by Frank Hyde
June 30, 1953
Fox, 1944 Falcon, Traveled Up Baseball Trail The Hard Way
"The day of the little man is gone, but Nellie fox is an exception," Manager Paul Richards of the Chicago White Sox said recently when discussing the pepper-pot second sacker who held down an outfield berth for the 1944 Jamestown Falcons.
The expression, when footnoting some big league achievement, is that Fox started his pro career with the Falcons. He didn't. Nellie played 24 games at first base for the Lancaster Red Roses of the Inter-State League.
Owner Harry Bisgeier of the Falcons wanted a man who could play the outfield and be converted into an infielder, if needed. Bisgeier, always a lover of a fighting ballplayer, settled on Fox.
"This kid will go to the Majors someday because he will just naturally fight his way up there," Bisgeier told newsmen. How right the veteran baseball man who now lives in Buffalo, was is typified at Chicago where Nellie is the darling of Windy City fans, the most hard-bitten and cynical of all major loop followers.
Fox hit .325 for Lancaster and .304 for Jamestown, appearing in 56 games for Ollie Carnegie's Falks.
From Jamestown, the trail became winding and sometimes doubtful for the St. Thomas, PA resident who was born on Christmas Day, 1927.
He hopped back to Lancaster in 1945, hit .314, and was moved up to the big show with the Philadelphia A's, but went into military service without seeing action. Following his return in 1947, Fox followed the same route: Lancaster, .281 for 55 games, and up to the A's that autumn, appearing in seven games and failing to get a hit.
Fox headed west for 1948 playing 136 games for Lincoln of the Western League, his second full year in organized baseball with one club. The A's called him back up in 1948, using him in three games, but kept him for the '49 season when he batted .255 in 88 contests before being traded to Chicago for Joe Tipton in 1950.
Today, Fox, who stands only 5-10 and weighs 155, is an established major leaguer and will come in for his share of attention tomorrow when area fans start balloting for Jamestown's first Hall of Fame. Nellie hit .313 in 1951 and fielded .981. Last year he batted .296 and was a .985 man at second base, leading all keystoners who had been in 100 or more games.
Fox is currently waging a close battle with Billy Goodman of the Boston Red Sox in another election - for second base on the American League All-Star team, which will meet the National Leaguers in the annual classic at Cincinnati, July 14.
Candidates for the Hall of Fame are broken down into two divisions - the old-times ball players and the modern era performers. The old-time panel consists of Ray Caldwell, Hugh Bedient and Swat Erickson, all nearby Jamestown residents. Later day performers are Sal Maglie, Irv Noren and Fox.
Fans will ballot for one of each on special forms that will be published in The Post-Journal starting tomorrow.