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!
Seen here are 1909 graduates from Cooksville, a small community some fifteen miles northeast of Normal. Left to right, beginning with the top row, are Grace Fossett, Ethel Wright, Eddie Manning, Merle Douglass, and Clarence Crumbaker.
McLean County’s smaller communities, including the Village of Cooksville, once fielded competitive baseball clubs that welcomed all comers. Costello & O’Malley’s (note the misspelling on the photo—Costello with an extra “T”) was a menswear store on the 300 block of Main Street in downtown Bloomington.
For many years the biggest sporting event on the local calendar was the McLean County Basketball Tournament, which began way back in 1911. During the years before school consolidation, 20 or more McLean County high schools outside of Bloomington-Normal would battle it out for bragging rights as the county’s small school champion.There were 11 schools vying for the 1966 tourney title. On January 21, Octavia beat Lexington in the championship game before a packed Horton Field House crowd on the Illinois State University campus.