Nebraska Minor League Baseball
Nebraska State League

Nebraska State League
Standings 1958
President: Mike Hollinger
Standings Win-- Loss-- GB--- Attendance Manager
North Platte Indians (CLE) 41 22 -- 18,766 Mark Wylie
McCook Braves (MIL) 40 23 1 17,372 Bill Steinecke
Grand Island A's (KC) 33 30 8 18,762 Art Mazmanian
Kearney Yankees (NYY) 33 30 8 14,147 Randy Gumpert
Lexington Red Sox (BOS) 30 33 11 12,838 Jack Kaiser
Holdrege White Sox (CHI) 29 34 12 11,565 George Noga
Hastings Giants (SF) 24 39 17 11,522 Leo Schrall
Superior Senators (WAS) 22 41 19 8,953 Hal Keller

BA: Ron Debus, Grand Island, .393
Runs:Larry Bulla, North Platte, 68
Hits:Jerry McNertney, Holdrege, 84
RBIs:Keith Williams, North Platte, 72
HRs:Keith Williams, North Platte, 12
Wins:Ceferino Foy, McCook, 10
Tom Gansauer, North Platte, 10
SOs:Bill Spanswick, Lexington, 142
ERA:Larry Del Margo, Kearney, 2.25

The minor leagues began to contract in 1958. Television brought a major league game into your living room every week. Attendance dropped to 113, 925 for the 1958 season (Baseball Digest April 1959).

The Milwaukee Braves held a tryout camp in Rushville Nebraska. Rushville is a town in northwest Nebraska and has a population of about 1,500. The camp drew high school and college age kids from a 600 mile radius.

The Rushville camp was one of those too good to be true stories. It starts with Albert and Mayre Modisett. They came from Virginia and settled in Rushville. When they died (one in 35 the other in 1944) they left a significant endowement to the town of Rushville. The town build a city park, a community hall, a lodge, a home for old men and a ball diamond.

The baseball park had substantial stands, a sodded infield, good lights and an underground sprinkler system. It was hailed as a layout worthy of a minor league team.

Then came Gene Leahy, brother of Frank Leahy (yes that Frank Leahy). Gene played football for Creighton University (yes, Creighton had football at one time). He was also a light heavyweight boxer. According to the Baseball Digest he played in the Nebraska State League as an outfielder but I can find no record of him playing in the class "D" NSL. . He was a pharmacist and insurance salesman in Rushville.

Gene knew Fred Miller, an executive with the Braves. Miller introduced Leahy to John Quinn, manager of the Braves. The result was that Rushville held the only major league tryout school in Nebraska for a number of years. The town opened their homes to house the boys who came to Rushville. Everyone bought a ticket to attend the tryouts for $5.00.

The tryouts consisted of two days of drills and instructions. On the third day two teams of all stars were picked and they played against each other. Crowds of 3,000, twice the population of Rushville were common for the game. The Braves promised that at least one boy would be invited to a minor league camp the next year.

The 1958 Baseball Guide indicated that Dale Hendrickson from Gering Nebraska was signed out of the Rushville school in 1954. Baseball Reference declares that he was born in Broadwater Nebraska, a town about an hour southeast of Gering. He played for Lawton in the Sooner State League in 1955 and played through the 1961 season in the minor leagues. While states like Michigan had 10 such schools and Ohio 7, there were few school west of the Mississippi. California had one tryout in Los Angeles run by Pittsburg and and New Mexico had one in Los Alamos run by the Cardinals. There were a couple of tryouts in Missouri run by Kansas City but Rushville was the closest for anyone in most of the plains states.

Jerry McNertney was signed by the White Sox in 1958 as an amateur free agent. The 21 year old from Boone Iowa averaged .328 for the Holdrege White Sox and led the league in hits with 84. He was promoted to the major league White Sox in 1964 and played mainly as a catcher for nine seasons.
Two players from the league champion North Platte team made it to the majors. Doc Edwards was the Indians catcher for the year. He averaged .359 for North Platte in 1958. He played for five years in the majors starting with Cleveland in 1962. Jose Ramon Lopez, from Cuba, was signed as a free agent in 1958. He was 4-3 in 14 games in 1958. He used his pitching skills to make it to the majors with the Angels in 1966.

On August 21, 1958, Bill Spanswick, Lexington, lefty, struck out 22 while pitching a one hit, 13-0 victory over Superior. Earlier in the year the twenty year old flinger struck out 24 in a 14 inning game. He is in the Enfield High School Sports Hall of Fame and went for one year to Holy Cross College before signing with the Red Sox. In 1959 he played for Raleigh in the Carolina League where he was the leading pitcher in the league. He was 15-4 for the year with a 2.49 ERA. The Springfield MA native made his major league debut in 1964. He played for the Red Sox for one season and appeared in 29 games.

Horace Clarke was signed by the Yankees as an amateur free agent in 1958. The 18 year old from the Virgin Islands had a tough time in his first year of professional ball averaging .225 in 54 games. He improved each year and in 1961 led the Eastern League with 40 steals. in 1962 he batted .300 for Amarillo in the "AA" Texas League and in 1964 he was a .299 hitter with Richmond. He made his major league debut in 1965 and played with the Yankees for nine years. The Baseball in the Virgin Islands site has a great biography of him with pictures.

Another Kearney Yankee in 1958 was Pete Mikkelsen . He was an 18 year old who signed with the Yanks in 1958. He appeared in 16 games for the Kearney Yankees and was 0-4. He made it to the major league Yankees in 1964 where he was 7-4 for the year. He played a total of nine years for five different teams mainly as a reliever.

August 24, 1958,McCook lost to Grand Island (3-2) after 18 straight wins.

North Platte Indians 1958 McCook Braves 1958
Grand Island A's 1958 Kearney Yankees 1958
Lexington Red Sox 1958 Holdrege White Sox 1958
Hastings Giants 1958 Superior Senators 1958

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