Nyls Nyman

This article was written by Michael Trzinski

Nyls Nyman (Trading Card DB)For almost all his high-school career, and in his early minor-league years in the Chicago White Sox organization, Nyls Nyman was stamped as a surefire star. In 1974 when Nyman was in spring training with Double-A Knoxville, manager Jim Napier had nothing but praise for the 20-year-old Californian. “Nyls has everything it takes to make it to the major leagues,” Napier said. “He has the three things scouts look for: speed, hitting, and arm. If he isn’t a can’t-miss star of the future, I’ve never seen one.”1

After seeing his speedy outfielder play for a couple of months, Napier went on to say, “Nyls Nyman has ‘big leaguer’ written right across his forehead. He is the complete player.”2 Nyman made it to the big leagues in 1974 and had an outstanding September, but his season ended after an errant pitch by California’s Andy Hassler chipped a bone in his elbow. He played 106 games the following season but wasn’t the same player, dealing with a groin injury and an avulsion fracture in his left ankle for most of the season.

Nyman subsequently hurt his throwing shoulder in winter ball. He played only nine games in the majors over the next two seasons and was out of baseball two years after that at age 25.

Nyls Wallace Rex Nyman Jr. was born on March 7, 1954, in Detroit, Michigan to Nyls Sr. and Catherine (née Dedalis) Nyman. Nyls Sr. was employed by the US Postal Service, and Catherine was a homemaker. The family was composed of seven children—five boys and two girls. Brother Chris Nyman played 49 games for the White Sox in the early 1980s, while the other three brothers all played college baseball.

Nyls—pronounced “Niles”—loved football as a youngster and played in the Detroit area. That would change when the family moved to California in 1966. “Mom wanted us to move so the boys could play baseball year-round,” Nyman said with a chuckle years later. “She was the ‘athlete’ in the family.”3 Nyman attended St. Pius X Seminary in Galt, California, his first two years of high school, playing baseball and basketball. He transferred to Rancho Cordova High School for his junior and senior years, playing baseball both years and football his senior year. “I had a growth spurt between my junior and senior years,” Nyman said. “I wanted to play football again.”4

He was named to the 1972 Sacramento All-Area baseball team. Nyman batted .456 (41-for-90), scored 30 runs, and knocked in 27. The newspaper coverage mentioned his defense (“Plays left field as if he owns it”) and speed (“Considered fastest man on Cordova’s fleet-footed team”).5 That Rancho Cordova baseball program had tons of talent, as proven by the MLB draft classes of 1971-1973. Larry Wolfe and Donald Reese were chosen in 1971, while Nyman, Mike Ondina, and Jerry Manuel were selected in 1972. Ondina and Manuel were first-round picks, while Nyman went in the 16th round. Brother Chris Nyman and Randy Lerch were tabbed in the 1973 draft. All but Ondina and Reese played in the majors. (Chris Nyman won a College World Series championship while at Arizona State in 1977 and was named to the all-tournament team.6)

After graduation Nyls Nyman played in the California North-South All-Star Game at Candlestick Park in late June and went 2-for-3, including a triple, in his team’s 4–3 win over the South. The next day legendary White Sox scout Dario Lodigiani signed Nyman for $18,000.7 Nyman also was named to the all-state team.8

Nyman, who was 6 feet even, 170 pounds, and threw and batted left, was assigned to the White Sox rookie team in the Gulf Coast League. He had a slash line of .288/.347/.328, with 11 steals in 14 attempts in his first season of pro ball, once again flashing his hitting and running tools.

Still just 18 Nyman was assigned to Appleton in the Single-A Midwest League the following season. He had a good start to the 1973 season, playing center field and batting .318 after three weeks before injuring his left shoulder on the bases in a game against Danville.9 Nyman missed nearly three weeks and then came back as a first baseman, the theory being that playing at first would be easier on his left arm. “I was put back into the lineup at first base while it continued to heal,” Nyman recalled. “Well, that took so long that I was voted onto the all-star team as the starting first baseman.”10

Nyman told a humorous story related to the contest: “When I showed up for the game, Jim Leyland (an all-star team coach) asked me where my first baseman’s glove was. I told him that I didn’t have one, that I’m a center fielder. He said that I made the team as a first baseman and dug up a glove for me.”11 Nyman batted fifth and went 1-for-4 in a 4–3 loss to Wisconsin Rapids, the host team. Notable players in that game were Jerry Remy, Claudell Washington, and Chet Lemon. After the all-star game, Nyman moved back to his normal spot in center field, while June 1973 draft pick Mike Squires took over at first base.

Nyman was named Appleton’s Most Valuable Player after finishing fourth in Midwest League batting with a .316 mark and ninth in steals with 25. On defense Nyman ranked seventh in the league with 11 outfield assists. That winter he played for the White Sox entry in the Florida Instructional League, along with future major-leaguers Bee Bee Richard, Lamar Johnson, Mike Buskey, and Ken Frailing.

In 1974 Nyman moved up to Double-A Knoxville in the Southern League. He played well enough to be named to the all-star team, this time in the outfield. On August 13 the all-stars took on the Minnesota Twins in Jacksonville, Florida. Nyman led off and collected one hit in two at-bats in a 3–1 win over the Twins.12

After being named the Southern League Player of the Month for July, Nyman was promoted to Triple-A Iowa. Normally a player is ecstatic when he gets bumped up to the next level of competition. Nyman was not in this case. “‘I don’t want to go—I’d like to stay right here and help the gang win the pennant,’” he said years later that he told Napier.13 “He told me he didn’t have a choice. If they want me to go, I have to go.”14

Nyman’s final numbers at Knoxville were dominant. He led the league in runs scored, hits, and triples. He placed in the top six in doubles, RBIs, stolen bases, and batting average. The fleet fly chaser later was named Southern League Player of the Year in voting by managers and sportswriters.15

Nyman played only a dozen games for Iowa and had a lowly .140 batting average (6-for-43) but still earned a call-up to Chicago. In his last game in Iowa, he was hit in the quadriceps by a Rawly Eastwick pitch and left the game. “I limped into Comiskey Park the next day,” Nyman said with a laugh.16

Nyman made his major-league debut at Anaheim Stadium on September 6 against the California Angels, pinch-running for Carlos May in the top of the ninth. He was stranded at first in a 4–2 loss. His next game came four days later and was much more memorable.

Before 3,285 fans on a windy, warm evening at Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington, Minnesota, the White Sox took on the Twins. In the top of the ninth, with the White Sox trailing, 4–1, manager Chuck Tanner called back designated hitter Ron Santo and sent Nyman to the plate. “My dad was a huge Ron Santo fan, and he thought it was pretty cool that I pinch-hit for him,” Nyman recalled years later.17 Ken Henderson, who had singled, was on first with no outs, with reliever Bill Campbell on the mound. Nyman lashed a double to right field, moving Henderson to third. The next batter, Brian Downing, hit a three-run homer to left field, tying the game, 4–4.

The contest went extra innings. Nyman got another chance in the 10th and hit a comebacker to pitcher Tom Burgmeier for the third out. Each team scored a run in the 11th inning to make it 5–5. In the 12th Nyman came to the plate against Burgmeier with one out and Henderson on first, but the rookie grounded into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning. Both teams scored a run in the 13th inning to make it 6–6. Nyman had another chance in the 14th and came through with a base hit to center, scoring Jorge Orta for a 7–6 lead. Unfortunately for Chicago Tony Oliva knocked in Eric Soderholm in the bottom half of the 14th to tie the game, 7–7. Finally, in the bottom of the 15th, four hours and seven minutes after the game started, Larry Hisle singled home Rod Carew to give the Twins an 8–7 victory.

After not playing September 11 Nyman played in each of the next three games. In his first major-league start, in a game that was halted by rain with Texas and Chicago tied, 2–2, in the sixth inning, he went 2-for-3 with a triple. The next day the Angels and White Sox met for a doubleheader. In game one Nyman led off and went 3-for-5, scored twice, and knocked in a pair of runs in an 8–0 win. Game two started out well, as Nyman went 2-for-2 with a double and an RBI. In his third at-bat against Andy Hassler in the bottom of the sixth, Nyman was hit on the right elbow and went to first. He stole second and scored on a single by Henderson. Nyman then left the game and did not play the rest of the season due to the pitch from Hassler that chipped a bone in his elbow. His final numbers were impressive: 9-for-14 (.643), five runs, two doubles and a triple, along with four RBIs and one stolen base.

Years later when asked about his elbow injury, Nyman said, “I can tell you with certainty that it had no physical or mental impact on my career. Two months after the injury, I was conditioning and training at one hundred percent.”18

The awards for Nyman continued that off-season. He was named to the Double-A All-Star team and earned a George M. Trautman Memorial Award and an engraved silver bowl from Topps for being named Southern League Player of the Year.19

The White Sox had high hopes for Nyman in 1975. “If rookie Nyls Nyman can make it like he played last September, he’ll be in center field,” Tanner said.20

Nyman played well in the spring and was penciled into the regular season starting lineup as the left fielder, batting leadoff. The first game of the season in Oakland was attended by his parents, both sisters, and three brothers among the crowd of 17,477.21 Nyman did them proud, going 1-for-3 and making a nice catch against the outfield fence. He played well for the first week or so, batting .263 in 38 at-bats but then struggled for the next month. In his next 26 games he hit a minuscule .127 (10-for-79), probably because of the ankle and groin injuries.

Nyman started only six games in June and then eased back into the lineup over the rest of the season. Nyman hit his first big-league home run off Boston’s Jim Willoughby on August 23. As the calendar turned to September, Nyman was hitting .206. Getting healthy helped him in the final month, as he hit .291 (23-for-79) to raise his season average to .226. “I remember a kind moment (Tanner and I) had the last month of the season while my hitting was improving,” Nyman recalled. “He said to me, ‘You know you belong here now.’ I always looked up to him; he was a bigger-than-life figure.”22

After the season Nyman was sent to Hermosillo in the Mexican Pacific League. “(White Sox general manager) Roland Hemond thought that because I had missed so much time that season with a groin injury and a chip fracture in my left ankle, that playing winter ball would be a good idea,” Nyman remembered later.23 About two months into the season, Nyman made a long throw from center field. “The pain was immediate and intense,” he said. The White Sox sent Nyman to famed orthopedic surgeon Dr. Frank Jobe in Los Angeles. Nyman received treatment for the rest of the winter and was told the prognosis wasn’t good for his injured left shoulder. “He told me that he could operate but that there was only a fifty percent chance that I’d ever throw again,” Nyman said. “In the mid-Seventies, there was no such thing as a reconstructive surgery for the shoulder.”24

Prior to spring training in 1976, Nyman was still very much in the team’s plans, slated for the starting center field spot. “I got to spring training and couldn’t throw,” he said years later.25 By late March the White Sox and Nyman were concerned. “I don’t know if that fellow can throw,” said manager Paul Richards. “I got to have someone who can not only go get it, but get it back.” Nyman said, “I’m starting to worry about it.”26 Nyman batted only eight times in the spring and was one of the last cuts for the White Sox, sent back down to Triple-A Iowa.

In early June Nyman, who was batting .308 in Triple A, was recalled.27 He played in each of the White Sox’s next eight games, including four starts, but batted only .133 (2-for-15). Nyman sat on the bench for a few days and was sent back down to Iowa, where he finished the season. His Triple-A numbers were respectable: His 27 doubles and five home runs were career highs, and Nyman had a .282/.341/.413 batting line in 104 games.

The next season Nyman hit .257 (10-for-39) during spring training28 and began the regular season with the White Sox, pinch-hitting for Alan Bannister in the eighth inning on Opening Day, with the White Sox trailing the Toronto Blue Jays, 7–5. With two out and two on, Nyman grounded to first for the final out of the inning off pitcher Pete Vuckovich, who had been a teammate of Nyman’s at Knoxville in 1974. That was his final major league at-bat.

He was sent down to Iowa again a few days later and played well until late August, when he was the proverbial “player to be named later” in a complicated trade with St. Louis for pitcher Clay Carroll and shortstop Don Kessinger. (Pitchers Dave Hamilton, Silvio Martinez, and Steve Staniland would go from Chicago to St. Louis after the season.29) Nyman played for Iowa on August 20, and then played for New Orleans the following day … in Iowa against the Oaks. He went 2-for-5 in a 6–4 win over his old teammates.30

Nyman finished his year strong, batting .300 (15-for-50) in 12 games for New Orleans. His final stats for the season showed a .277/.332/.382 slash line across 411 at-bats.31

In 1978 Nyman played for the Triple-A affiliate of the Cardinals, which had moved from New Orleans to Springfield, Illinois. He still suffered from his shoulder injury and played 23 games at first base, 17 games in the outfield, and about 40 games as the designated hitter. “I was rarely playing outfield,” Nyman said years later. “Occasionally I would spell Dane Iorg at first base, but otherwise I was one of the DHs.”32 In a total of 88 games, Nyman slashed .245/.282/.333, with 11 stolen bases.

Nyman began spring training with the Cardinals organization in 1979 but was released before the season began. In early May the Triple-A Indianapolis Indians signed Nyman as a free agent.33 Things didn’t go well in Indiana, as the former White Sox phenom batted only .189/.247/.294 for the Cincinnati Reds’ top affiliate in a two-month audition. One day after the Fourth of July, Nyman was given his unconditional release.34 “After that I figured getting released twice in the same year was enough, and it was time to start thinking about something else to get into,” Nyman said.35

Over the next dozen or so years, Nyman was an assistant baseball coach at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville; assistant at Illinois State University; head coach at Lincoln College in Lincoln, Illinois; and head coach at Kankakee Community College.

Nyman worked full time at Lassen College in Susanville, California, from 1992 to 2006 in various capacities, including director of student life and a stint as director of camp programs. Since then, he has worked part time as an instructor at Lassen. Nyman also has worked as an instructor with youth and coaches’ clinics for MLB Alumni.

Nyls and Carrie (née Crowhurst) Nyman live in Susanville and have four grown children—three sons and one daughter.

Last revised: June 19, 2024



Special thanks to Nyls Nyman for his input via phone, email, and text messages, February/March 2024.

This biography was reviewed by Rory Costello and Will Christensen and fact-checked by Tom Reinsfelder.



In addition to the sources cited in the Notes, the author consulted Baseball-Reference.com and Retrosheet.org.



1 Harold Harris, “Nyls Nyman … Sox’ Star of Future,” Knoxville (TN) News-Sentinel, April 29, 1974: 18.

2 Marco Smolich, “Henson, Nyman, Clark Top the Grab Bag,” Sacramento (CA) Bee, June 22, 1974: B1.

3 Nyls Nyman, telephone conversation, March 4, 2024.

4 Nyls Nyman, telephone conversation, March 4, 2024.

5 Ben Bodding, “Jerry Manuel Heads All-Star Nine,” Sacramento Bee, June 4, 1972: C8.

6 “Devils dominate all-tourney,” Tampa (FL) Times, June 20, 1977: 4-C.

7 Nyls Nyman, text message, March 5, 2024.

8 “North Nudges South 4-3,” Sacramento Bee, June 25, 1972: C5.

9 “Nyman leads Foxes Hitters,” Post-Crescent (Appleton, WI), May 27, 1973: D-2.

10 Nyls Nyman, text message, March 4, 2024.

11 Nyls Nyman, text message, March 4, 2024.

12 “Velasquez Leads SL Youngsters to Star Victory,” Alabama Journal (Montgomery, AL), August 14, 1974: 36.

13 Harold Harris, “Sox Lose Nyman to Iowa,” Knoxville News-Sentinel, August 23, 1974: 16.

14 Nyls Nyman, telephone conversation, March 4, 2024.

15 Harold Harris, “K-Sox, A’s Play 2 Here Sunday,” Knoxville News-Sentinel, August 31, 1974: 6.

16 Nyls Nyman, telephone conversation, March 4, 2024.

17 Nyls Nyman, telephone conversation, March 4, 2024.

18 Nyls Nyman, text message, March 4, 2024.

19 Trautman was the president of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues from 1947 until his death in 1963.

20 “Tanner sees Chisox as contender,” Post-Crescent, January 16, 1975: B-9.

21 Marco Smolich, “Cutbacks, Nyman, Small Turnout at A’s Opener,” Sacramento Bee, April 9, 1975: F1.

22 Nyls Nyman, text message, March 6, 2024.

23 Nyls Nyman, text message, March 6, 2024.

24 Nyls Nyman, text message, March 6, 2024.

25 Nyls Nyman, text message, March 6, 2024.

26 Bob Verdi, “Nyls troubled by arm injury,” Chicago Tribune, March 23, 1976: Section 4, Page 1.

27 “Oaks Lose Nyman, Bannister to Sox; Get Ewing, Yancy,” Des Moines (IA) Tribune, June 2, 1976: 25.

28 Sox Averages, Chicago Tribune, April 7, 1977: Section 4, Page 5.

29 “Cards Get Two Pitchers,” Fresno (CA) Bee, December 2, 1977: C2.

30 Randy Peterson, “Nyman’s hits set back Oaks after puzzling shift to foe,” Des Moines Tribune, August 22, 1977: 13.

31 The statistics differ from the total found in Baseball-reference.com. The author used weekly statistics from the Des Moines Tribune and individual box scores from various newspapers to compile the statistics.

32 Nyls Nyman, text message, March 9, 2024.

33 “Indianapolis adds Nyman,” Springfield (MO) News-Leader, May 10, 1979: 3D.

34 “Nyman released by Indians,” Reporter-Times (Martinsville, Indiana), July 6, 1979: 6.

35 Kevin Hieronymus, “Illinois State adds Nyman,” Herald and Review (Decatur, Illinois), September 21, 1982: B2.

Full Name

Nyls Wallace Rex Nyman


March 7, 1954 at Detroit, MI (USA)

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