Davey Nelson lights up when he talks about stealing home eight times in his career, including second, third and home in the same inning.
He still cringes when he talks about a collision with an outfielder that left Nelson with a fractured jaw and an injured ankle that cost the former Milwaukee Brewers coach a majority of the 1974 and 1975 seasons.
He quickly recalls Hall of Famer George Brett as the best player he’s ever played with and Hal McRae as the best teammate he ever had, and recounts with angst being pinch-hit for during his only career All-Star Game in 1973.
But for the FS Wisconsin analyst who spent 10 years as a big-league player, baseball just might rank second on Nelson’s list of things he’s most passionate about. Get him talking about Open Arms : Home for Children and the other charities he is involved with and he beams with pride.
Nelson, , is holding his fourth annual Davey Nelson Celebrity Golf Classic at Blackwolf Run in Kohler on June 11. Proceeds from the event, which has raised more than $300,000 in its first three years, will be split between Open Arms and Brewers Community Foundation.
“The people here in Milwaukee and Wisconsin have been very generous and very helpful and it’s been a pleasure to be able to put this event on,” Nelson said.
Through the Brewers Community Foundation, Nelson gets involved with the Milwaukee community by setting up Brewers sponsorships for area Little Leagues, lining up mentors for underprivileged kids and several other children-oriented initiatives.
Open Arms, meanwhile, is an orphanage in South Africa that Nelson assisted in founding. Seven years ago, Nelson’s good friend Bob Solis and his wife Sally told Nelson they were spending their life savings and buying a home in South Africa to start Open Arms. Nelson agreed to be on the board of directors but wanted to be hands-on with the charity that has grown from five to 50 children.
“We take in abandoned and abused kids, kids that have lost their parents through the AIDS pandemic in South Africa, and we give these kids a loving environment they really wouldn’t have,” Nelson said. “I go over to South Africa. It’s mind-blowing and heartwarming to go there and see these kids, where they’ve come from and where they are now. It makes me want to continue to do this kind of work.”
The golf tournament proceeds have helped the orphanage expand to include new cottages, according to Nelson.
This year’s celebrity lineup includes Robin Yount, Rollie Fingers, Cecil Cooper, rock legend Alice Cooper, Kenny Lofton, Geoff Jenkins, Damian Miller, Gorman Thomas, Jim Gantner and many more.
The public can attend a dinner with the celebrities, golf in the event or even sponsor a hole or the putting contest. There will also be both silent and live auctions with items including Super Bowl tickets, the chance to throw out the first pitch at Miller Park, fishing trips and a large autographed picture of Wisconsin’s MVPs: Ryan Braun and Aaron Rodgers.
Visit brewers.com/davey for all the details.