One Great Question From A Cubs Pitcher

Why did Topps
recycle its 1968 shot
of Nye? Like he
couldn’t be bothered
to pose?

I’m gearing up for an off-season of letters. Along with names on my wish list, I’m wanting to ask questions that haven’t been done to death.

Here’s one sparked by my 2011 response from Rich Nye.

In the pre-cable days, NBC’s Game of the Week mattered.

I’m wanting to know:

Stats don’t show which hits or strikeouts came when being nationally-televised. Did one person have one great moment shared with America?

Be my guest. Ask away. Let me know what you learn in your responses.

Good luck (to us all)!

Cub Rich Nye Shines On TV For Family

“I truly loved playing
the game.”

Sometimes, a win is more than just the “W” in the box score or a bump in the standings. Sometimes, the victory comes in sharing with your family, Rich Nye reminded.

“You mentioned the “Game of the Week.” I remember it well. It was the first time my parents (on the West Coast) had a chance to see me pitch in the majors. It was against Cincinnati and I pitched into the 8th inning and got the victory. I didn’t get nationally interviewed but I was quite pleased with the performance.”

I was surprised to see, when I printed a piece of stationery for Nye,
that he amended my notation of “9/9/67 – Struck Out 10 Giants in Complete Game Win.” Nye added:

“and accounted for the winning run.”

Seeing that Nye was born across the bay in Oakland, and that he sparkled in Candlestick Park, it’s easy to imagine him tipping his cap to friends and family.

(Hurray for, offering details!)

Nye’s early success was shared with receiver Randy Hundley. The pitcher painted a full portrait of the catcher.

“Randy Hundley was the only catcher at the time who caught with one hand and he had a shotgun for an arm. He instilled confidence in the young pitching staff and was our team leader.

Randy had a habit of getting in a ‘rut’ (some call it a rhythm) and occasionally appeared to be thinking about his last at-bat rather than the 2-2 pitch he was suggesting to Aaron or Mays.”

Nye’s career was curtailed by a rotator cuff injury in 1970. His time on the mound was more than a job, it seems:

“My life in baseball was too short to be sure. I truly loved playing the game. As I got older, I started playing Men’s Senior Baseball and continued that until I was about 53 years old. My team won two ‘World Series’ during those years. I finally had to stop because the joints no longer wanted to comply with my wishes — they hurt too much.

Tom – thanks for asking. It’s always fun reminiscing.

Rich Nye”

Tomorrow: Hall of Fame announcer Dave Van Horne traces the origin of his trademark call!

Jack Brickhouse Sought Cub Rich Nye’s Wit

This 1989 Pacific set
gave Brickhouse his due!

The best baseball letters I receive redefine eras. The most memorable missives are more than punchlines, answering trivia questions such as “Toughest hitter? Hank Aaron.”

Pitcher Rich Nye, flashing superb storytelling skills, shared one much-needed reminder for me.
Cubs announcer Jack Brickhouse was a real journalist.

By the 1970s, when I was watching the Cubs via WGN-TV syndicated broadcasts, Brickhouse seemed quite low-key for me. Later, compared to Harry Caray, my memory of Brickhouse turned into a cold bowl of oatmeal. The difference? Brickhouse loved the Cubs, too. However, he kept on being a reporter (instead of pure cheerleader).

Brickhouse started on radio in 1934. He started at WGN in 1940. Brickhouse did EVERYTHING — not just baseball. He is a Radio Hall of Famer. Likewise, he appreciated that Nye brought an unusual perspective to the game.

Nye wrote:

“In 1967, the Cubs had the typical mix of old and young. Along with myself there was Ken Holtzman, Joe Niekro, Bill Stoneman, Gary Ross, Alec Distaso, Frank Reberger and maybe a couple of others who were vying for a place on the team. We were led by crusty old Leo Durocher, who had little regard for a college-educated player.

We were, however, well accepted by the media and especially Jack Brickhouse took a shine to me and had me on his show several times. He wanted to talk about my days at Cal in the 1960s when the student body was in an uproar. He knew he would get an articulate interview.”

I learned about DOCTOR Nye’s second career in this fascinating 2008 Sun-Times blog post.

Tomorrow: Nye recalls batterymate Randy Hundley and the feeling of winning on national television.  

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