Illinois Wesleyan University's Wilder Field was built with Works Progress Administration (WPA) labor and materials, the largest of the Depression-era New Deal federal work projects. The football complex is now known as Wilder Field at Tucci Stadium.
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.
On February 11, 1953, Illinois Wesleyan beat visiting Illinois State Normal 98-66 at the old Memorial Hall gymnasium (now IWU’s Hansen Student Center).
Five BHS swimmers prepare for the Big 12 Conference meet in Peoria in this mid-February 1953 scene. Left to right: Peter Whitmer, Hal Johnstone, Ray Baxter, Chuck Dunbar, and Adlai Rust, Jr.
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.
We don’t know why this photograph was taken, or why it never appeared in the newspaper. We don’t even know the bowling alley Ms. Schulz is patronizing. Can anyone out there help clue us in?
Gene Durham (22) of Saybrook-Arrowsmith High attempts a layup during the 1959 county tournament championship game. Attempting to thwart the layup is Bill Hutson (20) of Octavia, the consolidated high school in Colfax (the school is known as Ridgeview today). Octavia won 66-58 for its third county title in three years.
Hockey players Carson, Bower, Smith, Rasmussen, Walsh, and Redman play hockey on Angler's Lake, one of several old play pits. The club has since disbanded.
This aerial view, looking north, shows the ISNU Quad in 1941.
Here’s Gridley High School Coach readying his varsity squad for the 1953 McLean County Basketball Tournament.
The Pontiac Holiday Tournament is the nation’s oldest such Christmastime classic. Seen here are University High School’s Jim Barnes (#12) and Ted Smith (#8).
Illinois State Normal and Illinois Wesleyan universities were bitter gridiron rivals going all the way back to 1887. Seen here is an unidentified Wesleyan runner getting by ISNU defender Edward Lesnick (#13).
Led by Bruce Taylor Donald Biefeldt, the Anchor High Aces finished the 1945-1946 season as the Colfax District champions before losing to Gridley.
Seen here is local boy Bob Lemme, Bloomington Junior Legion ballplayer, with Cubs right fielder Bill “Swish” Nicholson, one of his favorite players.
Not much is known about this photograph. We do know that at least four of the five women shown here were working at Paul F. Beich Co., the local candy maker, at the time.
Back in the early 20th century baseball was not only the National Pastime but the National Obsession. At this time even tiny communities such as Cooksville fielded competitive teams—though it’s possible this club included a “ringer” or two from elsewhere!