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)
NOTE: This is posted on June 13th, 52 years after his death.
Richard Wendell Reichle was born in Lincoln, Illinois, on November 23, 1896, to George and Anna. His family resided on a farm in Logan County in Illinois after immigrating over from Germany. He had three sisters and a brother that all worked on the farm along with a servant named Samuel.
Dick graduated from Lincoln High and went on to the University of Illinois where he played baseball and football. He was part of the 1921 championship baseball team in 1921. He did have some time away and he served in World War I. After his graduation from college, it didn’t take long before his baseball talent was discovered and signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers on June 7th.
He began in the lower levels by playing first base in the Three-I League (Iowa, Illinois, Indiana) and hit .337 with six homers and 11 stolen bases in 93 games. He was brought up, thanks to scout Mike Donlin’s insistence, to the Brooklyn team on August 17th. He made his major league debut on September 19th in the first game of a doubleheader.
He went 0-for-4 in the contest but got two hits the next day and a double the game following. He batted .250 in six games before the season ended. He had no errors in those games. In 1923, he became the regular center fielder and on May 18th drove in three runs with a triple and a double. He had another game where he was 4-for-5 and knocked in two runs.
During the offseason, he played in the National Football League in six contests at the end position (he was named 2nd team all NFL pros by Colliers Magazine) and in 1924 he played for the San Antonio Bears. However, he broke his leg at Spring Training and it appeared to heal quickly but his baseball abilities appeared to diminish. He retired in 1925.
Not content to lie around during the winter reflecting on a good first season of major-league baseball, Reichle trained with the Milwaukee Badgers of the National Football League and played as an end in six of the team’s games, one of the few men to play both baseball and football at the highest level of play.
Reichle lived his retirement years in the St. Louis area with his wife and three children until his death on June 13, 1967.
Check out more Central Illinois biographies HERE.