SOUTH BEND – Throughout the 2017 season, the TinCaps and all 16 Midwest League teams, plus umpires, will honor the late Midwest League President, George H. Spelius, who passed away last September, with a sleeve patch. The black patch bearing the initials G.H.S in white text will be sewn on the cuff of the left sleeve of all regular team uniforms (right sleeve of umpire uniforms) and worn throughout the 2017 campaign. Spelius served as President Emeritus and Director of Midwest League Umpire Development until his passing.
“George was an amazing man and a tremendous leader of the Midwest League,” TinCaps President Mike Nutter said. “He cared deeply about everyone in the league: the fans, the staffs, the players, and the umpires. This term is thrown around frequently but we have truly lost a legend with the passing of George Spelius. To be able to honor George with a patch on our uniforms makes all of us in the Midwest league so proud. He was a great friend and we miss him dearly and this is a fitting tribute to one of the best baseball men I ever met.”
George H. Spelius, born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, graduated from Waukesha (WI) High School in 1952. He earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Business from Carroll College (Waukesha, WI) in 1956. While attending Carroll College, he played football, baseball, and tennis. Football was his best sport. In 1955, despite being only 5-foot-6 ½ and weighing 215 pounds, he earned Division III All-American Honorable Mention as a nose guard and middle linebacker.
While serving in the U.S. Army in Tokyo-Yokohama, Japan from February 1957 to September 1958, he was a catcher on the Army team, Camp Zama Ramblers. His team won the Far East Championship in the summer of 1958.
Upon release from active duty, Spelius joined Amity Leather and served as a salesman in both New York and the Midwest. In 1962, George married Nancy Panos, whose father founded Beloit Floral in 1916. Spelius joined the family business in 1963.
George had a love affair with all sports his entire life. Prior to his affiliation with the MWL, Spelius was a president of the Beloit Boys Baseball Association and one of the original founders of the Beloit Brewers in 1982. That Midwest League club is now known as the Beloit Snappers and continues to operate as a community-owned franchise. Spelius was elected President of the Midwest League in 1987, after serving as the League’s Vice President in 1986. He remained Midwest League President for 27 years, retiring after the 2014 season. He was an avid booster of high school sports and performed color commentary for high school football and basketball games on local radio. In June 2014, George was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Beloit Historical Society’s Elliott-Perring Sports Hall of Fame.
Spelius served on several committees of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, Inc., including the NA/MLB Rules and Policy Review Committee, which produced an on-field behavior policy that dramatically reduced the number of physical confrontations at the Minor League level. In 1997 and 2010 he was honored by Minor League Baseball as the recipient of the Warren Giles Award for outstanding service as a League President.
“I thank all of our teams for putting so much effort in to making sure we honor George and all he did for our League and Baseball fans everywhere,” said Dick Nussbaum, current Midwest League President. “This year in every inning of every game by seeing the initials GHS on the uniforms of our players, we will keep him in our minds and hearts while we enjoy the game he so loved.”
George is survived by his wife, Nancy, and his daughter, Mary Foster, and son, H. George, along with their spouses Marty and Mindy. H. George and Mindy have two children, Teddy and Nicholas, who loved their grandfather deeply.
This year the TinCaps also will wear a patch on the right sleeve of their jerseys to commemorate the 25th season of Minor League Baseball in Fort Wayne.
The South Bend Cubs will adorn the memorial patch on its sleeves.