Tim Hulett- Born in Springfield- Major Leaguer from 1983-1995

Tim Hulett- Born in Springfield- Major Leaguer from 1983-1995

Central Illinois has had many major league baseball players in history. Let’s look at them from the 12 counties that we have selected to become Central Illinois. (Logan, McLean, DeWitt, Woodford, Fulton, Peoria, Mason, Tazewell, Cass, Morgan, Menard, Sangamon).

 

Tim Hulett- Born in Springfield

 

Timothy Craig Hulett, Sr. (born January 12, 1960) is the head baseball coach at Evangel Christian Academy in Shreveport, Louisiana. He was the manager for the Minor League Baseball Spokane Indians in the Texas Rangers organization for 10 years and prior to that, he was a professional baseball infielder in the major leagues from 1983-1995. He played for the Chicago White Sox, Baltimore Orioles, and St. Louis Cardinals.

In 1978, he was draft directly from high school where he attended Lanphier in Springfield, Il. He went to South Florida and played for the Bulls and then transferred to Miami Dade College North Campus. In 1980, the White Sox selected him in the secondary phase of the draft. In 1983, he made his major league debut on September 15th. He got his first hit on September 21st as he finished the season playing in six games with five at-bats and one single. He continued with the White Sox for several seasons with 1985 being his best year statistically. In 1986, he played 150 games for the Sox.

In 1988, he was traded to the Expos and was released soon after then he was with the Baltimore Orioles through 1994. In 1995, he signed as a free agent with the St. Louis Cardinals and played in 4 games where he was 2-for-11 before he was released. He continued in baseball as an assistant coach for Evangel Christian Academy in Shreveport, LA and led them to five state titles. He stayed in baseball as a manager in the minor leagues beginning in 2007 and was named Northwest League Manager of the Year in 2010. Recently, he was the manager of the Philippines national baseball team in the 2017 World Baseball Classic.

He is currently the head baseball coach at Evangel Christian Academy in Shreveport, LA where his assistant coaches are Tug Hulett, Joe Hulett, Jeff Hulett.

 

 

 

Dutch Leonard- Born in Auburn, IL- Great Lesson Learned from Hack Wilson

Dutch Leonard- Born in Auburn, IL- Great Lesson Learned from Hack Wilson

Born in Central Illinois Major Leaguers

He was born Emil John Leonard on March 25, 1909, in Auburn, Illinois to Emil and Julia Leonard. The story goes that he got the nickname from an earlier baseball player named Dutch. Leonard was a high school star in basketball and football as the school didn’t offer baseball. In the summers, “Dutch” would play on the sandlots and with semipro teams as he had an overpowering fastball.

His father was a coal miner and continually urged his son to find a better way to make a living. Emil didn’t listen, at first, as he went to work in the coal mines. That lasted three days and he knew his father knew what he was talking about. He took a different job digging ditches for the electric company in the Chicago area where he began pitching for the company team.

He was noticed for his abilities on the baseball field by the Evanston News Index and they hired him to play baseball and in 1929, the company was the city champions. Leonard had outdueled a former major leaguer in Hippo Jim Vaughn. He began to play professional baseball fulltime in 1930 as he bounced around several minor leagues teams for the next four seasons. He got a bit tired of that and went home and got a job driving a truck.

In the spring of 1933, he signed to pitch in Class A New York Penn League and went 12-15 and received the noticed of the Brooklyn Dodgers. They paid him $800 and gave him a 10-day trial. He made his major league debut on August 31 as he entered the game in relief with his team down 6-0 to the St. Louis Cardinals. He faced bases loaded and two out and proceeded to keep the Cardinals scoreless until the seventh inning. His debut was a success. The team liked what they saw and advised him to use his knuckleball more often. He ended with a 2-3 record and a 2.93 ERA.

The Dodgers assigned him in 1934 to room with their fading star Hack Wilson. Hack had many National League records o his name but was having trouble staying away from the booze. One night Wilson demanded that Leonard join his for a drink. They went to the bar and got their drinks when Wilson smacked the bottle out of Leonard’s hand and told him to stay away from booze so that he didn’t end up like Hack Wilson.

The seasons and teams flow by from there for “Dutch” as he bounced around with an array of success and failure. In 1950, he had become the oldest player in the National League at the age of 41. He had been mostly relegated to the bullpen but the Cubs gave him a job as pitching coach but was fired in 1956 with all of the miserable coaches of the Chicago Cubs.

After baseball, he became a counselor with the Illinois Youth Commission. He conducted baseball camps for rehabilitation youth. He retired at age 65. On April 17, 1983, Leonard died and is buried near his hometown of Auburn. He left behind his wife of almost 49, Rose, and two sons and one daughter.

In Summation:

Emil John “Dutch” Leonard (March 25, 1909 – April 17, 1983) was a professional baseball player. He played in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a right-handed knuckleball pitcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers (1933–36), Washington Senators (1938–46), Philadelphia Phillies (1947–48), and Chicago Cubs (1949–53).

 

Tim Hendryx- Born in LeRoy, Illinois

Tim Hendryx- Born in LeRoy, Illinois

Central Illinois has had many major league baseball players in history. Let’s look at them from the 12 counties that we have selected to become Central Illinois. (Logan, McLean, DeWitt, Woodford, Fulton, Peoria, Mason, Tazewell, Cass, Morgan, Menard, Sangamon).

 

Central Illinois Born Major Leaguers

 

Timothy Green Hendryx was born on January 31, 1891, in LeRoy, Illinois to William and Nancy Neeley Hendryx. He was the fourth of six children as Alva, Sarah and Cecil were older than Tim and Ettie and Louis came later. His father was a stonecutter and later on, his family moved to Mississippi.

Nothing has been reported about his days as a youth. However, beginning in 1911(age 20) he began to play professional baseball for the Yazoo City Zoos in the Cotton State League. He was primarily a third baseman but had the ability to fill in at other spots on the diamond. Late in the season he was spotted and signed by Cleveland scout Bob Gilks to finish the season with the Cleveland Naps. At this time of his career, he was 5’9″ and 170 lbs and was right-handed. He made his debut on September 4th as a pinch runner. He played in 4 games and had 2 hits in 7 at-bats along with one sacrifice hit.

He played sparingly in Cleveland the next year and spent most of the time suiting up for the New Orleans Pelicans where he also had several injuries. In 1913, he went to Birmingham and played in the outfield with “Shoeless” Joe Jackson and Jack Graney. He did well and hit .286 in 1914. His contract was purchased on August 15, 1915, by the New York Yankees where he played in 13 late-season games, hitting .200.

He bounced around from there for many seasons with no real baseball distinction. He also continued to have marital issues and history shows he had four wives in his lifetime. After baseball, he worked as a taxicab driver for Checker Cab and also was a painting contractor.

He died on August 14, 1957, in Corpus Christi, TX.

 

For More Biographies of Central Illinois Born Major Leaguers click HERE

 

Pop Dillon born in Normal – Holds Records and Baseball Book Author

Pop Dillon born in Normal – Holds Records and Baseball Book Author

Central Illinois has had many major league baseball players in history. Let’s look at them from the 12 counties that we have selected to become Central Illinois. (Logan, McLean, DeWitt, Woodford, Fulton, Peoria, Mason, Tazewell, Cass, Morgan, Menard, Sangamon)

 

 

Frank “Pop” Dillon -Born in Normal, Illinois

 

Frank “Pop” Dillon was born in Normal, Illinois to Levi and Mary Wright Dillon on October 17, 1873. His father owned and operated a business breeding and selling Percheron horses. At the time of his birth, the area around Bloomington-Normal was booming with canning and shipping of fruits and vegetables. This help establishes a solid income for the family.

 

 

His mom’s sisters family moved to the Normal area after the passing of the husband/dad and it was at the age of 8 that Frank met his cousin Clark and they immediately hit it off with their love of baseball. Dillon attended school in the local public education program and then attended Illinois State University in 1882. He became a right-handed thrower and a left-handed batter for the ISU Redbirds but primarily played in the outfield. He transferred to the University of Wisconsin where he played some football and became the second best pitcher on the baseball team. In 1894, he became their primary hurler and from there got some notice for professional baseball.

After the spring semester, he signed his first professional contract for the Peoria Distillers and played in 24 games and jumped to his hometown in Bloomington in 1895. Then he jumped around to Ottumwa and then Jacksonville. and back to Bloomington. By 1897, he was no longer a pitcher and was strictly an outfielder.

Things jumped to 1899 when he was purchased by the Pittsburgh Pirates on September 6 for $1500. He made his major league debut on September 8, 1899, and got two hits and scoring twice. He became a regular for the rest of the year. In the offseason, the team had a complete makeover of the roster and after five games in 1900, Dillon was released. He was signed a week later by the Detroit Tigers and hit .291 in 123 games.

He continued to play for them, however, in the offseason he came down with appendicitis and he came back only to be mired in a bad hitting slump. He got released and moved around to play for several teams with many of them in the minor leagues. It was in the California League that Dillon became a player-manager for Los Angeles. His team had a remarkable 133-78 record.

He played first base and continued to pinch hit for three more seasons. After the 1915 season, the club started looking for a new manager. Seeing the writing on the wall, Dillon retired in November. In nearly 2,200 minor league games he batted a respectable .295 with over 2,300 hits.

In 1889, Dillon married Blanche Ada Reitzell and they had no children. “Pop” became baseball coach at Occidental College after his major league retirement and then he bought an apple farm completely from the game of baseball. That is until 1924 when he became treasurer for the Association of Professional Ball Players of America. Dillon wrote a book titled, “How to Play Baseball and Inside Baseball.”

At the age of 57, he died on September 12, 1931, and is buried in Glendale, California.

 

Other Central Illinois bios are HERE 

 

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