"Hall of Fame" Capsules
Jeff Leise, Omaha (player)
Jeff, a Creighton Prep grad played his semi-pro ball for the Beatrice Bruins, lived in Coach Steinkamp's basement, and later, briefly in the Omaha Over 30 League. He came to be known as one of the greatest players in University of Nebraska history with an amazing list of accomplishments. He finished his career second in All-Time hits, 305, runs scored, 210, and triples,20. Jeff cranked 27 homers, stole 63/69 bases and had a .346 career average. He was the team Captain, a First Team All-American, Multi All-Conference, Multi-All Regional, and a Multi-All Tournament selection. He had prominent roles in the Huskers' first trips to the CWS in 2001 and 2002 including a key extra inning hit to put the game away against Rice in 2001. On top of all these achievements, he received almost every Academic Award available to a collegiate athlete, including the Verizon-CoSIDA All-American of the Year all sports in 2002- 2003. Moreover, he was the Big 12's Male Sportsman of the Year in 2003. After his junior year he was drafted in the 7th round by the Angels, but loyalty to the Huskers won out and he turned down a 6-figure signing bonus knowing full well it would deleverage his bargaining power after his senior year. It did just that, but he's not in a food line. His intelligence, personality, people skills and multi-talented communication skills more than overcompensated for that situation. "Welcome to The Hall, Jeff Leise". Was there ever a doubt?
Eddie Brown, Ohiowa (player)
Eddie was born in Milligan in 1891, but raised in Ohiowa. Heconsidered this Filmore county village his Nebraska home until he moved to California in 1936.He began his semi-pro career playing Town Team ball in the Fillmore County area, progressed to Pro Ball with Superior in The NSL in 1913 when he hit.426, on to Fairbury, then Army ball after he enlisted in the Air Corps in 1917. He progressed to the high minors after, his honorable discharge in 1919, and was called up to the Majors by the NY Giants in 1920 thru 1921when they were World Champs. He played for Indianapolis in 1922-24 in the American Association, as their leading hitter, finishing the season with the Brooklyn Robins Dodgers in '24 and 1925 hitting .308 and .306 in those two years. In their infinite wisdom the Robins decided to trade Brown to the Boston Braves for the 1926 season...BAD MOVE! All Eddie did in '26 was hit.328. lead the NL in hits with 201, bash 8 triples, 31 doubles, 84 RBI's and according to 1 source, receive 15 votes for MVP on a lowly team. In 651 plate appearances he struck out 20 not a typo times. In his MLB career, he struck out but 109 times in 3127 plate appearances, 1 K PER 28.7 AB'S. He finished his career in the Minors at Omaha and Fairbury and passed in 1956. **Thanks to: Monty Nielsen, Kansas State Registrar Emeritus, for his alerting us to Eddie Brown and providing much of the information for this Article.
Ken Vergith, Fremont (player)
Ken grew up in Fremont, and played in all levels of Youth baseball, including Legion ball in the years 1971-72-73. His outstanding Legion career was highlighted in 1972 when he was dominant in pitching Fremont to the State Tourney at Rosenblatt Stadium. This included wins over Norfolk and Columbus in the District and Area Tourneys, and a win over Grand Island in the State Tourney...all in a 10-day period! He was rewarded with a Kearney State Scholarship and was Rookie of The Year in 1973. He turned down being drafted by Cincinnati and had a great year for the Antelopes in 1974. He was All-District 11 pitching the "Lopes" to the District Championship the last day with a Herculean effort...13 2/3 innings, 211 pitches, 2 wins, 6 hits, 2 walks and 22 K's. 1975 was just as spectacular. He was All Area 3 NAIA, All District 11, and 1975 FIRST TEAM NAIA ALL-AMERICAN. Ken did not rest on his previous laurels in 1976. He was First Team All-Conference Great Plains Athletic Conference and became the only pitcher in Kearney State College history to record a win over the Nebraska Huskers and was the only KSC pitcher in history with 3 NO-NO's. He spent summers playing Semi-Pro Ball in Nebraska, primarily for the following teams: Osceola, Fremont, North Bend, Kearney Stars, and the Lincoln Pirates. Ken pitched the Kearney Stars to the State Semi-Pro Championship in 1976 in Genoa and was named First Team All-State Nebraska Semi-Pro.
Jeff Christy, Lincoln (player)
Jeff starred at Lincoln Southeast in High School and in Legion baseball. He was All-State and All-Super State his senior year in 2002 as a .450 hitting catcher. Jeff was drafted in the 2002 MLB Draft but opted for an education. He attended Barton County Community College, Kansas in 2003-2004 earning All- Conference honors in 2003 and First team All-Jayhawk honors in 2004. That year he hit a team leading .400, had an OBP of .460, banged out 74 hits, mashed 27 doubles, and 49 RBI's. Despite these gaudy offensive statistics, Jeff was known best for his defensive prowess as a catcher. His fielding pct. was .997 and he threw out 17 baserunners. During the summers he played 2 years for the Beatrice Bruins, and Coach Steinkamp lists him as one of the two best defensive catchers he ever coached along with Joe Siwi, HOF. Jeff continued his career at NU in 2005-2006 where he was a key factor in the Huskers reaching their third ever appearance in the CWS at Rosenblatt. He caught a school record 64 games, drove in many clutch runs hitting nearly .300 with men in scoring position, and threw out 46% of baserunners. In 2006 Jeff finished his great career hitting .284 with 8 homers and 32 RBI's. He was drafted again, this time by the Twins, and rose to Triple AAA. He was one pitch or one key injury from the Bigs, unfortunately behind a lock for the MLB HOF, Joe Mauer. He finished his pro career with the Wichita Wingnuts hitting .289 with 39 RBI's.
Chris Gradoville, Omaha (player)
Chris, an Omaha native was part of Coach Ed Servais' first Creighton team in 2004. It's no coincidence that his presence coincided with Coach Servais's highest win totals during the 2004-2007 seasons, 48 and 45 respectively. Chris played in 187 Bluejay contests, and started 153 of them, primarily as a catcher. He also served time as a DH and a first baseman to conserve energy from many of the 4-game series played by the Bluejays. His amazing career finished with a .327 batting average with 54 extra base hits, 29 doubles, 3 triples, 22 dingers, and 136 RBI's. He knew how to get runners home with 14 sac flies. His all-around play contributed heavily to Creighton's NCAA Regional appearances in 2005 and 2007. During his sophomore season, despite the grueling duties of catching, Chris hit .403, third highest on the Bluejay career list in single season history. His junior season produced many honors: NCBWA National Player-of-the-Week; Louisville Slugger National Player- of -the-Week; and MVC Honors as well. The week? Well, three consecutive games with 2 homers;.500 Batting Average; 1.380 Slug Pct.; and 18 RBI's. In 2006 He was Hon. Mention All-MVC, and in 2007, 2nd Team All-MVC and a finalist for the Johnny Bench Award. Chris was drafted in the 24th round by the Rangers. In 4 Minor League seasons and 784 AB's, he hit .276 with 10 homers and 80 RBI's. He reached AAA, caught 3 innings in an MLB exhibition game and hit a double.
Charlie Colon, Lincoln (player)
There is an impressive collection of baseball blood lines running through Charlie's family, and his is at the top of the chart. A list of his accomplishments in and for the game we love so much can best be listed by category:
High School: Lincoln Northeast: 1985 All-City First Team, Honorable Mention All-State. 1986 All-City First Team, All-City Captain, First Team Super State. !985-86-87 American Legion All-StarTeam. Elected to Northeast Athletic Hall of Fame.
College, Huskers: 1989-90 Academic First Team All-Big 8 both years. 1990 Phillips 66Classroom Champion. 1990 Big 8 Pitcher of the Week.
Transferred to Nebraska Wesleyan, 1991: 1991 First Team NIAC, NIAC Conference Player of the Year.
Semi-pro 1988-2009: Played Semi- Pro ball from 1988-2009. 1991-92-93-94-95. Nebraska Semi-Pro All-State team. 1988 Founder of Lincoln Polecats Semi-Pro team. Head Coach Lincoln Polecats, 1999-2009.
Coaching and Service to baseball, 1997-present: Nebraska Wesleyan, 1997-2001 asst,2005-2007 asst. Lincoln East 2019 asst. 2021- present: Lincoln Christian Varsity asst. baseball coach. President, Blackhawks Youth Baseball,2014-2016. It's time for your picture to grace our Hall, Charlie. Congratulations!
Alex Gordon, Lincoln (player)
Alex is considered by many to be one of the top 5 Nebraska born players in Nebraska baseball history. A Lincoln SE grad, he began his Semi-Pro career shortly after graduation in 2002 and 2003, playing for the Beatrice Bruins. His career with the Huskers was nothing short of spectacular. Alex was the number 2 pick in the MLB draft after his junior season, the highest pick in the history of the Big 12 Conference. He was a Golden Spikes Award Winner, Multi- National Player of the Year winner, Multi-First Team All-American and a Multi-All-Conference honoree just for starters. He had a career .355 average and, after only 3 years, still finished in the top 5 All- Time in homers, total bases, RBI's and doubles. He was top 10 in 6 other categories. In 2005, he was a major factor in the Huskers earning their 3rd trip to the CWS. Alex enjoyed a marvelous career with the KC Royals and became one of the most beloved players in franchise history. He was inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in 2020. "Gordo's 14-year career with the Royals produced many enviable statistics and awards. Transitioning from 3B to LF he won 8 Golden-Glove awards and 2 Platinum-Glove Awards the best defensive player any position. He ranks in the Top 10 in multiple Royal offensive categories and was selected as a 3-time American League All-Star. Alex helped propel the Royals to 2 World Series in which he had clutch hits in both. The second one, a titanic homer that tied the game, led to a Royal win, and eventually, the Championship. Alex will long be remembered as being a credit to the game. Always the gentleman, his hustle, competitiveness, willingness to play hurt, being helpful and encouraging to teammates, relentless hard work, and humility were unique in today's environment. His loyalty and generosity to his school, professional team, and the fans were/are exceptional.