Minneota loses ‘A Baseball Man’
“He had a shot at the major leagues, but he had a bad shoulder,” one Minneota baseball follower said about Tom Brewers. The 76-year-old passed away last week, leaving a legacy deep and wide.
Those that knew him well described Tom Brewers as a “quiet and humble man” who was a huge supporter of Minneota sports and his four grandsons’ biggest fan.
Brewers, who was inducted into the first Minneota Vikings Hall of Fame class in 2016, passed away on Oct. 3 at his home in Ghent at age 76 under the care of Prairie Home Hospice.
Brewers, arguably the best baseball player to don a Minneota baseball uniform, played on the lone state baseball tournament team in school history 1958.
He was hitting a robust .467 entering the state tournament that year. His talent on the diamond earned him a tryout with the Chicago White Sox, while he was also offered a tryout with the Minnesota Twins. Brewers was also a solid football, basketball and track athlete, garnering 16 letters in his varsity career at Minneota.
But it was the support that he and his wife Beth gave to their baseball-playing grandsons, Preston and Peyton Nuy of Minneota, Thomas Brewers of Sioux Falls and Hayden Brewers of Beresford, SD, that was equally as impressive.
The Nuys are the sons of Tom and Beth’s daughter Chris Pesch, while their son Greg Brewers is the father of Thomas and Hayden.
“They were at every single game, no matter the time, place or weather,” said Peyton Nuy, a 2015 graduate who played American Legion baseball, as well as the Minneota Mudhens.
“They both really supported us in everything we did. “I now live in Sioux Falls and play for the Lennox Reds. He came to quite a few of my games in South Dakota, too. He always had a tough time choosing between going to my game or my brother’s game.”
Preston Nuy graduated in 2017 and played Legion baseball and for the Mudhens last summer. “Grandpa was one of Peyton and my biggest supporters in anything that we did,” said Preston.
“I would always talk to him before any of my games and he always told me to keep my head up if something doesn’t go my way, and to do my best and have fun.
“Everyone on my team knew him as ‘Grandpa Tom’ and some would even call him grandpa at times. Grandpa and grandma would never miss a game. It didn’t matter if it was two hours away or right at home.”
Teammates of the Nuys referred to Tom Brewers as “grandpa”, too. Minneota high school and Legion baseball coach Keven Larson described Brewers as a “fixture”.
“He was at the majority of our games and more practices than not,” Larson recalled. “He loved watching Peyton and Preston play. He just loved being around the game.”
Brewers never tried to offer advice or tell his grandsons what they were doing wrong on the field, instead offering encouragement. “One thing grandpa would always say after a game was, ‘You played a whale of a ballgame,” said Peyton. “I loved when he said that. I don’t know why, but I always thought it was funny.”
“One thing that I really remember was he always told us to ‘Go get ‘em’ before the game,” said Preston. “He was always there before the games and would come over to the dugout and tell us ‘Good luck’. After each game, he would stand outside the dugout waiting to shake our hands and congratulate us.” Brewers was inducted into the Vikings Hall of Fame class with baseball teammates Steve Kjorness and John Stalpes. “We were best friends and still are,” Kjorness spoke about his relationship with Brewers during the induction ceremony two years ago. “I’m thankful Tom and I are going in together. We spent a lot of time together in (the Minneota school).”
Stalpes was the main pitcher on the team, while Brewers pitched and played third base, and Kjorness played first base. Greg Brewers introduced his father during the induction ceremony in 2016, admitting that he was unaware that his father was such a good baseball player until he read some newspaper clipping from a scrapbook.
“I’m, very proud of him,” Greg said that day.
“He’s a man of few words and I know he greatly appreciates this honor.”
Tom Brewers could have stepped up to the microphone and spent hours talking about all the highlights in his athletic career during the ceremony. Instead, he seemed uncomfortable talking about himself
. So he politely gave thanks for the honor bestowed upon him and was back sitting down in a matter of minutes.
He might not have been one to toot his own horn. But those that knew him are more than happy to do it for him.
My memories of Tom
As Mascot Publisher, Minneota Mudhen Board President and die-hard baseball fan, I honor the memory of a quiet man who put his stamp on Minneota baseball, and in his own way, left his legacy on the sport, the community, his family and all who played the game.
Through the years, I’ve heard stories of how Tom Brewers would slap the ball out of the ball park, game, after game, after game.
Many called him the best baseball player Minneota ever had — which is a huge compliment considering some of the greats who played the game — including his own mates, friend Steve Kjorness, John Stalpes, Bruce Davidson and others.
He played town ball for many years, coached and was a quiet contributor to the success of so many. When health ravaged his body, he fought back and did what he could do — supporting his grandsons, the Minneota teams and everyone involved.
He would show up one day in Luverne to watch grandson Preston play an American Legion game, the next day in Minneota as Preston joined the Mudhens and later in South Dakota to watch grandson Peyton play. You could be sure, wherever they played, Tom would be there.
I once asked him how such a small man could hit so many home runs and he said, “I wasn’t always so scrawny, but disease did this to me.”
Then he smiled. It was that “smile” I remember the most. He brought it with him wherever he went. That, and a sunny disposition that helped lift the spirit no matter what kind of day you were having.
Tom Brewers will be missed.
But as long as guys like Preston and Peyton Nuy are around to put on their spikes and run onto the field for another game, Tom will be there. — Byron Higgin.