When the 1946 Stadium High School Tigers went to Walla Walla to play for the state championship, they carried with them a hard-throwing righthander who would lead them to the title.
Harry Nygard was born in 1928 in Rochester, Wash., and started turning heads while playing baseball for Sportsman Club as a Jason Lee Junior High School student. A two-year baseball team captain at Stadium High, Nygard was a one-man pitching crew in leading the Tigers to the state title as a junior.
In a four-game period over eight days, Nygard threw 37 innings to win all four contests. He threw nine innings to beat Bellarmine on a Friday and 10 more innings in a state-qualifying win over Renton on the Tuesday prior to the state tournament. There, he one-upped himself. In a Friday night state semifinal game he fanned 14 batters in nine innings as Stadium topped Bellingham, 4-0. The following evening in the title game, he struck out 16 more in nine innings of Stadium’s 14-0 whitewash of Spokane’s Rogers High School.
While the pitching performance was remarkable, throwing between 500 and 600 pitches over an eight-day period took a toll on Nygard’s arm and perhaps led to a premature end to a promising baseball career.
Nygard finished high school early to begin his pro career, signing first with the Tacoma Tigers in January of 1947 and then with the Brooklyn Dodgers organization. He played four professionally four seasons with El Centro, the Medford Dodgers, Boise Pilots, Idaho Falls Russets, and finally with the Vancouver Capilanos in the Western International League. The highlight of his pro career came when he was named the starting pitcher in the 1949 Pioneer League All-Star Game played in Salt Lake City.
Nygard is retired from a successful career—one he credits to his competitive spirit in sports—as a Kirby Vacuum Cleaner distributor.