Baseball great Nelson dies
Wednesday, November 1, 2006 12:17 AM EST
PDT Sports Reports
Local baseball great and Portsmouth native Rocky Nelson died Tuesday at the age of 81 after a prolonged illness.
A member of the 1960 World Champion Pittsburgh Pirates, Nelson hit a home run in the first inning of game seven. According to BaseballLibrary.com, Nelson, first name Glenn, is inducted into the International League, the Ohio Baseball and the Canadian Baseball halls of fame.
I have so many memories, said Nelson's widow, Alberta. We have had so many together, and were married 59 years. Lived all over the United States, and we really saw a good part of the United States when we traveled. We even traveled after he retired to see the places we just drove by the first time.
In nine major league seasons, Nelson played in 620 games, according to baseball-reference.com. He won a three-time International League Most Valuable Player, in 1953 and 1955 for the Montreal Royals and in 1958 for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
In 1947, he married Alberta at home plate when he played for the Lynchburg (Va.) Cardinals. She said there were over 7,000 fans in attendance at the ceremony. Whenever they went, though, Portsmouth was always on their minds.
He is well-loved, said Alberta Nelson. He had a lot of friends and we were very fortunate. We always loved Portsmouth, and we came back every chance that we got.
Another family member, nephew Mike Woten, viewed Nelson as a role model.
He was someone I held in reverance, said Woten. I was very proud of him. A lot of people in the area here know who he is. He never met a stranger.
Woten said Nelson got his nickname Rocky for his ability to talk, noting he liked to debate all of the players. He added that Nelson was on a first-name basis with many celebrities, including Bing Crosby and Bob Hope, and played with Jackie Robinson.
The one thing Woten will always remember, though, is his uncle's love for the city.
He was always wanting to do things, said Woten, a sports writer the Sun Herald in Biloxi, Miss. He would love to do things around Portsmouth, and he always waited for me to come up there and visit.
The Nelsons were also members of the Central Church of Christ, located at 1211 Grandview Avenue, for over 40 years.