A local legend on the diamonds will be making his way into the Saskatchewan Baseball Hall of Fame in August.
Lorne Nielsen, who was born in just outside of Scott, and resides in Wilkie will be inducted in the 2018 class on August 18, 2018. When Nielsen was young, his favourite sport was baseball and he would hang a tire from the rafters of his old red barn and spend hours hitting it with a bat. To this day, he still prepares to play Twilite baseball by hitting a ball on a tether.
Nielsen told battlefordsNOW what his initial reactions were when he found out he was selected into the 2018 class.
“It’s a very special thing to happen,” he said. “The first thing that you think about is a lot of people along the way that you’ve shared your baseball career with. You have very fond memories of coaches and players and even the kids you’ve coached along the way.”
The first highlight of Nielsen’s career was being on the 1972 Provincial Champions in Unity in Mosquito, from there he began playing in Wilkie in both of the Peewee and Bantam divisions in 1973. At 16, he went to Unity to play with the Cardinals in the Saskatchewan Major Baseball League.
After all those memories on the field, Nielsen said it's a struggle to choose just one moment as his most memorable, but he knew what the best summer of his life was.
“I remember playing junior ball with the North Battleford junior beavers with (Coach) Bob Colliar and one summer,” he said. “We called that the best summer of our lives (in 1980) where we took a trip out to Montreal, and we went to the summer games and hosting provincials and on to Western Canada. That was probably the best summer of my life, but I don’t want to target just a moment, because there are just so many things.”
After playing two years in North Battleford, he returned to Wilkie to play with the Brewers. At the age of 20, he took on the role of coaching the team as well.
After a few rough years, the team won the North Saskatchewan River Baseball League Championship and hosted the Western Canadian tournament. After a couple more years, he transitioned into coaching youth baseball. He was also instrumental in upgrading the ball park that allowed Wilkie to host annual tournaments and provincials.
Nielsen impacted so many lives in the game of baseball, and when asked about who he wanted to thank in his career, there was a long list of people.
“Number one would be my parents; I have a lot of thanks towards them and all the coaches along the way,” he said. “There’s a long list of them. The fondest memories I have are with the players, there’s a lot of people along the way.”
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