2007 Marc H. Blau Meritorious Service Award
Here's a quiz for you: Who is the only man to serve as the head athletic trainer for both the National League and the American League in the Major League Baseball All Star Game? The answer is Gary Nicholson, Pacific Lutheran University's long-time athletic trainer and formerly a trainer for the Chicago Cubs and the Seattle Mariners.
Nicholson, born on April 29, 1944 in Wendell, Idaho, was a center on the College of Idaho (now Albertson College) when the school brought in the talented Taft Jackson - who would go on to set the school career scoring record - to play in the post. Seeing the writing on the wall, Nicholson turned his full attention to athletic training. While still a student, he was an athletic trainer at College of Idaho from 1964-66, and he graduated from the school in 1967. He later did his graduate work at Indiana University, where he had the opportunity to work with many top-level coaches (including swimming guru Doc Counsilman) and athletes (Mark Spitz).
Nicholson got his start as a professional athletic trainer with baseball's Chicago Cubs. After two years working for the Cubs' minor league team in Boise, Gary took a job as head trainer for the Cubs' AAA team in Tacoma. He moved up to the major league club as an assistant and later as head trainer, serving in Chicago from 1972-76. These were the Cubs team of Ernie Banks, Ron Santo, Billy Williams and feisty manager Leo "The Lip" Durocher.
In the summer of 1973, Gary served as the athletic trainer for the National League All-Star team, managed by Sparky Anderson. Gary eventually moved back to the Pacific Northwest in 1977 as trainer for the fledgling Seattle Mariners, where he stayed until 1982. While with Seattle, he served as the American League's athletic trainer for the 1979 All-Star game at the Kingdome, earning the distinction as the only person to serve as head athletic trainer for both leagues in the "mid-summer classic".
When not working for the Mariners, Nicholson served as Pacific Lutheran's athletic trainer starting in 1973. After leaving the Mariners, he joined the PLU staff on a full-time basis and has been taping ankles and setting broken bones - and teaching how to tape ankles and set broken bones - since then.
In addition to working at PLU, he was the athletic trainer for the National Figure Skating Championships in 1987 and the baseball trainer for the 1992 Goodwill Games.
Gary Nicholson works on Billy Williams,
Chicago Cubs outfielder, while a trainer
for the National League team.