Baseball and Charley Kerfeld just go together
What better way to get our Sunday morning started than with a trivia question? Name the five Carson High School graduates who played major league baseball in the ’90s?
I’ll give you some help. One of them is Charley Kerfeld. And don’t call George W. either as he only knows one of the other four.
Charley is 36 years old. He was born at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri. He lives here in Carson City with his parents in the home they bought in 1972.
“I come home for the winter every year and I’m glad to be back home,” said Charley as we began our visit. “I was 9-years old when we came here.”
Charley’s mom, Marge, was born in Wexford, Ireland. Her age is “unknown for public print” according to Marge. His dad, Jerry, is 81 and was born in Fremont, Minn.
“Jerry was in the U.S. Air Force for 30 years and retired in 1972,” said Marge about her husband. “He was a food service operator and ran all the mess halls at every base we were stationed at. We were in England twice, in Germany and at many bases in the United States. Jerry also worked at the Ormsby House in the food department for 11 years.”
Marge retired in 1988 from Carson-Tahoe Hospital. “I was in nursing for 17 years,” she added.
Charley is the youngest of five boys. Bob lives in Minneapolis, Paul in Sacramento and Dave here in Carson City. Steve died in 1982.
LET’S TALK SPORTS
Charley was a three-sport star at Carson High School. In addition to baseball he played football and basketball.
“I was All-State in football (1981) as a linebacker,” he said modestly. “Played a little running back too. In basketball I was a forward. I made second team all league too. I pitched for four years at Carson High and was All-State my junior and senior year. We won state in 1979.”
Most don’t know this but Charley used to box “a little bit” back then and he knows, and is friends with, a former Street Talker and friend, George Foreman.
“I boxed mostly for fun,” said Charlie, who is 6 foot 8 inches tall and weighs around 240 pounds. “I boxed at the old Stewart Indian School gym.”
Were you any good at it?
“I was good at fighting, but not boxing,” he replied with a laugh. “I worked out with George Foreman at the gym in Houston when I was with the Astros. He’s a great guy with a heart of gold. He’s a friend.”
Ah yes, the Astros. That would be the Houston Astros and Charley had his biggest success in the majors with them. It all began at Carson High.
“I was drafted out of high school by the Philadelphia Phillies,” said Charley. “I was 17 years old. I chose to go to junior college for a year and didn’t sign with them. Then I was drafted by the Seattle Mariners but I chose to play American Legion ball for the Carson Capitols. When Houston then drafted me I signed with them and went to the minor leagues.”
His first year was at Ashville, N.C.
“That was single-A ball,” said Charley, who is a right-handed pitcher. “My second year was in double-A at Columbus, Ga. My third year began at Tucson in triple-A ball but halfway through the season I was called up to the majors …. I was 21 years old.”
Charley made his major league debut on July 27, 1985. He won his first game on Aug. 3, 1985, and earned his first save on April 15, 1986. His best year in the majors was 1986 when Charley went 11-2 with 7 saves and his ERA (Earned run average) was 2.59. He was 4-2 in that half-year of 1985.
Charley was friends with pitching great and Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan.
“He was my locker-mate and a very close friend,” said Charley happily. “We still keep in touch.”
Charlie, who started and relieved during his career, retired in 1992 with a 20-9, 10 saves career record. He retired because of numerous injuries as Charley had three shoulder surgeries and four knee operations, as well as a few other assorted injuries.
“Actually, they retired me,” he laughed. “I didn’t have it anymore.”
While with Houston, Charlie was known as a free spirit who played many practical jokes on teammates. He was also a self-described party animal and I asked him about that reputation and if it was true.
“Yes it was and probably well-earned when I was younger,” he answered, a big smile on his face. “I liked to party and have fun. I’m just a good old boy. I’ve mellowed now. Slowed down my life a whole bunch. You can only do that crap for so long and then it wears out. I’m a homebody now. I think that surprises a lot of people who knew me when I was a party animal. They would be shocked.”
I knew Charley then. We did our first interview after that 1986 season.
“I remember that,” said Charley. “It was at the Ormsby House at the boxing ring.”
The Ormsby House had a ring set up then on the casino floor and light heavyweight champion Virgil Hill was training there and sparring with some local fighters, including Nicky Walker and Shaun Ayers.
I will add here that our first visit was fun. Charley was still a party animal then and a fun guy to talk with. He’s still a fun guy to talk with, I might add.
A NEW CAREER
These days Charley is a manager. Last year he managed the Reno Blackjacks and next season he will manage the Chico Heat in the Western Baseball League.
Next Sunday, we’ll continue our visit with Charley and talk about his managerial career, where he hopes it will lead plus we’ll talk about what Charley does for fun, how he likes his new lifestyle and why he turned down a dozen offers to become a major league pitching coach plus lots more. He’ll also tell us what his baseball cards are worth and talk about how he likes to come home to Carson City.
— Trivia answer – Matt Williams (S.F. Giants and Arizona Diamondbacks); Bob Ayrault (Philadelphia Phillies); David Lundquist (Chicago White Sox); Donovan Osborne (St. Louis Cardinals).
“That’s a big accomplishment for such a small city and small high school,” added Charley. “It’s amazing! Ron McNutt was our coach and coached all five of us.”
Charley will talk more about that too next week.
ALAN ROGERS is a Nevada Appeal columnist. His message phone is 887-2430, ext. 402.