Bill Nicholson (baseball)

William Beck "Swish" Nicholson (December 11, 1914 – March 8, 1996) was a right fielder in Major League Baseball who played for the Philadelphia Athletics (1936), Chicago Cubs (1939–1948) and Philadelphia Phillies (1949–1953). A native of Chestertown, Maryland, where he attended Washington College, he batted left-handed and threw right-handed.

In 1944, Nicholson received an intentional walk with the bases loaded. He is listed as one of only six players in major league history to do it. The others are Abner Dalrymple (1881), Nap Lajoie (1901), Del Bissonette (1928), Barry Bonds (1998) and Josh Hamilton (2008).

Bill Nicholson
Bill Nicholson
Born: December 11, 1914
Chestertown, Maryland
Died: March 8, 1996 (aged 81)
Chestertown, Maryland
Batted: Left Threw: Right
MLB debut
June 13, 1936, for the Philadelphia Athletics
Last MLB appearance
September 19, 1953, for the Philadelphia Phillies
MLB statistics
Batting average.268
Home runs235
Runs batted in948
Career highlights and awards


In a 16-year career, Nicholson posted a .268 batting average with 235 home runs and 948 RBI in 1677 games.

At 6 feet tall and 205 pounds, he was an imposing figure at the plate. While awaiting each pitch, he would loosen up with determined practice swings, ending each with his bat aimed at the pitcher, and holding that pose for several seconds. With each practice swing, the fans would chant "Swish."

Nicknamed "Swish" because of his mighty swing, which often missed the ball, Nicholson twice led the National League in home runs and RBI. He played briefly in the American League for the Philadelphia Athletics in 1936, then spent two years in the minors before joining the Chicago Cubs in 1939.

Nicholson became a regular with the Cubs in 1940. His most productive season came in 1943, when he hit .309 with a league-leading 29 home runs and 128 RBI. He finished 3rd in the NL MVP Award vote behind Stan Musial and Walker Cooper.

In 1944, Nicholson slipped to .287, but he again led the NL in home runs (33), RBI (122) and runs (116). In the same season, after hitting four consecutive homers in a July 23 doubleheader at the Polo Grounds, he came to bat with the bases loaded in the eighth inning of the second game, and was intentionally walked. Obviously, that forced in a run, but the Cubs couldn't score again and the Giants won the game, 12–10. This time, he lost the MVP honors by one vote to Marty Marion.

Although Nicholson helped the Cubs to the 1945 pennant, his failing eyesight resulted in a slip in production. He hit only .243 with 13 home runs and 88 RBI in the regular season, and batted just .214 with eight RBI in Chicago's seven-game loss to the Detroit Tigers in the World Series.

In 1949, Nicholson was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies, where he became a part-time player and frequent pinch-hitter. The next season, after he became weak and lost weight, it was disclosed that Nicholson was diabetic. He was unable to play in the World Series with his "Whiz Kids" teammates against the Yankees. Well respected as one of the toughest men to double up, Nicholson hit into double plays only once every 90.7 at-bats. He finished his career in 1953 with eight pinch homers.

Bill Nicholson died in Chestertown, Maryland, at age of 81.


  • 5-time All-Star (1940–41, 1943–45)
  • Twice led NL in home runs (1943–44)
  • Twice led NL in RBI (1943–44)
  • Led NL in runs (1944)
  • One of five NL right fielders to register 11 total chances in a game (1945). The others are Harry Schafer (1877), Greasy Neale (1920), Casey Stengel (1920) and Bake McBride (1978). The major league record is held by Tony Armas, who handled 12 chances in an AL game (1982).

See also

External links

Bill Nicholson

Bill Nicholson may refer to:

Bill Nicholson (baseball) (1914–1996), American Major League Baseball player

Bill Nicholson (Canadian administrator), Canadian farmer and administrator

Bill Nicholson (cricketer) (1909-2001), Scottish cricketer

Bill Nicholson (footballer) (1919–2004), English football player and manager

William "Bill" Nicholson (born 1937), American film and TV sound engineer

Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame

The Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame, located in the Hawthorne Race Course, in Stickney/Cicero, near Chicago, Illinois, honors sports greats associated with the Chicago metropolitan area. It was founded in 1979 as a trailer owned by the Olympia Brewing Company parked at Soldier Field in Chicago. The Chicago Park District took over the exhibits in 1983. From 1988 the exhibits were displayed in Mike Ditka's restaurant until the restaurant closed in 1991. The Hall of Fame moved to the Maryville Academy in Des Plaines in 1996 and has operated under the guidance of Father John P. Smyth since that time. As of 2008, it was operating at Hawthorne.

Directors include Smyth, former Chicago Park District Superintendent Ed Kelly, DePaul University Athletic Director Jean Lenti-Ponsetto, and former Chicago Bears tight end Emery Moorehead.

The honorees include high-school athletes, such as Babe Baranowski who quarterbacked the 1937 Leo Catholic High School team in the Prep Bowl football game in Soldier Field, viewed by a record 120,000 spectators, high-school coaches, college athletes from as far away as the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign and the University of Notre Dame, as well as professional and Olympic athletes associated with Chicago. Their sports include everything from baseball, basketball, football, and hockey to bowling, fishing, golf, and horse racing. Two special awards, the Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Ray Meyer Coach of the Year Award may honor non-Chicagoans.

Eastern Shore of Maryland

The Eastern Shore of Maryland is a part of the U.S. state of Maryland that lies predominantly on the east side of the Chesapeake Bay and consists of nine counties. As of the 2010 census, its population was 449,226, with just under 8 percent of Marylanders living in the region. The term "Eastern Shore" distinguishes a territorial part of the state of Maryland from the Western Shore of Maryland, land west of the Chesapeake Bay.

List of athletes from Maryland N – Z

Maryland has a long history concerning sports and a number of major and minor professional sport figures have hailed from the state. Maryland enjoys considerable historical repute for the talented sports players of its past, including Cal Ripken Jr, Michael Phelps and Babe Ruth.

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