Jim “Nugie” Watkins

 Old Timers remember Nugie Watkins as one of the best defensive shortstops in the game during the 30s and 40s. He played for Ham’s Didits, the Gas House Gang, and the Brown Bombers. At nineteen Jim “Nugie” Watkins did not realize the place he would make in 16″ softball history when he began his playing career with the original Gas House Gang. Playing in some of the best leagues on the South and West sides of Chicago, Nugie and his team began to make a name for themselves. To move into the tougher “White” leagues of the city, Nugie searched many areas of Chicago to field a team that would be espectable against Chicago’s top teams. These team members included Hall of Fame members Dan Dumas, “Sweetwater” Clifton, and Zeke Ireland. When the Gas House Gang entered the Windy City League in 1942, promoter Harry Hannin convinced the team to change its name to the Brown Bombers in order to capture the fame of boxing great Joe Louis and to increase their marketability. Watkins was the captain and hard hitting short fielder from 1939 to 1950. When “Nugie” Watkins was not playing for the Brown Bombers, he was playing for the Harlem Globetrotters from 1940 to 1945 at the unheard of salary of $100 per week. Watkins and his players also played in a semi-professional basketball team where they would travel to various cities and play games on Friday night, Saturday afternoon, and Sunday night, before returning to work on Monday morning. Since his retirement from G.T.E. in 1983 he has been working with Dr. Larry Hawkins and the Office and the Office of Special Programs on the .campus of the University of Chicago. This program believes that a well run sports program can be a positive force that can be used to – complement academic programs in schools. This endeavor has been credited with convincing the Chicago Board of Education to institute inter-school sports programs in seventh and eighth grades. Nugie still finds time to volunteer at various schools in Chicago teaching students the fundamentals of 16″ softball.