Obituary Record

Robert Henry Sr. "Bob" Cerv
Died on 4/6/2017

#1 Posted on line 10 April 2017; Published in The Pilot Tribune 11 April 2017

(Photo) (Veteran)

Robert 'Bob' Henry Cerv, Sr., 91

Robert Henry Cerv, Sr., 91, better known as "Bob," passed on to his heavenly host on Thursday, April 6, 2017, in Blair, NE.

Bob was born to his parents, Anton and Henrietta (Staska) Cerv, on May 5, 1925, in Weston, Nebraska, a small town west of Wahoo, NE. He served his country in the U.S. Navy during WWII until he was honorably discharged. On June 5, 1948, Bob was united in marriage to Phyllis Pelton at St. John Nepomucene Church in Weston, NE.

Bob was an eight-time letter winner at the University of Nebraska in both basketball and baseball. He signed with the New York Yankees in 1950. He played with the Yankees until 1956, and then was traded to the Kansas City Athletics in 1957. In 1958, Bob hit 38 home runs and was elected to the A.L. All-Star Team.

He went back to the Yankees in 1961 and roomed with Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris, a great threesome. He also teamed with Whitey Ford, Yogi Berra, Bobby Richardson, Elston Howard, and others. In 1962, Bob's playing career came to an end as he was released by the Houston Colts.

After baseball, Bob coached at John F. Kennedy College in Wahoo and later, Sioux Empire College in Hawarden, Iowa.He won the NBC Tournament one summer in Wichita, Kansas while managing the Liberal B.J.'s, a semi-professional baseball team. One player stated that Bob was a great coach while sitting on a five-gallon pail. Bob was really a quite modest man about his baseball background and he always said his greatest accomplishment in life was his ten children.

He is survived by children: Sandy Harrington of Lincoln, Karen Chambers of Laguna Beach, CA, Robert Jr. (Mary) Cerv of Alliance, Joseph (Mary) Cerv of Overland Park, KS, John (Maggie) Cerv of Gladstone, MO, Phyllis Willis of Basehor, KS, Dawn (Todd) Ericson of Hawarden, IA, and Melissa (Randy) Lock of Blair; 32 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren; sister, Bonnie Nelson of Lincoln; brother-in-law, Wade (Nancy) Pelton of Texas; many nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by wife, Phyllis Cerv; daughters: Sithay Ann Cerv and Denise Mahoney; sisters: Laverne Richardson and Joyce Kucera.

Mass was held Monday, April 10, 2017, at St. John Nepomucene Catholic Church, Weston, NE.

Interment will be at St. John Cemetery, Weston.

Memorials may be designated to the Bob Cerv Monument in the Weston Park.

Visit to leave condolences.

#2 Article by Leanna Ellis Pilot Tribune 11 April 2017


He played 12 seasons in the major leagues, was friends with President Harry Truman and roomed with New York Yankees sluggers Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris as the battled for the 1961 home run title. But for Bob Cerv, his greatest accomplishment was his family.

Cerv, a former outfielder for the New York Yankees and Kansas City A's, died Thursday in Blair. He was 91.

Cerv, who grew up in Weston, moved to Blair to be close to family. He was living at the Carter Place senior living community at the time of his death. Funeral services were Monday at St. John Nepomucene Catholic Church. Burial was in St. John Cemetery, Weston.

Cerv's grandson, Jacob Lock, read a statement from Cerv's daughter, Dawn (Cerv) Ericson, on Friday morning.

“He held my hand for years and tonight I got to hold his as he left. He taught me things no one else did. He was a competitor, a champion and his love and pride for his family was his greatest accomplishment.

“He counted the days with his desk calendar for years. The last time he was able was April 2. Spring was his favorite time of year because baseball season started.

“Dance with mom, give her a hug for me and there will be a game tonight in heaven. Play ball.”

Playing professional baseball was Cerv's lifelong dream.

As a boy, Cerv traveled with his father to New York City to see the Yankees play. They watched a doubleheader against the Philadelphia City Athletics.

“Lou Gehrig had three home runs," Cerv told the Pilot-Tribune in 2012. "Bob Johnson from the A's hit three home runs, but the Yankees won both games. So I came back home and I said, 'I'm going to be a Yankee some day.'”

Following high school, Cerv entered the U.S. Navy. He served as a radarman on the U.S.S. Claxton (DD-571) in the Pacific during World War II. The Claxton patrolled the Pacific, fighting in battles for the Solomon Islands.

On Nov. 1, 1944, the ship was attacked by a Japanese Kamikaze plane, which struck the water only a few feet from the starboard side alongside gun mount No. 5, where Cerv was assigned.

Cerv was reaching down for a missile when the plane hit.

“Everything was punch-boarded above me,” Cerv said in an interview in January 2017. “Everyone around me was hit. I'm not sure why I wasn't.”

Cerv was discharged from the service in 1946. He returned to Nebraska and attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he played both baseball and basketball, earning eight athletic letters. He was Nebraska baseball's first All-American.

Cerv also met his wife, Phyllis, while he was in school and the two married. The couple raised 10 children.

In 1948, he received his first offer to play professional baseball — $40,000 from the Chicago White Sox. But Phyllis had other ideas.

“My wife said, 'No way. You're going to get your degree and then I'll follow you forever,'” Cerv said.

Cerv received a degree to teach industrial arts.

In 1950, Cerv signed with the Yankees for $5,000. He was assigned to New York's AAA affiliate, the Kansas City Blues, for the first few years. In 1954, he made the big league club. He served as a pinch hitter and played in the 1955 World Series. He won the World Series with the Yankees in 1956. He also played in the Fall Classic in 1960.

In 1956, the Yankees traded Cerv to the Kansas City A's — a story Cerv enjoyed telling.

It was a hot day, late in the 1956 season. Cerv was taking a break from throwing batting practice when manager Casey Stengel told him the Yankees had just acquired Enos Slaughter from the Athletics.

The pair chatted before Cerv got up to finish batting practice.

“As I was leaving he said, 'By the way, one of you guys is going to Kansas City.' I'm the only one. That's how he let me know,” Cerv said.

Cerv had one of his best seasons with Kansas in 1958, despite playing two months with his jaw wired shut following a collision at home plate against the Detroit Tigers.

At the All-Star break, Cerv was batting .324 and was chosen to start the All-Star Game over Boston Red Sox slugger Ted Williams. Cerv finished the season hitting .305 with 38 home runs — a single-season record for home runs, which he still holds

That year, Cerv met Yankees star outfielder Roger Maris for the first time when the sluggers were roommates in Kansas City.

Cerv and Maris roomed together again in 1961 when they were both with the Yankees. The teammates were joined by New York's power-hitting outfielder Mickey Mantle.

“He was the fastest man I'd every seen,” Cerv said of Mantle.

Cerv had a front-row seat as Maris and Mantle battled to see who would break Babe Ruth's single-season home run record. Maris broke the record on Oct. 1, 1961.

Cerv played 12 seasons in the major leagues with the Yankees, Athletics, Los Angeles Angels and Houston Colt 45s. He retired following the 1962 season.

In September 2011, the Yankees honored Maris with a special ceremony to mark the 50th anniversary of his record-breaking home run.

Cerv, with help from his son, joined his former teammates Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Bill “Moose” Skowron and Bobby Richardson at Yankee Stadium at the request of Maris' family.

It was the first time Cerv had seen the stadium, which had only opened two years before.

“Beautiful,” he said. “I didn't think I'd ever get there.”

#3 Omaha World Herald 8 April 2017

Cerv, Robert H. Age 91 Of Blair, NE, entered into eternal rest on Thursday, April 6, 2017 at Carter Place Assisted Living in Blair, NE. He was born May 5, 1925 in Weston, NE. VISITATION will be Sunday, April 9, 2017, 5-7pm, with 7pm Rosary, all at Church. MASS OF CHRISTIAN BURIAL: Monday, April 10, 2017, 10am at St. John Nepomucene Catholic Church, Weston, NE. Interment at St. John Cemetery, Weston. Visit to leave condolences. SVOBODA FUNERAL HOME Wahoo, NE 402-443-3624

#4 Omaha World Herald

Nebraska native, former Husker and MLB star Bob Cerv lived 'lucky' life; in prime, he was All-Star in Kansas City

By Rich Kaipust / World-Herald staff writer Apr 7, 2017

(Photo) (Caption) Bob Cerv’s breakout year was 1958 when he hit a Kansas City-record 38 home runs with a .304 batting average and 104 RBls, and started in the All-Star Game ahead of Hall of Famer Ted Williams.

The trade that sent Bob Cerv to Kansas City after the 1956 baseball season pulled him away from marquee times with the New York Yankees, but also gave the Nebraska-born athlete a chance to be more than a platoon player or pinch hitter.

Cerv before long would have a year good enough to make him an All-Star and put him fourth in voting for American League MVP.

Cerv bashed 38 home runs for the Kansas City Athletics in 1958, and his final statistics for 141 games included 104 RBIs, a .305 batting average and a .592 slugging percentage. Although the A’s would move to Oakland, the 38 homers remain a single-season record for any Kansas City major leaguer.

Cerv died Thursday night in Blair. He was 91.

“He was a humble man. Dad always was,” said daughter Karen Chambers. “He maybe even himself didn’t realize the accomplishments throughout his life.”

Cerv was a University of Nebraska baseball and basketball standout coming out of small-town Weston, just a few miles southwest of Wahoo. Three stints with the Yankees included six trips to the World Series, time as a roommate with Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle and friendships with other Hall of Famers such as Yogi Berra. He came in at No. 32 on The World-Herald’s updated list of the top 100 athletes from Nebraska released in 2015.

But Cerv never saw more than 134 at-bats in a season with the Yankees between 1951 and ’56 before being shipped to Kansas City for cash.

He would hit 69 of his 105 career homers over the following three years, and the 1958 season might have been even better if not for a home-plate collision with Detroit catcher Red Wilson in May that left him playing with a broken jaw.

Of going from the Yankees to the Athletics, Cerv two years ago said: “I was tickled to death because I could play every day. And I proved to them that I could play every day.”

The Yankees would twice trade to get Cerv back. He played 57 games for New York in 1961 as Maris and Mantle made their historic chase of Babe Ruth’s single-season home run record, which Maris would break with 61.

The brushes with fame weren’t limited to New York. During his time in Kansas City, Cerv was befriended by former President Harry Truman, and Cerv kept a picture in his room at a Blair nursing home of Truman honoring him on Bob Cerv Night at the old Municipal Stadium.

Cerv said in a 2015 interview that he was probably headed from Weston to play basketball for Eddie Hickey at Creighton after graduating in 1943. College was sidetracked by World War II, however, and he served in the Navy from 1943 to ’46, mostly aboard the USS Claxton (DD-571) in the Pacific.

At NU, Cerv was the Huskers’ first baseball All-American in 1950 after hitting .444 with nine home runs. He also helped NU to a pair of Big Seven basketball titles and remains the only Husker to letter four times in both baseball and basketball.

“I always said my life was kind of lucky,” Cerv said in 2015. “Everything I ever did, it turned out pretty well.”

After his 12-year major league career, Cerv was the first baseball and basketball coach when the old John F. Kennedy College opened in Wahoo in 1965. One of his first baseball players was Don Clark, who would remain a close friend for 50 years and is the longtime register of deeds for Saunders County.

“He would be dressed in full uniform every day, taped his ankles … and got out there and worked with you,” said Clark, who recalled it not being unusual for Maris or Moose Skowron to come around and visit when Cerv was coaching.

Clark said a 6-foot marble statue of Cerv will be unveiled in July at the ballpark in Weston, just a few houses away from his boyhood home. Clark had stopped by the Saunders County Museum on Friday to grab a giant portrait of Cerv in his K.C. Athletics jersey that would be displayed at his memorial and funeral services.

“I just have so much admiration for the man,” Clark said.

Nebraska already was planning a Bob Cerv Day for May 5, which would have been his 92nd birthday. It will be part of a veterans/military weekend for Husker baseball at Haymarket Park, and 750 Cerv bobbleheads will be distributed on that Friday night.

Cerv was preceded in death by his wife, Phyllis, and daughters Denise Mahoney and Sithay Cerv. Chambers said his family included 10 children, 33 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren.

“His family was the most important thing to him,” Chambers said. “For everyone he really ever met, he was always a friend and a coach. Even when he worked with his grandchildren, he’d praise them yet educate them on what the right things were to do.”

Cerv was an uncle to Derrie Nelson, a former Nebraska defensive end who was a three-year starter and All-Big Eight player his final two seasons in 1979 and ’80.

A visitation and memorial will be held Sunday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at St. John Nepomucene in Weston, followed by funeral services Monday at 10 a.m. at the church., 402-444-1042,

#5 Funeral Leaflet

(many photos)

In Loving Memory of Robert H. Cerv Sr.

Date of Birth May 5, 1925 Weston, Nebraska ~ Entered Into Rest April 6, 2017 Blair, Nebraska

Visitation and Rosary Sunday, April 9, 2017, 5-7:00 p.m. St. John Nepomucene Catholic Church, Weston, Nebraska. Mass of Christian Burial Monday, April 10, 2017 10:00 a.m. at the church. Rev. Matthew Vandewalle, Celebrant. Bob Mahoney, Lector. Music: “Be Not Afraid”, “Blest Art They”, “One Bread, One Body”, “Loving and Forgiving”, “Song of Farewell”, “On Eagle’s Wings” Gladys Cajka, Organist; Lisa & Brie Mahoney, Vocalists

Pallbearers: Christopher Ericson, Elias Cerv, Jacob Loc, Trevor Ericson, Luke Willis, Seth Cerv, Michael Cerv, Nathaniel Ericson, Isaac Cerv

Honorary Pallbearers: Don Clark, Todd Erickson, Robert Cerv III, Benjamin Chambers, Randy Lock, Shane Harrington, Jamie Cerv, Andrew Cerv, Bob Mahoney, Sean Harrington, Luke Harrington, Sammy AlThayedi

Interment with Military Honors: US Navy American Legion #308, St. John Cemetery, Weston, Nebraska

~~~ Obituaries and funeral leaflet courtesy of Washington County Genealogical Society. Newspaper clippings and leaflets on file in the Blair Public Library at Blair, Nebraska~~~

FindaGrave #178178281(note: this is a ‘famous’ memorial, so no edits are permitted. He will not be found under Robert, but under Bob)

Printed in the Washington County Pilot-Tribune on 4/11/2017