Bill Nicholson dies one-time Cubs star

He led NL in RBIs, homers two years straight in '40s

March 09, 1996|By FROM STAFF REPORTS

Bill "Swish" Nicholson, 81, who led the National League in both home runs and RBIs in consecutive seasons, died in his hometown of Chestertown early yesterday morning.

Playing for the Chicago Cubs, Nicholson had 128 RBIs and 29 homers in 1943 and 122 RBIs and 33 home runs the following year. He scored a league-high 116 runs in 1944 and was beaten out for Most Valuable Player honors by Marty Marion by one vote. The following season, he played on the last Cubs team to win the pennant.

Nicholson, an outfielder, entered the major leagues in 1936 with the Philadelphia Athletics, played for the Cubs from 1939 to 1948 and spent the seasons from 1949 to 1953 with the Philadelphia Phillies.

He retired with eight pinch-hit home runs and as one of the game's toughest men to double up -- he hit into double plays only once every 90.7 at-bats.

Nicholson hit four consecutive home runs in a July 23, 1944, doubleheader at the Polo Grounds.

He led the NL in strikeouts in 1947 with 83.

"Everyone in Chestertown knew him. They all loved Mr. Bill," said his stepdaughter, Emily Joyner.

Besides Emily Joyner, he is survived by four other stepdaughters: Priscilla Curlett-Whiting, Julia Curlett-Stap, Caroline Curlett-Whithers and Charlotte Curlett-Gonzalez, and a stepson, John Martin Curlett; three granddaughters and two step grandchildren.

The funeral will be Tuesday at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Kent.

Pub Date: 3/09/96

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