By Evan Casey
Dave Nelson, longtime Milwaukee Brewers coach and broadcaster, died last week Sunday after a long battle with lung cancer. Nelson, or “Davey,” had a storied career in baseball and charity work. He was 73.
Born in Oklahoma on June 20, 1944 and raised in California, Nelson played 10 seasons in the Major Leagues from 1968-1977 with the Cleveland Indians, Washington Senators/Texas Rangers, and Kansas City Royals. He then decided to coach several teams at a variety of positions from 1980 to 2006. He finally settled in as the Brewers pregame analyst for Fox Sports Wisconsin in 2007. Nelson was also the Director of Milwaukee Brewers Alumni Relations, and was inducted into the Compton Community College Athletics Hall of Fame in 2012.
Of all his feats, perhaps Nelson’s largest impact was his role in the lives of disadvantaged children in South Africa. Nelson was on the Board of Directors for Open Arms Home for Children, a full-time home for children who come from disadvantaged backgrounds in South Africa. The home, located in Komga: a small town on the southeast coast of the country of South Africa, also has a school on the property and currently has 57 children living there who are cared for by the staff.
Nelson was one of the first people asked by co-founder Bob Solis to serve on the Board of Directors for the home. The Davey Nelson Charity Golf Tournament, organized and ran by Nelson, has helped raise over $250,000 for the charity.
“He was known as ‘Uncle Davey’ at Open Arms,” said Bob Solis, Co-founder of Open Arms Home for Children, in a statement. “He would often visit South Africa in the baseball offseason, spending weeks with what he considered his extended family.”
Dave’s impact with the home was also remembered by Tyler Barnes, Senior Vice President of the Milwaukee Brewers.
“My family and I were lucky enough to travel to the home with Dave back in 2014 and his influence there was evident the minute we stepped out of the car,” said Barnes. “Within seconds, he had about 20 kids pile on him in a giant mound, all them yelling, ‘Uncle Davey is here!’”
Barnes said that Nelson will be dearly missed by the charity.
“Open Arms has fifty kids, all of them thriving, and working together to bring joy to each other,” said Barnes. “Davey lived life the same way. He turned obstacles into opportunities at every turn. He had thousands of friends, but you always felt like you were the center of attention when you were in his presence.”
Donations can be made in Dave Nelson’s name to the charity at openarmshome.com.
“Davey always said that ‘Open Arms changed his life,’ but honestly it was his life that changed so many others,” said Solis.