Donzetta Nuxhall, 91, grasped the golf putter and stroked the ball as hundreds watched at Saturday’s grand opening of a special needs mini-golf course at her late husband’s loving legacy, Joe Nuxhall’s Miracle Fields.
Urged on by Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame broadcaster Marty Brennaman, Nuxhall’s putt rolled smoothly along the curved, side-banking as the first, ceremonial stroke taken at the new course.
The ball traveled under the beloved Nuxhall’s famous saying printed on side wall of hole number one: “Until next time, this is the Ol Left-hander rounding 3rd & heading for home.”
And then it dropped straight in for a hole-in-one as the crowd exploded in cheers.
It was the loudest of many joyous moments during the opening ceremony for the 18-hole mini-golf course, which is the latest addition to the Fairfield facility’s specially designed baseball fields that allow children with physical and other challenges to play the game.
Joe Nuxhall’s son, Kim, who has spearheaded the new addition, was amazed at the turnout and his mother’s golf shot.
“That’s a moment I’ll never forget,” Kim Nuxhall said.
Kim Nuxhall and Brennaman spoke emotionally to the crowd of more than 300, which included Cincinnati Reds Manager David Bell and Brennaman’s successor behind the Reds’ microphone, Tommy Thrall.
Nuxhall said the golf course and baseball fields were and will remain a part of his father’s legacy of helping the needy. The course wouldn’t have happened, he said, without the generosity of dozens of companies and individuals who donated much of the money, materials and labor during construction.
“Congratulations to all of you for making yet another dream happen for our all stars,” said Nuxhall.
Brennaman, in one of his first public appearances since retiring from announcing last month, told the crowd of his “on-going admiration of the Nuxhall family.”
“It’s a labor of love and its something that will be here for all time to help folks who use these great facilities,” said Brennaman. “I’m awed by the wonderful things that have happened out here to make this community of Fairfield, Ohio even nicer than it already was.”
Joe Nuxhall, who died in November 2007, was a longtime champion for the disabled and envisioned having a complex such as the Miracle League Field.
Nuxhall, who was born in Butler County’s city of Hamilton and lived most of his life in nearby Fairfield, became the youngest person to play in a Major League Baseball game when he pitched two-thirds of an inning on June 10, 1944 against the St. Louis Cardinals.
The eventual Reds Hall of Fame pitcher and announcer was 15 years, 10 months and 12 days old.
Nuxhall later partnered with Brennaman and became a beloved duo for legions of radio listeners following the Reds.
His son watched Saturday as the crowd walked around the course, which is decorated with exotic statues of animals, real and imagined, as well as statue of his father.
“You see the smiles on the kids faces right now, that’s what it is all about. All the hard work and all the time in the heat (during construction) and it all makes it worthwhile when you see them out here having fun,” Kim Nuxhall said.
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