From 1901 to 1939, Bloomington was home to the Bloomers of the Illinois-Indiana-Iowa League. Here’s Len Backer, Waterloo Red Hawks skipper, protesting a call at long-gone Fans Field, the Bloomers home park. That’s Waterloo backstop Clyde Chell on the right. The Red Hawks beat the Bloomers this night 5-1.
The Illinois Wesleyan legend is seen here as a promising freshman guard. A native of Anchor, a small village in eastern McLean County, Bridges would go on to coach the men’s team for 36 seasons, leading the Titans to a NCAA Division III national championship in 1997. He retired as the university’s athletic director in 2015.
On February 10, 1942, new University of Illinois head football coach Ray Eliot (that’s Eliot with one “L”) addressed the Young Men’s Club at the Illinois Hotel in downtown Bloomington. Eliot would go on to lead the Illini for 18 seasons, winning 3 Big Ten titles and 2 Rose Bowls.
Spring training for Major League Baseball clubs began this week. In this early March 1942 scene on the Illinois Wesleyan University campus (that’s still-standing Memorial Hall) senior catcher Hugh Dickie (with bat) plays a little “pepper” with teammates (left to right) Berthyl Brigham, Walter Wadington, Jim Fletcher, and Ralph Zeitz.
Way back on December 8, 1940, Pantagraph sports editor Fred “Brick” Young was the field judge in the Chicago Bears 73-0 whopping of Washington in the league’s championship game (the Super Bowl debuted in 1967).
The Rockets were an informal team connected to the Twin-City Recreation Center, 318 S. Main St., Bloomington. They played games Friday night at the old Jefferson School. Reggie Whittaker (far left) was the head coach, and Willy Tripp (far right) his assistant.