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Franklin County pays tribute to Nellie Fox

November 30, 1999|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. ? Franklin County honored its "favorite son" Saturday with a tribute to baseball legend Jacob Nelson "Nellie" Fox.

Dozens of people came to the Chambersburg Heritage Center to celebrate the life and career of Nellie Fox as part of the "I Remember Nellie" tribute.

Janet Pollard, Franklin County's tourism director, organized the event.

"I thought we needed to pay tribute to Nellie while people who knew him as a player and as a friend could still make it to an event like this," she said.

Wearing her husband's famous number on her shirt, Joanne Fox circulated through the heritage center on Saturday, talking to guests and old friends about her husband.

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"He was a humble man who never forgot his home," she said. "He could hardly wait until the end of the season when he could come home."

Born and raised in St. Thomas, Pa., Nellie Fox began his career as a baseball player in 1944.

Joanne Fox tells the story of how Nellie's mother wrote to one of the most influential men in baseball to get her son a tryout.

"He wrote back and told her they were having a tryout in Frederick, Maryland," she said. "Nellie tried out and was signed to play Class A ball in Lancaster (Pa.)."

Joanne Fox said Nellie was born to play baseball and that she could not have imagined him doing anything else.

Many of Nellie's fans, both young and old, shared her sentiment.

Rob Carbaugh of Shippensburg, Pa., who "politicked" with the Nellie Fox Society to get Nellie inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, said he was inspired by Nellie's determination.

"Nellie was told he was too small to play, and yet he did it and played with all his heart," Carbaugh said. "He was the force behind the 'Go-Go White Sox' that took them to the World Series in 1959."

"You don't find very many people around here who do what he did," said Jslate Atkinson, 10.

While some people remember Nellie Fox for his hustle on the field and his batting average, others remember him for his heart.

Looking at old photos and news stories about her father and his career, Tracy Fox said she remembered little of the man who played for the Chicago White Sox, but rather remembered her father.

"To me, he was just my daddy," she said.

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