Nellie loved the holiday season. Thanksgiving was probably his favorite; he always savored a good turkey dinner with all the trimmings! On Christmas mornings he would make pancakes with fresh sliced apples and cinnamon for his daughters, even long after they stopped believing in Santa Claus.
One of Nellie's most treasured memories of childhood was seeing a train set under the Christmas tree when he was four years old. He said that was the greatest thing Santa ever brought his family.
Sadly, Nellie will not be with us this holiday season. But his words, wisdom, memories, and laughter live on in his book. If you are still looking for that special gift for all the baseball fans on your shopping list, consider purchasing a copy of Happiness is Like a Cur Dog. Proceeds will go to support the newly established Nellie King Fund to create scholarships for underprivileged children, student-athletes, and sports journalism majors. Our mission is to create a lasting legacy in Nellie King's honor.
Here is an excerpt from the introductory chapter of Nellie's best-selling memoir:
This is the story of the wonderful journey that took me from the Milton S. Hershey Industrial School for Boys to the minor leagues, and then to a major league career as a relief pitcher for the Pirates. As such, it is a story about finding happiness, or rather, letting happiness find me.
Psychologist Abraham Maslow has a term for those moments in life when your senses are completely open to everything that is going on around you. He calls them “peak experiences.” Your mind is completely at ease and immersed in the “now,” while your senses are soaking up everything in vivid detail. How wonderful it is—and how rare—in a life in which our enthusiasm and energy is all too often sapped by our day-to-day obligations, worries about the future, and fears rooted in past experiences. When love and satisfaction with one’s work come together, peak experiences can happen.
I enjoyed my first peak experience in the summer of 1948. I was pitching for the New Iberia, Louisiana Pelicans in the Class “D” Evangeline League, and enjoying a truly successful season, winning 20 games and pitching 284 innings. I woke up early one morning after another winning game with a feeling of peace and serenity that was new to me. The mugginess of the bayou had not yet engulfed the day. A cooling breeze was lightly stirring the white lace curtains of the window near my bed, wafting in the sweet smells of the flowers opening outside. The pleasing songs of birds only accentuated the quiet.
I lay there for several minutes, completely enthralled with the sensation of profound contentment. “This is how life should be lived,” I thought. But the more I tried to hold on to the experience, the faster it ebbed away, until it finally evaporated. Yet, it was such a wonderful moment that I can relive it in my mind to this day. I've enjoyed other peak experiences in baseball, when moments are simply allowed to just happen and unfold. As a pitcher, I was deeply involved in “the now,” with no anxiety.
In my years of association with Pittsburgh Pirates’ baseball from 1948 to 1975, I’ve seen the organization go through the whole gamut of human emotions. Pittsburgh is no stranger to hardship, and the Pirates have known their years “in the cellar.” Like the city itself, the team emerged from the darkness and soot of the 1950s to enjoy two shining decades that Bob Prince called “the halcyon days” of Pirates baseball.
Surely, it was a peak experience for the entire western Pennsylvania region to be a part of Bill Mazeroski’s dramatic home run at Forbes Field, clinching the 1960 World Series. Pittsburghers also enjoyed the honor of witnessing the excellence of legendary players like Roberto Clemente and Willie Stargell. How lucky I was to have played and broadcast during these halcyon days of Pirates’ baseball!
In this book I attempt to capture an era in baseball that is rapidly fading. During my brief major league career I played against such Hall of Fame greats as Stan Musial, Ernie Banks, Hank Aaron, Eddie Matthews, Jackie Robinson, Frank Robinson, Ken Boyer, Roy Campanella, Duke Snider, Pee Wee Reese, Don Newcombe, Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, Warren Spahn, Robin Roberts, and many others. As a broadcaster I was privileged to view and describe the excellence of Roberto Clemente, Bill Mazeroski, Willie Stargell, Bob Gibson, Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, Tony Perez, Lou Brock, and many more.
Committing these memories to paper has been personally satisfying. I hope you will enjoy reading them as much as I did living them.