Kimberley lost a great person on Saturday, August 28 with the passing of Bob “Nizer” James. Two words that would best describe Nizer would be amazing and nice.
Bob was born in Kimberley on June 8th, 1947, lived his whole life in town, except for his time in Spokane Washington at Gonzaga University, where he captained their hockey team, and at Simon Fraser University, where he again was captain of their hockey team. Nizer and I shared a house in Spokane for the school year of 1970. Nizer James began his hockey career here in Kimberley as a winning member of the British Columbia Juvenile championship team, under the coaching of Gerry Barre in 1964.
After College, Nize returned to Kimberley taking on a management position with Cominco , working with his Dad, Sparky James. Nizer was on the Executive of the Kimberley Dynamiters when they won the Allan Cup in 1978. If memory serves, he was the President of the Nitros.
BOB “NIZER” JAMES THE AWESOME BASEBALL PLAYER
Nize was just a terrific catcher for our baseball team. He called a very savvy game, and had a gun for an arm. Hitting? I would put him right up there with Bobby Neale, as the best in town. I would include Danny Sullivan in there as well. When baseball petered out here fastball became the game of choice. Bob James caught for Mike Duval and Brian Crowe for many years. Nizer could have had a career in pro baseball as a catcher, his only flaw was he ran like there was a fridge on his back.
BOB JAMES POOL SHARK
In Spokane we were able to buy groceries with the money Nizer made hustling pool at the Bubble Inn. The owners John and Mary Glass treated Bob like a son. What was amazing about his time at Gonzaga, Nize actually got really decent marks, even during the hockey season. The guy had a photographic memory.
Our house was heated by coal. At minus 25 C we could only go to the coal yard on Sunday night to buy boxes of coal from the Security Guard that Nizer somehow knew. We were poor but life was a ball. Hockey, hockey parties and getting Nizer up for class. At Gonzaga University, the most popular guy on Campus was Bob James. The student body all went to the hockey games, and Nizer James was by far their best player, plus he was just such a nice guy, and could remember everyones name, it was mind boggling.
SPRING BREAK IN SAN FRANCISCO
Nizer absolutely loved music, introducing me to the Buffalo Springfield and the Bee Gees. We drove to the Bay Area to see Santana. Trouble was we had no money. We crashed in the car, fluked two tickets, and by the next morning, we were hungry and broke. .Not to worry Nizer picked up the Oakland Tribune for 10 cents and spotted it right away The Detroit Red Wings and Gordie Howe were playing that evening against the Californiaa Golden Seals. Nizer being Nizer knew the trainer Lefty Wilson ( At least he knew his name ) I called up the rink, found out Detroit was staying at the Oakland Hilton, we rang up Lefty , told him we were from Kimberley BC and were friends of Gordie’s cousins the Lytle family, and we wanted to go to the game but just blew our money on Santana. Lefy said in a gruff voice that he would talk to Gordie and see what he could do. Last words “Check will call at 7 p..m.” We did and there were two awesome tickets directly behind the Detroit bench. At the end of the first period Gordie and Alex Delvecchio made a bee line for us, shook our hands and had a quick chat.
By the way we phoned our parents from San Fran, they wired us money and we were off for Spokane. I would be remiss if I did not mention Bob Jame’s good pals here in Kimberley; Jim Boots Boudreau, Michael Jones, Donald Jones, Jet Broadhurst, Dennis Schick, Rokee, Butch Kek,. Bobby Neale.,, Puffer Muir., Carr Coldwell, Bernie Redisky, Gerry Carter, Colin Patterson, Brick Teeth, Mike Duval, Larry Musser, Buschy Russell, Freddy Trimmer, the entire 1978 Kimberley Dynamiter Allan Cup Winning Team, the 1964 Kimberley Juveniles Hockey Team and Bobby James very best friend Danny “ Sully “ Sullivan. Pardon me if I have missed anyone. Chalk it up to old age I guess.
Last but not least, we were playing Trail in baseball They called it the “ Kootenay Bowl”. Alan Fabro was our playing coach. In the bottom of the 9th inning in Rossland, I was on 2nd base put in a as a pinch runner. Nizer fouled off about 7 pitches from their lefty chucker Dennis Zinnio, before Nize drilled a single to center field, and I chugged home with the winning run. So very typical of Nizer James, cool calm and collected with the game on the line, never choked always delivered. If Bobby “ Nizer “ James was your friend, you were a fortunate person. Love you, Brother.