Hamilton working to honor Joe Nuxhall with historical marker, name on park

Supporters are raising money to install a historical marker for Hamilton native Joe Nuxhall, who was the youngest player in major league history when he pitched for the Cincinnati Reds at age 15 years, 11 months, and later was a longtime Reds radio announcer.

Joanne Wallisch on Monday told Hamilton’s 17Strong board, which works to empower the city’s 17 neighborhoods, that during World War II, the Reds visited industrial towns like Hamilton, scouring the region for potential players while most able-bodied men were serving in the military.

“They came to the North End ballfields to see Joe Nuxhall’s father (Orville Nuxhall, a right-handed pitcher), and he said to them, ‘I’m a good player, but you ought to see my kid,’” Wallisch said. “And that’s how Joe Nuxhall got onto the Reds, and into the major leagues, at age 15.”

The city has already agreed that that fields at L.J. Smith Park, where he was discovered, will be renamed for Nuxhall, Wallisch said.

“I’m not sure exactly when that will transpire, but on June 15, which is the Hamilton night at the Reds, during the day we plan to have an event at the park, and have the kids play (baseball),” she said. “The Hamilton Joes have already offered to come and help.”

Tim Spoonster, who for years has wanted to have an event celebrating Nuxhall, said, “We hope to announce that it had been named, I think, ‘Joe Nuxhall Fields at L.J. Smith Park,’” with pickup baseball games for families that day.

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The plan is for people to “come out to the dedication, have a hot dog, some chips and a drink (all donated), play some ball,” Spoonster said. “We’ve had some donations already.”

After the afternoon events that day, which will include a Healthy Hamilton resource fair that teaches people about healthy lifestyles, “in the evening, people that would like to get on the bus and have a huge Hamilton section at the Reds’ game, everyone’s welcome,” Wallisch said.

A 2018 17Strong event: Hamilton neighbors meet on High-Main Bridge for unique event

Nuxhall, who pitched in one game during 1944 and went on to become a two-time All-Star after returning to the Reds in 1952 after several years in the minor leagues, had a career record of 135-117.

In other 17Strong news:

  • The organization is looking for volunteers to help clean up and landscape properties on May 18 and a date that has not yet been determined in June. On May 18, the work will happen with homes in the city's East End, with minor repairs, trash pickup, brush removal and debris removal at homes in the area of Crawford Woods Elementary School. The June work will happen on properties on McKinley Ave. in the Armondale neighborhood. Those wishing to volunteer can do so at www.loveyourblock.com or by calling 513-785-7355.

From now on, 17Strong will have its full board meetings on the first Mondays of even-numbered months. For the rest of the year, that includes April, June, August, October and December. During the other months, board members and others have been asked to hold meetings of the organization’s standing committees.

  • The board at some point this year is planning to take a tour of the city’s 17 neighborhoods, to better familiarize them with each area.
  • The next meeting will happen at 6 p.m. April 1 at the Lane Public Library, 300 N. 3rd St., in Hamilton.
  • Explore ANOTHER 17Strong project: Mother who lost 4 kids in 1988 fire thankful for memorial for them

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