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Eddie Jelen


Date and Place of Birth: 1911 Omaha, NE
Date and Place of Death:    April 8, 1945 Norfolk Naval Hospital, Norfolk, VA
Baseball Experience: Minor League
Position: Second Base
Rank: Lieutenant Junior Grade
Military Unit: US Navy
Area Served: United States

Edward J. “Eddie” Jelen, the son of police offer Quito "K.T." Jelen and Mary Jelen, was born in 1911 in Omaha, Nebraska. He graduated from Law School at Creighton University, where he played backfield and quarterback on the football team, and was regarded as one of the best defensive stars in the middle-west at the time. After college he played professional baseball with the Omaha Packers of the Class A Western League in 1933, and played 23 games at second base, hitting .325 with four doubles and two triples. Despite these good numbers he was released mid-July after the Packers’ regular second baseman, Carl Bouton, returned from an injury. He finished the year playing semi-pro ball for the Miller-Knuth Manufacturing Company baseball team in Omaha.

He remained a central figure in baseball in Omaha, and was one of the prime movers in Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium being built after Rourke Park burned to the ground in 1936.

On August 12, 1934, Jelen suffered a fracture at the base of his skull as a result of being hit in the head by a pitch. He was admitted to St. Joseph's Hospital in Omaha, where his condition at the time was described as critical. At the time, he was leading in his district for the democratic nomination for state senator.

Beginning in 1935, Jelen had served in the Nebraska Legislature, at which time he was the youngest member of the assembly, and for three years was assistant state employment supervisor for the WPA. He was a county commissioner five years, and served as board chairman four years. In March 1944, he took a leave of absence as county commissioner of the Douglas County Board to serve in the Navy. After receiving a commission, Lieutenant Junior Grade Jelen was put in charge of the armed guard aboard a merchant vessel. After being in the navy for a year, he tragically died of a kidney ailment on April 8, 1945, at the Norfolk Naval Hospital in Virginia. He was 33 years old, and survived by his wife, Jeanne, and two daughters, Barbara and Betty.

A service was held at Trinity cathedral for Jelen. Internment with full military honors took place at the Bohemian National Cemetery in Omaha, on April 13.














1933 Omaha Western A 23 83 20 27 4 2 0 0 .321


Eddie Jelen at Creighton University in 1933

Lt (jg) Edward J. Jelen's grave

Lt(jg) Edward J. Jelen's grave at Bohemian Cemetery in Omaha, Nebraska

Waterloo Daily Courier, March 22, 1932
Hutchinson News, June 10, 1933
Hutchinson News, July 15, 1933
Nebraska State Journal August 16, 1934
Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, August 29, 1940
Lincoln Star, April 6, 1945
Nebraska State Journal, April 14, 1945

Thanks to Astrid van Erp, for help with photos for this biography.

Date Added August 10, 2013 Updated December 17, 2019

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