2018 inductees

Award recipients include from right: Tracy (granddaughter of Floyd Theirolf), Terrell Dreamer, Steve Russell, Karen Svehla (wife of John Svehla), Larry O'Brien, Jan Wall, Tom Cotton (brother of Bill Cotton), Ryan Smith.

There were seven new members inducted into the Nebraska Baseball Hall of Fame Sunday night at the Holiday Inn in Beatrice.

Bill Cotton, Terrell Dreamer, Albert "Pricky" Parr, Steve Russell, Floyd Theirolf, John Vehla and Jan Wall will now forever have their names listed with all the great baseball players of Nebraska's past.

A distinguished Service award was also given out to Larry O'Brien of Omaha.

Steve Russell was the first go get inducted Sunday night. Russell played at Omaha Westside and was a Wayne State graduate and both hit and pitched.

After hurting his arm, he played first base in the All-American League for 20 years and was considered the league's best power hitter. If not for his injury, it was predicted that he could make a living pitching on the mound.

He played for many Dodge county teams as well as MINK teams and traveled all over Nebraska and Iowa. After retiring at age 40 and has had coaching stints at Millard South, Omaha Central, Bellevue College and the Nebraska Sluggers.

After receiving his induction, Russell talked about all the friends he has made in baseball and told several stories of his playing days.

"Very few baseball players get the opportunity to make the big money in baseball, but you make great friends," Russell said. "This is an awesome honor and I'll never forget this day."

Terrell Dreamer was the next to be inducted. Dreamer, a native of Elmwood, was nicknamed "Tree" and it's said he could throw a baseball by any hitter.

After high school, he was convinced to play at Pershing College in Beatrice. Not long after, he was signed by the Washington Senators.

After a short stay in the professional ranks, he came back to Nebraska and Kansas where he dominated the semi pro ranks with numerous teams in Kansas as well as Hickman, Beatrice and Omaha.

The 6-5 pitcher was a mainstay on Garland's state championship team and followed that stint with the Lincoln Runza and Schlitz squads.

He compiled 115 wins during his career and had a .782 winning percentage and had a strikeout ration of more than one per inning.

Dreamer didn't get into how he got his nickname, but assured all in attendance he would tell them the story after the banquet.

He finished his speech talking about his brother Chip, who passed away in 2008. The two were close in age and always played ball together.

"I wouldn't be standing here tonight without the help and support of my brother," Dreamer said as he held back tears. "Thank you Chip."

Albert "Pricky" Parr was the next to be inducted into the Nebraska Baseball Hall of Fame.

Parr passed away in 1977, but his son Roger Parr was on hand to accept the honor for his father.

At age 18, Parr was the starting pitcher for Dodge and at age 19, he pitched an entire 18 inning game against Rock Creek, striking out 17. Many in the crowd left the game early to do chores, but returned to see the game's conclusion.

Parr played in the Dodge County League and the Pioneer Night League and played with many semi pro teams, including Dodge, Fremont, Norfolk, Oakland, Pender, Scribner, West Point and others.

In 1949, he pitched his Dodge squad to another league championship and had a record of 20-2 that year. after his playing days, he continued coaching in Scribner through 1967.

"This is truly a great honor," said Parr's son Roger. "If dad was here today, he'd be tickled, he'd be grateful and he'd be honored. And if he were still here today, he'd still be asking for that outside corner."

Floyd Thierolf was next up to be inducted. He passed away in 1987, but his granddaughter was on hand to accept the award. His 96-year old wife Patricia was also in the crowd.

Thierwolf came from Cedar Creek and made a name for himself as a hard throwing right hander who would often pitch more than one game a day for different teams.

The Fremont Nighthawks was his home team and people would drive miles around to see him pitch. One evening, a St. Louis scout asked the 17-year old if he wanted to pitch at Daytona Beach, which is what he did for St. Louis' farm team.

He pitched in a AAA/Major League all star game and got Stan Musial to pop out.

After a stint in the army, he rejoined the Cards and pitched for Rochester in Triple A ball. In 1947, he returned to Nebraska and pitched for teams around Omaha and in the Pioneer League.

At the banquet, Therolf's granddaughter Tracy put on a hat that her grandfather always wore and portrayed to the crowd his life story.

"My grandfather Floyd was not only a great baseball player, but a great citizen, a hard worker, a loving husband, father and grandpa," Tracy said. "He had a great sense of humor and was loved and admired by many. I'm humbled and honored and on behalf of my family thank you so much for this great honor."

Bill Cotton was next to be inducted. Cotton passed away in 2008, so his brother Tom Cotton was on hand to accept the honor.

Cotton excelled in football and baseball and despite being pursued by Bob Davaney to play football, he chose the baseball route.

He played for numerous semi pro teams in the state, including the Gulf Oilers.

He was eventually selected in the fourth round of the Major League Draft, but he elected to attend Arizona State after being offered scholarships from many schools and eared All American status.

He guided his team to the national championship in Omaha was selected to the all tournament team. He played for the Valentine Hearts in the Basin League and the Boulder Collegians. He then signed to play professional and spent six years in the minor leagues.

He would hit for power and average and could throw out runners from his knees at the catcher position.

His brother Tom said they were the only family to have a backstop in the backyard of their home in McCook growing up.

"He would be honored to be put in this great group of people," Tom said. "If Bill were standing here today, he'd be as emotional as I am today."

John Svehla was next to be inducted into the hall of fame. Svehla passed away in 2017, but learned of his selection into the hall of fame before he passed. His wife Karen was on hand to accept the honor.

Svehla was the 1975 MVP for the state champion York baseball team and at Nebraska Wesleyan, he earned all-conference and all-district honors three times and as an All-American as a senior.

From 1979-1997, he played for many semi pro squads including York, Lincoln/Waverly, Osceola, Lincoln Runza, Seward and numerous Omaha squads.

He was an all-state selection three times at three different positions and was a finalist for the State Player of the Year three times. Twice he won an award which was presented by the Nebraska Baseball Digest.

His wife Karen said John was so excited when he found out he was selected to the hall of fame, but he didn't show it in public.

"He was so excited, but I was the one telling everybody," Karen said. "He so wanted to share the honor with his dad, who died a few days before he did. I know he is smiling down on us while he's playing pro baseball up in heaven."

Jan Wall was the last player to be inducted into the hall of fame Sunday night.

During his career at Lincoln Northeast, Wall struck out 121 batters and had an ERA of 0.88. During the summer, he pitched for the Lincoln Optimist and threw a no-hitter against Hastings, the No. 1 team in the state at the time. He was also named the Nebraska Athlete of the Year.

Wall turned down professional offers and chose to pitch for Nebraska. One of his highlights was winning two games in one day against Oklahoma.

He starred for Sturgis in the Basing League and pitched in the national semi pro tournament in Wichita.

A serious accident slowed him down, but the major league scouts still wanted him. He signed with the New York Mets, but could not play due to medical reasons.

During his acceptance speech, Wall turned his attention to the younger kids in the room.

"Competition and learning from sports as got this country to where it is today," Wall said. "Sports has done my life wonders because it keeps you on the positive side of life. So I'm telling you all to get into sports."

A distinguished service award was also given out to Larry O'Brien of Omaha Sunday night. He was an Omaha Rummel graduate who excelled both as a player and a coach.

He attended Indian Hills Community College where he played for hall of fame coach Pat Dougherty. He became a pitcher, eventually throwing 100 mph.

He was drafted No. 2 overall by the White Sox in the winter draft and No. 30 by the Expos in the summer draft and No. 39 by the Reds.

He signed with the Reds and played with Pete Rose, Joe Morgan and Johnny Bench.

after his playing career, he scouted for the White Sox, Braves, Reds and Astros. and his love of baseball led him to coach at Iowa Western for several years.

From 1990 to 200, he coached Roncalli's Legion program and led them to five state tourneys, winning two state championships.

A special award was also given to Ryan Smith, a former bat boy for the Beatrice Bruins who has done a tour in Afghanistan.


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