Inductees Dick Baxter, a successful three-sport coach at Peoria Manual High School, was responsible for originating the Illinois State High School Baseball Tournament and made Peoria the home of that tournament for the first 40 years of its existence.
He coached football, basketball, and baseball at Manual in an era when many coaches handled that tremendous load as a matter of course. Baxter was a winner in all three sports as his teams became powers.
He was Manual's premier coach from 1935 through the 1944 season, and it was in 1940 that he came up with a plan for a statewide prep baseball tournament.
The first tournament was put together solely by Baxter, although the Illinois High School Association gave its blessing. That first one drew 64 entrants and eight sectional winners came to Peoria to play for the state title. The finalists were Pekin, Fairbury, Princeville, Bloomington, Champaign, Bluffs, Belleville and Streator. Belleville defeated Champaign to win the first state title.
The IHSA took over the tournament the next year. It became a fixture on the Peoria sports scene until it was moved to Springfield for the 1980 tournament after that city refurbished its ballpark.
Dick Baxter, a successful three-sport coach at Peoria Manual High School, was responsible for originating the Illinois State High School Baseball Tournament and made Peoria the home of that tournament for the first 40 years of its existence.
|1996-97 Manual Boy's Basketball Team|
Manual completed its amazing and unprecedented four-year run of IHSA Class AA Basketball Tournament Championships at Peoria’s Carver Arena. After defeating Thornton of Harvey in the two previous championship tilts, the Rams downed the previously undefeated Wildcats 65-62, in an epic semifinal matchup. Manual then defeated West Aurora, 47-43 for the title. They finished the season as the number one ranked team in the nation by the USA Today. The Rams posted a 31-1 record, losing only to Chicago Carver when All-State and McDonald’s All-America selection, Marcus Griffin was sidelined with an injury. The Rams completed the “Four-Peat” era with a combined record of 121-11 and a perfect 32-0 record in Class AA State Tournament competition. Sergio McClain, a starter for all four of the championship teams, was selected Mr. Basketball by coaches and media throughout the state.