Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Remembering a Forgotten Ball Player-Dolan Nichols

Photo of Dolan Nichols
Dolan Nichols

It's funny how we remember small episodes from our childhood in surprising detail. Yesterday, I was sitting at Anaheim Stadium watching a day game between the Angels and the Boston Red Sox. For some reason, I recalled sitting in another ball park with a childhood friend when I was a kid. It was at Gilmore Field in Hollywood back in the years before major league baseball came to California. In those days in the 1950s, we had Triple A ball-the Pacific Coast League, and we had two teams, the LA Angels, who played in South Central LA in Wrigley Field. Yes. Wrigley Field.  The second team was the Hollywood Stars who played near the old Farmer's Market. (The Angels were a farm team of the Cubs and the owner, William Wrigley, had built the newer version of Wrigley Field in the 1920s to house the team. It was surprisingly reminiscent of the one in Chicago. The Stars belonged to the Pirates.)

Anyway, my friend and I were at a Stars game at Gilmore Field and we were able to wander down to the front row by the visiting teams' bullpen along the left field line. Some relief pitchers were seated there as the game progressed. As I recalled it, the San Diego Padres (PCL version) were playing.

Anyway, we engaged a couple of the pitchers in conversation and one in particular was happy to chat with a couple of kids and they waited for the call to get into the game and spat chewing tobacco onto the field. I don't recall what we talked about-surely it was baseball. It seemed we talked for several innings. At one point, we asked the relief pitcher his name, and for some strange reason, I never forgot it. His name was Dolan Nichols. I also recalled that after this day, he pitched briefly for the Cubs. He didn't last long and quickly dropped out of the majors.

So just now I decided to Google him and see what came up. Here is what I found on Dolan Nichols. He was born 1930 in Mississippi and died in 1989 in the same state. He pitched for the Cubs in 1958 with an 0-4 record, and sure enough, in 1957 he was with the San Diego Padres then a Cleveland Indians affiliate, the team with which he originally signed. So it was in 1957 that I met and chatted with him at Gilmore Field when I was 12. Aside for his 1958 stint with the Cubs, he pitched almost a decade in the minors.

Sorry to hear you are no longer with us, Mr Nichols. Rest in peace knowing that you are not forgotten.


elwood jp suggins said...

Gary--I am not the sports fan you are, but much the same thing happened with me and a couple of friends and Solly Hemus, probably in about 1953 or something like that. The Cards somehow came down to Ft. Smith, Ark., to play the local Twins. I remember he bantered back and forth with us, etc., and was a really nice guy. I also recall his chewing tobacco (Mail Pouch, I believe) in his back pocket which he went to with some frequency. Somehow that has stuck with me all these years.

Gary Fouse said...

Yes, I remember Solly Hemus.

Gary Fouse said...


Without looking it up, I associate Hemus with the Cardinals, Reds and Phillies. If I recall correctly, Hemus was mentioned prominently in one of Jim Brosnan's classic baseball books, Ball Four and the Long Season. I think hemus might have been manager of the Cardinals then when Brosna was with them.

Gary Fouse said...

Pretty close. He was never with the Reds. He was player-manager with the Cards in 1958. You should try to get a hold of Brosnan's books. Great reads and if I remember correctly, Solly was roasted pretty good.