Virgil Nipper: Father, Coach, Mentor, and Friend

My dad was a catcher and third baseman while attending North High School where he was a teammate of future Nashville Police Chief Joe Casey.  I have heard him say often that with eight family members at home, he would not have had supper were it not for Mrs. Casey.

After football, basketball, or baseball practice, there was a good hot shower waiting for him, too, another thing he could not get at home. Dad loved playing all three sports, but especially loved baseball and received varsity letters in 1945, 1946, and 1947.

He was selected to the All-Nashville Interscholastic League (NIL) baseball team each year by both the Nashville Banner and Tennessean newspapers.

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Playing for the Werthan Bag team in the first year of the Larry Gilbert League, he was selected to the inaugural All Star team in 1945. Later on, after playing in the City League for North Nashville Merchants in 1947, he signed with the Boston Braves and was sent to Owensboro in the KITTY League.

In 1948 Dad re-signed with the Braves and was sent to their farm training camp in Myrtle Beach, before playing only for a week with El Dorado, Arkansas in the Cotton States League.  Returning home, he signed up to play in the City League again, this time for Colonial Coffee and in subsequent seasons for Shyer Jewelers, Burk Sporting Goods, and Cook’s Beer.

He spent his last two years of amateur baseball playing for Nashville Bridge Company, and was selected to the City League All Star team as a catcher in 1952 and 1953.

As a member of the Downtown Nashville Optimist Club, Dad was one of the members instrumental in building of a Little League park on the Cumberland River near the entrance to Shelby Park.

In 1961 Dad took a job with his father-in-law’s sporting goods sales agency, Jack Waddell & Sons, and began selling for New Era Cap Company which supplied caps to major and minor league teams, colleges, and amateur teams (and still does).  That relationship continued until his retirement.

He managed Youth, Inc. teams in the Gilbert League in the late 1960s and Coursey’s BBQ in the Connie Mack League in the early 1970s. My brother Jim and I both played for our father. When we graduated from high school and were off to college, Dad’s competitive spirit allowed him to continue to play church league softball until suffering an Achilles heel injury at the age of 55 while trying to stretch a single into a double.

Dad was elected to the Nashville Old Timers Amateur Baseball Hall of Fame in 2010.Image

Our baseball relationship has continued at Nashville Sounds games, on the sofa in front of the television watching a major league game, and at grandchildren and great-grandchildren’s T-ball games. During those times together, the baseball stories and experiences seem to glow from this wonderful mentor and friend.

At 85, Dad and the memories are still going strong.

1 Comment

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One response to “Virgil Nipper: Father, Coach, Mentor, and Friend

  1. Jay Winkler

    Skip- awesome memories, tx for sharing. Now I understand your love of baseball and selling New Era caps. God Bless. Jay

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