Exactly 75 years and five days after Joe Nuxhall pitched his first major-league game for the Cincinnati Reds — becoming the youngest to ever play in the top professional league — people will dedicate the Hamilton field where the team discovered him on Saturday.
From 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., the “Hamilton Joe” Nuxhall Day Celebration Committee will be joined at L.J. Smith Park on Nuxhall Boulevard by the Hamilton Joes baseball team, city police and firefighters, plus others, for the field dedication and fun activities that encourage young people and adults alike to be more active outdoors.
There will be pickup baseball and kickball games, contests, and an effort to build pride in Hamilton’s North End neighborhood.
The free event will feature free food, and family events.
The event is free, but the celebration committee hopes people will donate as much as $3,500 on Saturday and other times before July 1, so the group can apply to the state agency called Ohio History Connection for permission to erect a historical marker at the park by the same time next year, marking the spot.
Nuxhall grew up on Vine Street, said committee chairman Tim Spoonster. “So he and his Dad, the day he was discovered, they probably walked out the back door, down over the hill, and came up with his Dad’s buddies to play some industrial-league ball,” Spoonster said.
“Of course, the war was going on, and surprisingly, 85 percent of the major leaguers had gone off to fight in the armed forces, so there weren’t many ballplayers available, and that’s why they came to Hamilton, to take a look at his Dad,” he said.
Spoonster said Joe’s father explained he had a job and a family, but, “You ought to take a look at my boy over there.”
“Joe was in seventh grade, he was 6-2, and about 195, and he could throw 85-90 mph,” Spoonster said. “They were pretty excited.”
After a successful career with the Reds, Nuxhall became a beloved radio broadcaster for the team.
At the Reds game that same day, “Hamilton Night will be Saturday night at 7:10, when the Reds take on the Rangers,” he said. It’s also Barry Larkin Bobblehead Night, where fans can receive those trinkets.
To attend the game with the Hamilton contingent, people can buy tickets at groupmatics.events/event/Cityhamilton, or by calling the team’s ticket office at 513-765-7963. Part of each ticket will go toward the historical market.
Hamilton’s police and fire departments will attend with some of their vehicles, and the Healthy Hamilton initiative will encourage people to make healthy decisions so they can rely less on pain medications.
People there will be encouraging healthy habits, how to get moving in your life. US Bank will have representatives there to give advice on how to have healthy finances.
Children will receive free tennis balls, because, “Back when I was a kid, a tennis ball was the ultimate video game,” Spoonster said.
He hopes the activities honoring Nuxhall will encourage adults of the North End to get involved and “give the kids a place to come and play, hopefully draw some attention that area, and we can get youth sports to be a regular thing,” he said. “It’s been maybe 30 years since anything formal was out there.”
“The 15th is the closest date that we could arrange for Hamilton Night to be scheduled, which is annually held around the date of Joe’s first appearance in the majors on June 10, 1944,” he said.
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