amateur/semipro baseball history. The first State Tournament was held in 1924, and was held even during WWII. There were 799 teams in the Minnesota Baseball Association in 1950, and that did not count the numerous intramural-type city teams, or church and fraternal teams not affiliated with the Association.28 Teams were broken into three classes — Class AA, Class A, and Class B. Salaries were not permitted in Class B, but were not restricted in the other two. Class-A teams typically hired a pitcher and catcher, and maybe a manager, but Class-AA teams spent $20,000 to $30,000 a year in salaries for their three-month seasons ($190,000-$290,000 in 2020 dollars).

Former minor-league players could earn $300–$1,000 per month in the typical three-month season — more than many earned in the minor leagues — for playing three games a week in Minnesota. Many were provided jobs in the summer, as well, and some chose to move permanently to the state. It was appealing for many veteran minor-league players who began to realize that they had no reasonable path to make the major leagues. Competition was good in Minnesota, too. Dick Siebert, ex-Philadelphia Athletics first baseman, and University of Minnesota baseball coach, was player/manager of the Litchfield team in the West Central Minnesota League. He said the league, dominated by college players, was slightly above a Class-B minor league.29 The Southern Minnesota League was predominantly stocked with ex-professional players. According to Bill Skowron, who played for Austin, Minnesota, after his sophomore year at Purdue, the Southern Minny was better than the Class-B Piedmont League, where he played in 1951. “I think Austin would have made a good Double-A team,” he said. “There were great pitchers in that league.”30

Many minor-league teams were protesting raiding of their players by Minnesota’s semipro leagues. National Association president George Trautman sent Fairmont Martins manager Jim McNulty — then in the Western Minnesota League — a telegram threatening legal action for causing players to breach their professional contracts.31 Rochester manager Ben Sternberg received similar warnings for signing Lincoln, Nebraska infielder Fred Hancock.32 These actions had no effect on teams who were looking to improve their rosters with players who had professional experience. So many players from around the country showed up in Minnesota on the Chicago and North Western 400 that it was christened “the Baseball Train.”33

By 1955 the number of teams in the state was down to 600, and there were only two all-salaried leagues remaining. Technically, Nielsen could not play on any of these teams because the Minnesota Baseball Association had made a rule that a man who had retired from a professional league classified Single-A or higher was not eligible to play for 13 months after his last game.34 The state’s Class-AA leagues held firm on this rule, but Class-A and Class-B leagues could obtain permission to sign men like Nielsen if they were Minnesota natives and were returning home to take up permanent residence. Windom did not have a team in 1955, but officials at Worthington, a larger town 30 miles from Windom, recruited him. Worthington received permission from the Minnesota Baseball Association for Nielsen to be their player-manager for its team in the Class-A First Night League (so named in 1949 when it bragged that it was the first league to schedule all its games under lights.)

Nielsen played and managed there for two seasons. In the spring of 1957 he decided to try to move up to Class AA. By now the Southern Minnesota League was the sole Class-AA league left in the state, consisting of towns in the southern part of the state, on or within 40 miles of the current route of I-90. Fairmont, the state champions in 1954 and 1955, was about 45 miles from Windom. Jim McNulty, a Brooklyn native and former Brooklyn Dodgers farmhand, was the team’s manager and also owned a bar in Fairmont called the “Martin’s Nest.”

Nielsen took a chance one day and drove to the Martin’s Nest. He found McNulty tending bar and told him he’d played a lot of ball and had been player-manager for Worthington the past two years. Then he asked McNulty, “Could you use another athlete?” McNulty had not heard of him, and replied, “Nah, I’ve got all the athletes I need,” Nielsen recalled. “I’d never been so humiliated. It was a long ride home.”35

Fortunately for Nielsen, as well as McNulty, the bar owner recounted the encounter to a couple of friends at the bar later that night. Harry Pritts, a six-year minor leaguer who had pitched for the Martins in 1955, told McNulty he’d made a mistake. So did Ken Staples, a former Dodger farmhand who had played against Nielsen in the Texas League in 1949. McNulty swallowed his pride, called Nielsen and asked him to try out in an exhibition game in New Ulm. Nielsen was still angry, but agreed. McNulty signed him right after he saw Nielsen punish the ball in batting practice.

Nielsen played four years at Fairmont. The 1957 team became the last champions in Minnesota’s Class-AA era. All but two of the 12 men on that team had played professional baseball — one (Nielsen) had reached as far as the major leagues, two made Triple-A (Don Dahlke, Gordy Figard), five made Double A (Harry Pritts, Myron Hoffman, Herb Banton, Ken Staples, Loyal Bloxam), one made Single A (Dick Eaton), and one (McNulty) made it to Class C. Ken Yackel was a three-sport letterman at the University of Minnesota. He did not play pro baseball, but was on the 1952 US Olympic Hockey Team and played a few games with the NHL Boston Bruins in 1959. Bill Dudding did not play pro ball, either, but was a veteran of Minnesota and Iowa semipro leagues. Only two players — Yackel and Staples — were from Minnesota, and none were from Fairmont.

Nielsen was paid $700 per month by Fairmont in 1957. The Southern Minnesota League dropped down to Class A in 1958 and adopted a salary cap. Average attendance in Southern Minny towns like Austin (1950 population: 23,100) had dropped from 2,691 in 1950 to 1,077 in 1955, and the expensive semipro teams were no longer affordable. Fairmont (1950 population: 8,193) drew an average of 1,229 in 1955.36 The Minneapolis Millers of the Triple-A American Association drew an average of 3,095 in 1950, for comparison, and that was down to 2,303 in 1955. Their crosstown American Association rivals in St. Paul averaged 2,634 and 1,537, respectively, in 1950 and 1955.37 Nielsen recalled he was paid $600 per month in 1958, and $300 per month in 1959 and 1960.38

Nielsen decided to retire after the 1960 season. An old friend had hired him as a car salesman at his Windom dealership in 1957, and Marilyn gave birth to twin daughters, Lynette and Lori, in 1958. He was 36 now and figured it was finally time to settle down. However, Windom had a pretty good Class-B town team in 1961, and their manager talked him into joining the team in midseason to play in at least three league games to make him eligible for the postseason playoffs. Nielsen vowed this time it would really be his last season.

Nielsen’s exit from amateur baseball was as splashy as his last hurrah at Indianapolis in 1954. He helped the team win the league and regional playoffs to earn a spot in the 1961 Class-B State Tournament held in St. Cloud that year. Windom won its first two games in the tournament to qualify for the four-team double elimination finals, and finished third in the 20-team field. Nielsen hit .438 in five games, 7-for-16, and drew five walks for a .571 OBA.39

Nielsen moved to St. Peter, Minnesota, in 1967 to manage the Clements Auto Company Chevrolet dealership. He bought the company — renaming it Nielsen Chevrolet — in 1986. He retired in 1991, and his son Robert, daughter Lynn and her husband Paul Rislove eventually bought the dealership. In 1999 the family purchased a Clements Chrysler dealership in Waseca, Minnesota.

When asked if he ever wondered what might have happened if he might have been able to play pro baseball in those years he spent in the Navy, 1943–1945, he said he never thought about it. “A lot of guys just like me spent several years in the service,” he replied. “Nobody ever asked why we fought the war. We just did it. I met a lot of great people in baseball — in the pros and in Minnesota — and wouldn’t change a thing!”40

Nielsen died on August 1, 2005, in Mankato, Minnesota. His wife, Marilyn, died on June 16, 2008, in St. Peter, Minnesota.

 

Acknowledgments

This biography was reviewed by Bill Nowlin and Rory Costello and fact-checked by Chris Rainey.

 

Sources

In addition to the sources cited in the Notes, the author also consulted Baseball-Reference.com, Retrosheet.org, Milt Nielsen’s player file from the National Baseball Hall of Fame, and numerous newspapers.

 

Notes

1 Milt Nielsen, interview with author, October 3, 2003.

2 Milt Nielsen, interview with author, August 28, 2004.

3 Milt Nielsen, interview with author, August 28, 2004.

4 Lake Benton News, April 30, 1942.

5 Milt Nielsen, interview with author, October 3, 2003.

6 U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS Data, 1850-2010. Hennepin County (Minnesota) Ancestry.com Library Edition.

7 Contract Completed: 110th United States Naval Construction Battalion (Baton Rouge, Louisiana: Army & Navy Pictorial Publishers, 1946). https://www.google.com/books/edition/Contract_Completed/n34X-8GI0SgC?hl=en, accessed April 1, 2020.

8 Milt Nielsen, interview with author, October 3, 2003.

9 Contract Completed, “Battalion Sports Champions.”

10 John Old, “Feller’s Bonanza Tops Ruth’s Richest Take,” The Sporting News, November 6, 1946: 1,2.

11 Ed McAuley, “Veeck Fills His Market Basket With Bargains,” The Sporting News, December 11, 1946: 11.

12 Milt Nielsen, interview with author, October 3, 2003.

13 Ed McAuley, “Rosen, Boone and Garcia Top Papooses on Tribe,” The Sporting News, March 16, 1949: 8.

14 “Indian Country: Spring Stomping Ground of World Champions,” The Sporting News, March 16, 1949: 9.

15 Professional Player Database Version 5.0, Old-Time Data, Inc. RBIs were not available in Baseball-reference.com when this bio was written. In his 2003 interview with the author, Nielsen thought that he actually had 116 RBIs.

16 “Major Barnstormers Swing Into Action on Many Trails,” The Sporting News, October 19, 1949: 26.

17 Ed McAuley, “Cleveland’s Roster for ’50 Smallest Since War Years,” The Sporting News, March 29, 1950: 17.

18 Hal Lebovitz, “Cleveland’s New Brooms Preparing to Clean House,” The Sporting News, February 8, 1950: 8.

19 Harry Jones, “Murray Clouts 2 Homers for Tribe,” Plain Dealer (Cleveland), March 21, 1950: 20.

20 Hal Lebovitz, “Lopez Lamps Some Promising Papooses in Preliminary Play,” The Sporting News, March 7, 1951: 18.

21 Hal Lebovitz, “Lopez Lamps Some Promising Papooses in Preliminary Play.”

22 Hal Lebovitz, “Indianapolis Club Bought by Tribe to Build Up Farms,” The Sporting News, August 1, 1951: 14.

23 Milt Nielsen, interview with author, October 3, 2003.

24 Milt Nielsen, interview with author, October 3, 2003.

25 “Caught on the Fly,” The Sporting News, October 27, 1954: 27.

26 Milt Nielsen, interview with author, October 3, 2003.

27 Milt Nielsen, interview with author, October 3, 2003.

28 Armand Peterson and Tom Tomashek, Town Ball: The Glory Days of Minnesota Amateur Baseball (Minneapolis, Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press, 2006), 128.

29 Tom Briere, “Semi-Pro Leader Suggests Raid Ban,” The Sporting News, September 8, 1954: 6.

30 Bill Skowron, telephone interview with author, May 7, 2003.

31 “Caught on the Fly,” The Sporting News, July 8, 1953: 38.

32 Tom Briere, “Semi-Pro Leader Suggests Raid Ban.”

33 Peterson and Tomashek, Town Ball, 33.

34 “Constitution, By-Laws, Regional and State Tournament Rules,” Minnesota Baseball Association, Inc. (Revised, 1952) 13.

35 Peterson and Tomashek, Town Ball, 256.

36 Author files, compiled from local newspaper microfilms at the Gale Family Library, Minnesota History Center, 345 W. Kellogg Blvd, St. Paul, Minnesota, 55102.

37 Lloyd Johnson and Miles Wolff, ed. The Encyclopedia of Minor League Baseball (Baseball America, 1997).

38 Milt Nielsen, interview with author, August 28, 2004.

39 Statistics compiled by author from box scores published in the St. Cloud [Minnesota] Daily Times.

40 Milt Nielsen, interview with author, October 3, 2003.

Full Name

Milton Robert Nielsen

Born

February 8, 1925 at Tyler, MN (USA)

Died

August 1, 2005 at Mankato, MN (USA)

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