Nate Teut coming home to Churdan to talk baseball, his career and life

CHURDAN, Iowa, April 28 — Nathan “Nate” Teut, the only high school graduate from Greene County to play Major League Baseball, returns to his hometown of Churdan on Friday, May 5, to speak on his career in baseball, his love of the game and his perspective on growing up here.

The Greene County Historical Society is hosting the program at St. Columbkille Catholic Church in Churdan, with an $8 lunch at 12 noon. Historical society members should RSVP to their community contacts by Wednesday, May 3.  Lunch for non-members is available, too, for $10 and they can RSVP by calling vice-president Nancy Hanaman at (515) 436-7684. The program at 1 p.m. at the church is free.

Teut, a 1994 graduate of Paton-Churdan High School who went on to play and graduate at Iowa State University, was a left-handed pitcher who had a 9-year playing career in professional baseball, most of it in the minor leagues.  But 15 years ago, in May of 2002, he appeared in two games in the major leagues for the Florida Marlins, now re-named the Miami Marlins.

Nate Teut

“Nate is the only Major League Baseball player I’ve been able to document that went to a high school in Greene County,” said Doug Rieder, of Jefferson, the sports broadcaster and writer who’s been working here for nearly 40 years.

After Teut’s playing career ended, he spent a dozen years in the business management of the Iowa Cubs, the AAA affiliate of the Chicago Cubs, in Des Moines.  He left the I-Cubs earlier this year, and said he is close to finalizing a new position in central Iowa.

We told him we had an idea for a new job for him – director of baseball operations, if not head coach, for the resurrection of the baseball program at his alma mater, Iowa State U.

“I’ll take it!” the 41-year-old Teut said immediately.

But since ISU has no known plans to re-start a baseball program, Teut said he is anticipating another kind of employment – and looking forward to it.

“You know, as much as I love baseball and all the years I’ve had in it, I also think about how I’ve never done anything else professionally,” he said. “So I feel like it’s a good thing now to see what else is out there.  Another nice thing about doing something else would be that I’ve never had a real summer in 20 years, going back to the summer of 1995 when I played in a summer college league.  Every summer since then, I’ve either been playing baseball or working in it.”

He and his wife Nicole, a native of Centralia in Dubuque County, live in Waukee and have a son Maddox, 10, and daughter Harper, 7.

Nate Teut was a sixth grader when his family moved to Churdan in 1987 from Bussey in southeast Iowa.  His father Oran Teut was superintendent of the Paton-Churdan Schools, and his mother Becky Teut was a teacher.  The parents are now divorced, with Oran living in Tulsa, Okla., while Becky lives in Ankeny. Both are retired from their careers as educators.  Nate’s older sister Tatum Buse is now vice-president of finance for Rockwell Collins, Inc., in Cedar Rapids.

PCHS had its own baseball team when Nate was playing.  He began growing and filling out, on his way to eventually being 6 ft. 6 in. and 225 pounds.  He simply overpowered most high school hitters.

“We were pretty good in baseball,” he said of his career with the Rockets. “In my senior year, we got beat in the substate finals.  I’ve always thought we would’ve made it to the state tournament if I hadn’t run out of innings.”  The number of innings that individual pitchers can throw in a week is restricted in Iowa high school ball.

He also starred in basketball for the Rockets, and they too came up just short of the state tournament in his senior year.

Teut made the Iowa State varsity team as a freshman in the spring of 1995 – in fast company!

“We were in the old Big Eight Conference back then, and I made my Big Eight debut as a freshman relief pitcher against Oklahoma State,” Teut recalled. “They brought me in with the bases loaded and no outs.  I struck out two batters and somehow got out of that inning without giving up any runs.”

Three days later, he made his first start as a college pitcher against the University of Oklahoma, which had won the College World Series the summer before.

The form that took Nate Teut from Paton-Churdan to Iowa State U and to professional baseball. (Photo by Larry Woolis for the Iowa Cubs)

Teut had an impressive 3-year career at Iowa State, sufficiently so that in 1997, he was drafted by the Chicago Cubs – his favorite baseball team then and now.

His minor league stops were in Williamsport, Penn.; Rockford, Ill.; Daytona Beach, Fla.; Jackson, Tenn.; Des Moines; Calgary, Canada; Albuquerque; Des Moines again; Indianapolis; Nashua, N.H., and finally back in Des Moines again to close his playing career.

He spent most of 2002 with the Calgary Cannons, then the Florida Marlins’ AAA team, and it was from there in early May that he received the call-up to the major league club “for a spot start” against the Milwaukee Brewers. Teut pitched well but was tagged with the loss and returned to Calgary.   He was called up again at the end of June, and pitched in relief for the Marlins against the Philadelphia Phillies.

“As I look back on it, I wouldn’t change anything,” he said of his years as a player. “The only regret – and really it’s more of an unfulfilled dream than a regret – is that I never got to pitch at Wrigley Field in Chicago.  I’ve always been such a huge Cubs fan, I would have loved an opportunity at Wrigley.”

Nate Teut as a pitcher with Major League Baseball’s Florida Marlins in 2002.

Actor Tom Milligan plays artist & conservationist “Ding” Darling this Sunday

JEFFERSON, Iowa, April 19, 2017 — Tom Milligan, an outstanding professional actor from Des Moines, has twice before performed one-person programs in Jefferson portraying notable figures of Iowa history – former U.S. Vice-President Henry A. Wallace and legendary artist Grant Wood.  He’ll bring another one back to life here this Sunday afternoon, April 23 – J.N. “Ding” Darling, the Des Moines Register cartoonist who won two Pulitzer Prizes, was an acclaimed artist and a nationally-recognized conservationist.

“The Art of Conservation: A Visit with Ding Darling” will be presented free at 2 p.m. at the Greene County Historical Museum. Milligan will appear in-character, carrying on a chat with the audience, even answering questions as Darling would have. 

J.N. “Ding” Darling

Darling was born in Michigan but grew up in Sioux City.  His began his work in journalism in 1900 as both a reporter and cartoonist with the Sioux City Journal. He joined the Des Moines Register & Leader in 1906, and for the next 13 years bounced back and forth between the Register & Tribune and two different newspapers in New York City.  In 1919, he settled at the Register and finished his career there, winning his Pulitzers in 1924 and 1943.  His cartoons from Des Moines were published by newspapers across the nation and beyond. He died in 1962.

As a result of Darling’s long advocacy for conservation, the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Florida’s Sanibel Island is named after him.  A lake in Iowa, a lake in North Dakota and a conservation center in West Virginia are also named for him.

“One thing different about this Ding Darling play from the others I’ve performed about historical figures is that I wrote this one myself,” Milligan said.  “It was commissioned by the Humanities Iowa program and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, and I worked on it all last summer.  We premiered it at the Iowa State Fair last August, and I’ve performed it about 15 times since then all over the state.  It’s done real well.  I know we’ve got bookings for it well into 2018, and there’s interest beyond Iowa because of how well-known Ding Darling was as a conservationist.”

The idea to do a one-person play about Darling actually came from a strong conservationist in Florida. 

“This man in Florida knows Ding Darling’s grandson, and the family had expressed a concern that Ding’s legacy is naturally fading as the years go by,” Milligan said. “He called the DNR in Iowa and asked if they’d be interested in sponsoring some kind of show.  The DNR folks said they liked the idea, but since they don’t really do theatrical work, they referred the idea to Humanities Iowa. The other one-person shows I’ve done about historic Iowa figures have been part of the Humanities Iowa ‘Speaker Series’ for several years, so they contacted me.”

Here’s actor Tom Milligan portraying Iowa artist Grant Wood in an appearance in Jefferson in 2014 for the Greene County Historical Society.

Milligan said he grew up hearing about Darling’s work as a cartoonist at the Des Moines Register. 

“A whole lot of school classes made field trips to the Register back when I was a kid, and we all learned about the newspaper’s cartoonists,” he said. “Ding Darling was certainly famous in Iowa for that, but I got a whole new appreciation for him when I researched his life for this play.  His work as a conservationist was just as important, maybe moreso, as his cartooning and other artwork.”

The play is being sponsored here by the Greene County Historical Society, with assistance from Humanities Iowa.

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