Sharon Everett doesn’t have a lot of memories of her great-grandfather, but one sticks out.
“Every night before he went to bed, he would crumble saltine crackers into buttermilk and drink it,” Everett recalled.
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The sight turned Everett’s stomach and those of her siblings when they were growing up in Kansas City.
“It was his routine,” she said. “He did it every night, even when he was in the major leagues.”
And who could argue with what Charles “Kid” Nichols did? As a major-league pitcher during 1890-1906, Nichols had a career record of 361-208, with 48 shutouts and an incomprehensible 532 complete games.
But for Everett, Nichols wasn’t the Hall of Famer. He was simply “grandpa.”
“He was the nicest, sweetest person,” Everett said. “I wish I could have known him more.”
Everett and her family are interested in seeing Nichols’ legacy continue, so they are having some of his old memorabilia auctioned this weekend at Fenway Park in Boston.
The jewel of the collection is a presentational baseball bat: in essence a trophy Nichols won while playing for the Blue Avenue Baseball Club in the 1880s, not long after he moved to Kansas City from Wisconsin.
Hunt Auctions, which is handling the auction of the so-called Nichols Collection, described the bat thusly:
“As referenced by Kansas City newspapers of the period, the Blue Ave Club played against the Wyandotte Reds several times during the time between June and August of 1886. Included in these articles was mention of a win in Bonner Springs, Kansas. The offered baseball bat is in fact a presentational trophy bat from that very championship tournament played at Bonner Springs by the Blue Ave club with Kid Nichols.”
Nichols pitched for a few teams in Kansas City before eventually signing with the Boston Bean Eaters. He later pitched for the St. Louis Cardinals and Philadelphia Phillies, and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1949.
“He and Cy Young were good, good friends,” said Everett, who lives in San Diego but visits her sister in Kansas City frequently. “We found letters where Cy Young would come through Kansas City and would stop and see him. They played against each other, and (Young) is the one who fought for his (Hall of Fame) induction.
“He wrote letters that said it was a shame that he was not inducted. He was instrumental in getting grandpa inducted into the Hall of Fame.”
The collection of Nichols’ memorabilia, which represents only a portion of the items that Everett and her family have, can be found at HuntAuctions.com. Included are letters from former baseball commissioner Ford Frick, photographs of Nichols and ex-Cub Joe Tinker, and more — including the bat, which is valued as high as $60,000.
“We want it to be protected and saved,” Everett said. “We’re hoping that someone who really likes that era and knows about it will get it and take care of it.”