Keith Nicholson: From Blues Guitar to Invaluable Board Member of the Northwest Arkansas MSBL

Submitted by Stephen Boudreaux, former League President Northwest Arkansas MSBL

I need to applaud the efforts of Keith Nicholson of the Northwest Arkansas MSBL.  Over the course of my 17 or so years running the NWAMSBL and almost 30 years playing in that league, I have never met a better over-communicator and dedicated and passionate baseball man.

Logo of the Northwest Arkansas Mens senior baseball league

Keith Nicholson played his college ball in Louisiana. After moving up to Northwest Arkansas he, also being a crafty blues guitar player, happened upon a rather famous regional drummer, Stephen Boudreaux who was coincidentally running the local MSBL chapter and their dialogue turned quickly to that.  Nicholson had an immediate impact on my NWA White Sox squad and helped lead that team to a league runner-up finish and over the course of the next eight years, a 95-49 record (.660).  He has spent countless hours getting to fields early with a rake and Quick-Dry as needed to make sure the playing surfaces were as great as possible regardless the city preppers.

In 2023 so far, Nicholson, realizing that the league might be short on ballfields to accommodate its growth, found a relatively abandoned field in a rural town not far from the league’s center.  He personally took under-sized weed eaters and mowers, rakes, and shovels to re-build the field to working conditions.  This atop his taking over my NWA White Sox squad as acting coach/manager where his over-communications are likely legendary.  Nicholson was appointed to the league board (by me almost immediately upon his arrival here) and has served these past eight years with the highest integrity and always the “best-for-the-league” suggestions.

His diplomatic demeanor solves concerns in their tracks and has almost single-handedly caused the entire league to put on a nice-guy face.  Despite his passion for the game that drives him to succeed, sacrifice his (aging) body in the field, and break a bat over his leg after a whiff, he is constantly smiling, greeting teammates AND opponents with a hug and a nicety, and putting aside his own needs for the needs of the team or the league.

While my baseball playing days will be forever over in just a few short weeks, I am still a believer in both our local league’s success and the success of the national organization.  Baseball has occupied 93% of my whole life and I have always known that the PEOPLE in the game (especially in the dugout) are what has always made it special.  Keith Nicholson is the best of those people.

We reached out to Keith for his reflections on his journey through the Northwest Arkansas MSBL.

“It is such an honor to know I’ve had an impact on someone (Stephen Boudreaux) who’s positively impacted 100’s during his tenure, through all of his many exploits on and off the diamond. 

Although any efforts on my part were never done with recognition in mind, I’ll gladly use this as an opportunity to shine a light on our local league here in Northwest Arkansas. We’ve had some great/community-focused leadership, both past and present, and are very much staying this course as our area/league continues to grow.

What many of us don’t realize, is that this is really a necessary community service, disguised as grown men still playing a ‘kid’s game.’ We may start off in our local leagues ‘to see if we still have it’ but it eventually blossoms into the realization that there’s something bigger at play.

I can’t possibly keep track of the number of times a Sunday double-header has personally provided me stress relief or distraction from life’s ups & downs, just by helping give an afternoon reprieve to help refresh and refocus on what’s important.  There have been countless opportunities to learn from/share in/help with a teammate’s life experiences or personal milestones, just like family.

The camaraderie/brotherhood that exists in a baseball dugout is unmatched by any other sport/job/group/band that I’ve ever been blessed to be a part of. 

Thank you, guys, for starting this organization so many years previous. The impact it has had on communities all across this nation is immeasurable. Thanks again for what all you guys do!”