Arthur Vance – Hardy


Athlete–Along the southern border of Nebraska in Webster and Nuckolls Counties once existed Cowles High School and Hardy High School. One exposed to this early 20th century secondary education was a late blooming great baseball pitcher, Dazzy Vance. Arm troubles hampered his rise until his early thirties when he started in 1922 with the major league Brooklyn Dodgers. In 1924 he was named the most valuable player in the National League, winning 28 games as a pitcher. Later he was also a member of the 1934 World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals “Gashouse Gang.” Vance told media covering major league baseball about his nickname. “It had nothing to do with ‘dazzling speed’ as most fans believe. Back in Nebraska where I grew up, I knew a cowboy who, when he saw a horse, a gun or a dog that he liked, would say ‘Ain’t that a daisy,’ only he would pronounce ‘daisy’ as ‘dazzy.’ I got to saying, ‘Ain’t that a dazzy,’ and before I was 11 years old, the nickname was tacked on me.” Elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame in 1955, this talented Nebraskan deserved not to be forgotten.

 

Vance led the National League in strikeouts seven year in a row. He led the league in shutouts four times, in earned run average three times and won 20 or more games three different years.

One of the best pitchers in baseball during the 1920s, Vance toiled for poor Brooklyn teams much of his career. Yet he still won 197 games, and the first NL MVP award.
Played For  New York Yankees (1915, 1918), Pittsburgh Pirates (1915), Brooklyn Dodgers (1922-1932, 1935), St. Louis Cardinals (1933-1934), Cincinnati Reds (1935)

Post-Season

1934 World Series

Honors

MVP 1924

Stats–Career stats from baseball-reference.com

Feats

Won the Triple Crown for pitching in 1924 with 28 wins, a 2.16 ERA, and 262 strikeouts.

Best Season, 1924

Vance didn’t win his first game in the majors until after his 31st birthday – yet he went on to 197 wins, a no-hitter, and an MVP award. Vance won the initial NL MVP Award in 1924, leading the NL with 28 victories, 305 complete games, 262 strikeouts, and a 2.16 ERA. He outpolled Rogers Hornsby, who that year had set a major league record with a .424 batting average, because one voter failed to place the latter on the ballot. Vance used the award to negotiate a highly publicized three-year contract worth $47,500 from Brooklyn owner Charles Ebbets.

Vance began his professional career in 1912, but struggled with his control  and a sore arm until breaking through in the majors in 1922.

In 1922, Vance went 18-12, led the National League with 134 strikeouts and tied for the league lead with five shutouts.

1924 would see him second to no one: He compiled a 28-6 record, winning 15 in a row in one stretch, posted a 2.16 ERA and struck out an impressive 262 batters, earning pitching’s triple crown and the first MVP Award given by the National League. His 262 strikeouts were the most by an NL pitcher since Christy Mathewson fanned 267 in 1903 and would remain unsurpassed until Sandy Koufax struck out 269 in 1961.  No pitcher in history can claim such strikeout dominance. In fact, he was so dominant that he edged St. Louis second baseman Rogers Hornsby for the Most Valuable Player award, despite Hornsby’s .424 batting average-a 20th century record.

After three stellar seasons in the big leagues, Vance held out for more money and finally signed a three-year deal worth $47,500 in mid-March of 1925.  He rewarded Brooklyn by pacing the NL with 22 victories, 221 strikeouts and four shutouts in 1925. He struck out a career-high 17 batters against the St. Louis Cardinals on July 20 and no-hit the Philadelphia Phillies on September 13.

1928 would prove to be Vance’s last great all-around season and would usher in one last hurrah for his strikeout dominance. He went 22-10 with a league-leading 2.09 ERA, four shutouts and 200 strikeouts.

His run was coming to an end but Vance was earning the highest paycheck in baseball among pitchers, pocketing $20,000 in 1928 and $25,000 in 1929 when he won 14 games and struck out only 126 batters. It would be the first time he hadn’t won the strikeout crown in eight years.

He won his third ERA title in 1930, posting a 2.61 mark, which was an incredible 2.36 runs lower than the league average and more than a run lower than runner-up Carl Hubbell, who fashioned a 3.71 ERA for the New York Giants.

Vance made his only World Series appearance with the “Gashouse Gang” Cardinals in 1934, pitching alongside Dizzy and Daffy Dean. The 43-year-old threw an inning and a third of shutout ball for the Cardinals in Game 4-three of the four outs he recorded were strikeouts-to earn a World Series ring.

After brief stints with St. Louis and Cincinnati, Vance ended his career back in Brooklyn, to finish with a record of 197-140. He posted a 3.24 career ERA, struck out 2,045 batters in 2,967 innings and, amazingly, walked only 840 batters. 

He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1955. He died of a heart attack on February 16, 1961, two weeks shy of his 70th birthday.

Roger Berney – Wolbach

OFFICIAL

Roger Berney brought his whistle to high school sporting events for more than 30 years, officiating football, volleyball and wrestling. He got his start in wrestling, the sport he competed in at Midland College, working more than 20 state tournaments as well as the 1980 NAIA National Championship. The Wolbach graduate also officiated volleyball for more than 25 years and high school and junior high football for more than 15 years, wrapping up his career when his son became a high school football player. Considered consistent, reliable and fair, Berney was named the Nebraska Scholastic Wrestling Coaches Association Official of the Year in 2001, the year in which he retired after working  in his fifth decade.

Jerry Mathers – Lincoln

Contributor. One of the founders of the Nebraska High School Sports Hall of Fame, Jerry Mathers spent his life teaching, coaching and serving as a totally-consumed-in-it historian of high school sports. He authored three books on history and records for Nebraska high school sports and was the first historian of the Nebraska High School Sports Hall of Fame. His co-authored “Pages of History”, which provided a page for every high school in existence, small or large, between 1854-1994. A Mathers motto: “There’s still forgotten records out there in many small Nebraska towns and I want them”. For nearly thirty years he taught and/or coached at Lyons, Platteview, Winnebago and McCool Junction.

 

 

Jerry D. Mathers, Lincoln resident, 67, died Thursday, May 8, 2003, in Lincoln.He was born March 5, 1936 in Wynot.

He taught school for 26 years at Springfield-Platteview, Lyons, Winnebago and McCool Junction public schools.

He served as a board member for the Nebraska High School Sports Hall of Fame and was inducted into the Nebraska

High School Sports Hall of Fame in 1997. He received a heart transplant in 1990 and was grateful for 13 more years of life.

The father of six children, Mathers was born in Wynot, Neb., in 1936 and grew up in Hartington. He lived for a time in California.

Memorials may be directed to the Nebraska High School Sports Hall of Fame or to the family.

 

Louise Pound – Lincoln UNL Latin School

Contributor.  Louise Pound was a pioneer among women athletes in the state of Nebraska, enjoying much success during her high school age years although never participating in structured high school athletics. Tennis and golf were her top sports, but she gained acclaim in figure skating, skiing, cycling, basketball, swimming, riding and bowling. She was captain of the University of Nebraska basketball team. She was Lincoln’s best woman golfer for more than 20 years and in 1916 was the first state women’s golf champion. In tennis, many of her championships came against all comers, including men. At one time, she was the top-ranked amateur tennis player in the country. During her 50 years as a professor at the University of Nebraska, she was a staunch advocate of increased opportunities in athletics for females. Deceased.

 

Willard Schmidt – Swanton

Athlete.  Despite his height – 6 feet, 6 inches – Willard Schmidt did not start playing basketball until his junior year when he joined the team coached by Hall of Famer Joe Sukovaty. His junior year, Schmidt led his team to a Class L state basketball championship. Schmidt scored 43 of the 107 points the team tallied in four games. His senior year (1928), Schmidt, by then an inch taller, led Swanton to a 22-1 record and a Class F title. Swanton outscored its opponents 109-46, and Schmidt had 45 of the 109. Schmidt went on to play for Creighton University from 1931 to 1934 and was a three-time All-Missouri Valley Conference selection. Creighton was the MVC champion the 1931-1932 season and runner-up the next two seasons. Schmidt played for the AAU national championship team from McPherson, Kan., in 1936 and was picked for the 1936 Olympic team that won the gold medal in Berlin – the first American team to win an Olympic gold medal.

 

Allison Weston – Papillion-LaVista

Allison Weston 2007Athlete. The captain of the 2000 Olympic volleyball team in Sydney, Australia, Weston was a multi-sport standout and a 1992 graduate of Papillion-LaVista High School. The 1992 Omaha World-Herald and Lincoln Journal Star Athlete of the Year, Weston was all-state in volleyball and basketball her junior and senior seasons, and she was named the Gatorade Circle of Champions Nebraska Basketball Player of the Year. She also qualified for the state track meet and was an all-state soccer player. She played professional volleyball in Italy.  She is arguably one of the best collegiate volleyball players in NCAA history. Nebraska’s first three-time, first-team AVCA All-American, Weston capped an impressive career by winning the 1995 national title and sharing Player-of-the-Year honors with Cary Wendell of Stanford. The former captain of the U.S. National Team, Weston still holds school records for kills in a four-game match (37) and career kills (1,778). She also ranks in the career top 10 in nearly every statistical category and holds three of the top-10 single-match kill performances. A two-time Academic All-American, Weston was also a two-time Big Eight Player of the Year.