SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Throughout the 2017 season, all 16 Midwest League teams and umpires will honor the late President Emeritus George H. Spelius, who passed away in September of 2016, 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) throughout the 2017 campaign. Spelius served as President Emeritus and Director of Midwest League Umpire Development until his passing.
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 club is now known as the Beloit Snappers, which 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, and with the 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 the 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., one being 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.
Current President of the Midwest League Dick Nussbaum remarked: "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. 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 2 children, Teddy and Nicholas, who loved their grandfather deeply.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.