Nebraska Minor League Baseball
Nebraska State League
McCook Braves 1959

What a team. Phil Niekro, Ellie Hendricks and Ron Hunt, all future major league stars, all in McCook Nebraska in 1959. The year was captured in a great memoir by bonus baby pitcher Pat Jordan in his excellent novel "A False Spring". So, if you want to read about the McCook Braves in 1959, I recommend you read this book.

story here

Lefty Frank Saia held down first for McCook in 1959. He played in 62 games, averaged .294 and participated in the only triple play in the league.

Second base was split between Charles Carlan who played in 47 games at second and 55 games overall. He averaged .295 for the year. The other player in the dirt at the keystone position was John Anderson who played in 47 games and averaged .254.

Short stop for the McCook Braves was Carl Derr he played in 62 games and averaged .282.

Major League All Star
Ron Hunt was signed by the Braves as an amateur free agent in 1959. The 18 year old St. Louis native played in all 62 games for McCook at third base in 1959 and averaged .284. In 1960 and 61 he played for Cedar Rapids in the III league and in 1962 he played for Austin in the Texas League. He made it to the big leagues in 1963 with the Mets and led the club that year in batting and in hits. He played in the majors for 12 seasons. He was a major league all star selection in 1964 and 1966.


Ken Cullum was one of the iron men in the garden. The port side swinger played in 61 games and averaged .246. He was joined by another port sider, R. Barry Morgan who played 52 games in the garden and averaged .285 for the season. The third man in the outfield was William Stevens who averaged .317 in 61 games.

Others who played for McCook in 1959 included Tim Strickland who appeared in 49 games and averaged .299 from the left side of the plate. Pedro Garcia played in 23 games and averaged .286. Francis Aldonis played in 13 games and averaged .250.

Angel Louis Alcarez (Acosta) was a pinch hitter in one game during 1959. Next year he was in Orlando. Stops in Salem, Keokuk, Santa Barbara, Spokane, Omaha and others followed. He had a short stint with the Kansas City Royals in 1969 and 1970. Then back to the minors in Tucson, Puebla, Cordoba and Leon. He also managed at Leon in the Mexican League in 1979 and 1980.

Ellie Hendricks was an 18 year old catcher from the Virgin Islands. Signed as an amateur free agent in 1959, he caught 17 games for the McCook Braves in 1959. He was a fixture with the Baltimore Orioles from 1968-1979. He then became a bullpen coach helping younger players. See Baseball in the Virgin Islands web site for more information about Ellie Hendricks.

Joseph Shields caught 26 games and averaged .288 for the year. Both he and Ellie had a fun time trying to catch the knuckleballs from Phil Niekro.


Paul Chenger was the top pitcher in the Nebraska State League in 1959. He appeared in 14 games and had a 10-1 record. He also helped himself at the plate averaging .366. In 1962 he was with Yakima as was Bruce Brubaker. The Coatsville Ledger had a good synopsis of his career and it is recorded on the Coatsville Red Raider Web site.

Hall of Fame
Phil Niekro was signed by Milwaukee in July of 1958. The nineteen year old knuckleball specialist pitched in 23 games for McCook in 1959 and had a 7-1 record. He made it to the parent Braves in 1964 and his career is the stuff of legends. A 24 year major league career, 318 victories, five all star games, five golden gloves, a league leading 1.87 ERA in 1967, 23 wins in 1969 and 21 wins in 1979 are just a few of the highlights of his amazing career.

Dennis Overby was a port side flinger who had an 8-2 record for the 1959 season. Ray Orlikowski was another lefty who appeared in 15 games and had a 4-0 record. Earl Stabell appeared 9 times and had a 1-2 record.

Dennis Tajchman flung the apple in 10 games and was 1-1 for the year and lefty William Marnie was undefeated with a 3-0 record in four appearances.

Pat Jordan was a bonus baby in 1959. He received a bonus of over $45,000 ($8,750 for four years) to sign with the Braves. The high school phenom from Bridgeport, Connecticut was a top prospect for the Braves. His career was short as he only played for three years. In 1959 he appeared in 12 games and had a 3-3 record. He is better known for writing one of the best baseball books of all time. A False Spring, recalls his days in the minor leagues. It is a fascinating story and has a prominent place in my baseball library. It is available on Amazon and I can highly recommend it.

Bruce Brubaker was signed as an amateur free agent in 1959 by Milwaukee. The 18 year old from Harrisburg Pennsylvania pitched in 12 games for McCook in 1959. He had a 3-4 record. He was 16-5 for Wellsville in 1960. He was in Austin and Cedar Rapids in 1961 and was 9-10 for Yakima in 1962. He was 7-5 for Austin in 1963 and spend 1964 and 65 in Syracuse. He was 8-13 for San Diego in 1966. He made his major league debut in 1967 with the Dodgers were he appeared in one game. He had another cup of coffee with Milwaukee in 1970 where he also appeared in one game.

Nebraska State League Standings 1959

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