Former longtime Midwest League president George Spelius died Wednesday night. He was 83.
Spelius served as president of the Midwest League for 28 years, beginning in 1987. He stepped down on Jan. 1, 2015, at which time current MWL president Richard “Dick” Nussbaum II took over. At that time, Nussbaum said the following about Spelius:
George Spelius has left this league in great shape, and I know with the quality of ownership in our league, we will continue to be leaders in providing outstanding service to our fans and the best opportunity for the young stars of tomorrow in their development as players.
A florist by trade, Spelius first became involved with the Midwest League as part of the original group of investors who helped Beloit get a team. The club was known as the Beloit Brewers when it began play in 1982, and changed its nickname to the Snappers in 1995.
The Midweast League stabilized and expanded from 12 to 16 teams while Spelius was president. He twice was given the Warren Giles Award for outstanding service as a league president, in 1997 and 2010.
Even after he became league president, Spelius often was seen watching Snappers baseball with his wife, Nancy, from their Pohlman Field seats in the front row behind home plate.
The Snappers released this statement on social media Thursday afternoon:
We are very sad to say that George Spelius has passed away. George was the driving force behind bringing Minor League Baseball to Beloit back in 1982. In addition to being on our Board of Directors and an original founder of Beloit Professional Baseball, he was the President of the Midwest League for 28 years. You could always find him in the very front row of Snappers games. His upbeat attitude and humor will certainly be missed around Pohlman Field, Beloit, and the Midwest League. He was 83 years old. Please keep his family in your thoughts and prayers.
Last year Midwest League officials unveiled a newly-designed championship trophy for their league champions. They named it the George Spelius Championship Trophy.