The name Ned Skeldon invokes smiles on the faces of Toledoans even today. Ned passed away several years ago, but his energy, innovations and passion for Toledo still remain fresh in the minds of many. Ned was special; he believed in Toledo and its citizens and workforce. He knew the potential of our great city.
During his professional career he spent many of his waking hours thinking of inventive ways to put our city on the map and make it an outstanding place to live. Ned saw things that others did not; he was a man who had the ability to envision a better life in Toledo for all of us.
Mud Hens Arrive
In 1965, Ned thought it would be a great idea to bring minor league baseball back to Toledo at the Lucas County Recreation Center. Many people thought this was foolish, asking what impact it could possibly have on our community.
Ned thought bringing the Mud Hens back to Toledo would benefit our community on many levels and was sure that creating family entertainment was vital to our area’s growth. He believed the economics of minor league baseball would create jobs, bring additional tourism to the city and also develop ancillary businesses to coincide with the Mud Hens baseball team. The Mud Hens returned but he was criticized for this.
He hired Gene Cook as GM of the Hens, and, later, Cook hired Joe Napoli as assistant GM. We all know how those hires turned out. These two men along with Ned have forever changed the paradigm of our Toledo sports landscape in the most positive fashion.
Without Ned Skeldon’s vision and insight there would be no Mud Hens Fifth Third Field, the best Triple-A stadium in all of minor league baseball. The Mud Hens’ move downtown has been a linchpin in our city center’s resurgence.
Ned also brought semi-pro football back to Toledo with the incredible success of the Toledo Tornadoes. He created the Lucas County pools and acquired Centennial and Whitehouse Quarries for more family entertainment, which also created thousands of jobs for high school and college kids in the Toledo area.
Swimming the Maumee
When the Maumee River was declared biologically dead in the 1960s, Ned knew we desperately needed to preserve and maintain the waterway for a myriad of reasons, including the quality of life and economics. Ned decided to form a company called Clearwater Incorporated to rehabilitate the Maumee.
In 1973 Ned swam the Maumee in a unique publicity promotion that brought out thousands of people to the banks of the river. After his swim, Ned got to the other side and drank a glass of water from the river. By 1978 the Maumee River had been cleaned up and boating and fishing industries had returned. Today the walleye fishing industry is one of the best in the world and it has become a tremendous source of revenue for our area.
Ned Skeldon was a man of unlimited ideas, clear futuristic vision and one who truly believed in Toledo and its citizens. He was one of the great visionaries in the history of the City of Toledo.
Full disclosure: Ned was like a second father to me all my life.
He even introduced me to my wife, Karen, saying, “I think you two would make a great couple.” Forty-two years of marriage later, Ned, again, was spot on. )