Joe Nuxhall finds reward in helping thousands

Published: April 20, 2007 | 6026th good news item since 2003

Joe Nuxhall looks around the old Fairfield Central Elementary School gym and likes what he sees.

Instead of rah-rah pep-rally signs for the school team, walls are plastered with positive values promoted by his Joe Nuxhall Character Education Fund.

Respect. Pride. Honesty. Self-control. Kindness. Responsibility.

“This is very rewarding,” says Nuxhall, 78, who played basketball as a kid in the gym built in 1929. “You’d like to feel that you’ve helped kids succeed in some capacity, so they become better citizens.”

For most of his life, Nuxhall has toiled tirelessly behind the scenes to help children throughout his native Butler County and beyond. He has campaigned for school construction and tax issues, and handed out 370 college scholarships valued at $431,000.

With his son, Kim, a physical-education teacher at Fairfield Central, Joe has helped instill strong values in countless students. His Character Education Fund has distributed 12,000 posters and 100,000 baseball cards of Sean Casey, a former Red, with character messages.

While baseball fans know about his 15 years as a Reds pitcher – including his historic debut at age 15 in 1944 – and 31 years of “Marty & Joe” on Reds radio with Hall of Fame broadcaster Marty Brennaman, few know about Nuxhall’s lifelong commitment to kids.

“They don’t know about it because he doesn’t talk about it,” says Brennaman, Nuxhall’s radio partner for 31 seasons (1974-2004).

“He doesn’t do things and then pat himself on the back and make sure everybody in captivity knows what he’s doing. He legitimately would not care if anybody ever knew about it, because he derives enough satisfaction by himself, in doing what he does.

“He’s taught me a helluva lot about humility, because I’ve got a pretty good ego.”

Nuxhall shrugs off such praise.

“It’s for the kids. It’s not about me. I don’t like to blow my own horn. It’s not my nature.”

With the Ol’ Left-hander again battling cancer – four new tumors were found in his left leg in February – Joe and Kim will launch the $7.65 million Joe Nuxhall Project Hope program Thursday. His friends and his son want to establish a permanent legacy for Nuxhall, who will turn 79 July 30.

“Given his health issues of late, we have ratcheted it up for those very reasons,” says Kim, 52, a former Reds minor-league pitcher who has taught for 29 years in Fairfield.

The 7 p.m. dinner Thursday at Jungle Jim’s International Market Oscar Event Center in Fairfield will raise money for five programs:

Building the $2.4 million Joe Nuxhall Children’s Center, a gymnasium for Fairfield’s One Way Farm home for abused children.

Constructing a rubber Miracle League baseball field in Fairfield for wheelchair-bound children throughout the region.

Bringing the Cincinnati Reds’ Rookie Success baseball league for underprivileged youth ages 8-11 to Butler County.

Supporting the Joe Nuxhall Scholarship Fund, which awards scholarships to seniors at all 13 high schools in Butler County.

Establishing a Joe Nuxhall Character Education Fund office to plan seminars and expand the program nationwide. Since 2003, the Character Education Fund’s “world headquarters” has been Kim’s cramped school office off the gymnasium stage.

Published in Life
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