William "Swish" Nicholson Oral History

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Record 8/16
Copyright HSKC and Tyler Campbell
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Date 5/4/83
Abstract William Beck "Swish" Nicholson (1914-1996)

William "Swish" Nicholson was born in 1914 at his parents' farm in Melitota, a crossroads near Fairlee. "It was a regular farm in those days.,,a little of everything. We had dairy cattle and sold milk and we had asparagus patch about six or seven acres and we grew a lot of tomatoes in those days. The main grain crop was wheat at that time and com….Back then if you got forty-five [bushels an acre] you thought you had a big crop." Even in the 1910s, many farms had only basic equipment. "Farming practices were a lot different. When I was a boy I was a right good size before I ever saw any tractor. We finally had a little Ford tractor with an iron wheel and [before that] all we had was horses and mules."

Nicholson worked on the farm as a child, but his afternoons playing softball behind the Fairlee School led to playing on the Chestertown High School baseball team and the Fairlee town team. "Saturday afternoon we'd try to rustle nine men to play…it was mostly young fellows. Just farm boys only…We'd play Worton and Kennedyville…. We played in a lot of pasture fields those days. The grass was down but they always had that you'd slide into second base and it might not be second base!" Later, Nicholson played in a men's league in Chestertown.

Eventually, Washington College recruited him to play sports. "I was a good sized kid and they wanted me to play football and Coach Kibler worked it out, I got one of those merit scholarships up there…. I had never seen but one football game before I played in a college football game up here to Washington College." After a couple of years, Coach Tom Kibler worked to revive the baseball team at the college. The Chesapeake Bay league was an active amateur league in Kent, Cecil and Queen Anne's Counties, where Nicholson and others honed their skills. The games were popular, and generally free to the public. "we had to have balls and I guess they bought, the town bought the suits and they must have passed a hat or something."

A scout from the Philadelphia Athletics discovered Nicholson his junior year at Washington College and offered him a contract. Nicholson finished out his senior year, then went on to play semi-pro and then professional baseball for the Philadelphia Athletics. He later played for the Chicago Cubs and the Philadelphia Phillies. In 1945, he played for the Cubs in the World Series. Nicholson was named to four All-Star teams during his career. In 1953, he retired to Kent County and became a farmer in Broad Neck.

Transcribed. 3 original cassettes.
Interview date 05/12/1983
Media Compact Disc
Narrator Nicholson, William "Swish"
Object ID 2671
Object Name Disc, Compact
Title William "Swish" Nicholson Oral History
COPYRIGHT INFORMATION ~ Oral histories copyright Historical Society of Kent County. Images copyright Tyler Campbell. Duplication or publication only with permission.

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Last modified on: September 07, 2012