On and off the field, Garver was one of the all-time greats


By Steve Stout - [email protected]



While visiting the late Champaign County native Harvey Haddix at his home in Springfield in 1991, he asked me if I’d ever met Ney, Ohio, native Ned Garver.

I hadn’t, but I had always wanted to because I knew Garver – like Haddix – was one of the great major league pitchers of the 1950s.

Haddix first met Garver in 1950, when the two pitched against each other in a fall exhibition game in Defiance, Ohio.

Garver at the time was a star pitcher for the St. Louis Browns of the American League while Haddix was a star pitcher for the Columbus Red Birds of the International League.

“Ned told me after the game that I was good enough to be in the big leagues, and that gave me the confidence I needed to know that I could make it,” said Haddix.

Garver, who died Sunday night at the age of 91, was that kind of a person.

I called him soon after Haddix mentioned him to me, and I was very fortunate to be a close friend of Garver’s for over 25 years.

Garver loved visiting Champaign County.

He signed free autographs for hundreds of admirers at the Champaign County Fair in August of 2003, and he and former major leaguer Rich Rollins held a free baseball forum at Urbana University a month later.

Garver came back to Urbana in 2004 to hold a free pitching clinic at the Champaign Family YMCA.

Garver and I started the Ned Garver Legends Golf Classic – which benefited local charities – at Mitchell Hills Club in Springfield in 2012.

That tournament is now hosted by Pro Football Hall of Famer Dick LeBeau.

Garver was a great pitcher, as his 129 major league wins would attest.

But even more important than that, he was a great person.

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Trivia Time – Marilynn Smith and Kathy Whitworth were the first female golfers to be featured in a TV commercial.

This week’s question – Ned Garver began his professional baseball career in 1944 with which minor league team?

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By Steve Stout

[email protected]

Reach Steve Stout at 652-1331 (ext. 1776) or on Twitter @udcstout

Reach Steve Stout at 652-1331 (ext. 1776) or on Twitter @udcstout