Gordon Tolbert Nell
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 5' 11", Weight 185 lb.
- Born August 17, 1907 in Hollis, OK USA
- Died May 22, 1986 in Borger, TX USA
Gordon Nell was a power-hitting outfielder who spent 12 seasons in the minor leagues. He spent much of his career in the high-flying West Texas-New Mexico League, hitting over 40 home runs four times en route to 359 career dingers. He averaged over a RBI per game for his career. He won five minor league home run titles.
Nell began his career as a 22-year-old in 1930, playing for the Joplin Miners and Muskogee Chiefs of the Western Association. In 115 games, he hit .351 with 27 home runs, 29 doubles, 107 runs and 172 hits. He led the league in home runs, outpacing second place finisher Jo-Jo Moore by five, and finished third in total bases (296).
He spent most of 1931 with the Chiefs, hitting .304 with 38 home runs and 109 RBI in 132 games with them. He also tacked on nine games with the American Association's Minneapolis Millers, hitting .231 with one home run - bringing his season totals to 141 games, 39 home runs and a .302 batting average. He led the Western Association in home runs (and was third in total bases ), with the runner-up a distant 9 moonshots behind.
1932 and 1933 were shortened seasons for Nell. In the former, he appeared in only 92 games, split between the Chiefs and Hutchinson Wheat Shockers of the WA (77 G, 8 HR, .286 BA) and the Montgomery Capitals of the Southeastern League (15 games, 0 HR, .224 BA), hitting a combined .277 with eight home runs in 92 games. In 1933, he played for the Western League's Des Moines Demons (67 G, 14 HR, .285 BA), the Texas League's Oklahoma City Indians (25 G, 1 HR, .188 BA) and the Dixie League's Waco Cubs/Pine Bluff Judges (2 G, 0 HR, .300 BA), hitting .263 with 15 home runs in 94 games altogether.
He did not play in the minor leagues from 1934 through 1938. In 1939, he found a career resurgence with the Pampa Oilers of the West Texas-New Mexico League, hitting .392 with 44 home runs, 60 doubles, 207 hits, 415 total bases, 112 extra-base hits and a .786 slugging percentage in 135 games. He paced the extremely high-offense league in hits, doubles (16 more than anyone else), home runs (just one ahead of the runner-up), runs (152), RBI (189), slugging percentage and total bases and tied Sammy Hale for the league lead in batting average to finish up his Triple Crown.
He followed that up with another incredible season in 1940, hitting .389 with 40 home runs, 48 doubles, 15 triples, 206 hits, 404 total bases and a .764 slugging percentage in 133 games for the Borger Gassers. He led the league in home runs and RBI (175), slugging percentage and total bases, finished second in hits (behind Bill Scopetone) and batting average (trailing Edwin Schweda) and tied for second in doubles (with Scopetone) and triples (with Schweda). He also guided the team to the league title after taking over the managerial reins.
1941 was a relatively down year for Nell, as he played in only 121 games and hit .316 with 28 home runs. Nevertheless, the Borger Gasser led the WTNML in home runs (by 2) for his fifth and final home run crown and he finished third in slugging percentage (.594).
He did not play professionally in 1942, 1943 or 1945, and appeared in only seven games for the Southern Association's Little Rock Travelers in 1944, hitting .269 with no home runs.
In 1946, however, the 38-year-old made an impressive return, again suiting up for the Gassers of the WTNML, with whom he would spend the rest of his career. In 136 games, he batted .335/.380/.660 with 43 home runs and 47 doubles, leading the league in RBI (175), doubles and total bases, while finishing second in at-bats (567), home runs (five behind a fellow slugging legend of the high-scoring low minors of the era, Joe Bauman) and slugging percentage (42 points shy of Buck Fausett).
He kept powering away in 1947, hitting .344 with a career-high 49 home runs and .710 slugging percentage in 124 games. He drove in 173 runs. The league was especially offensive that season, however, and he only finished third in home runs, eight behind the league leader (Bill Serena and 3 behind runner-up Bob Crues, yet another star of the high-octane low minors of Texas and New Mexico in the 1940s and 1950s).
In 1948, he hit .357 with 37 home runs, 48 doubles, 164 RBI, 133 runs and a .674 slugging percentage in 123 games, finishing third in the circuit in home runs (a distant 32 behind Crues but only one behind runner-up Virgil Richardson). The 41-year-old wrapped up his career in 1949, hitting .319 with 29 home runs, 133 RBI and 39 doubles in 132 games.
Following his professional career, he caught and managed an amateur/semi-professional team called the Dumas Dusters of Dumas, TX.
Overall, Nell hit .335 with 359 home runs, 403 doubles, 67 triples, 1,803 hits, 3,417 total bases, 1,416 RBI, 1,183 runs and a .635 slugging percentage in 1,353 games.
He also served as manager of the Borger club in 1940, 1941 and 1947, leading the club to a league championship victory in 1940.