Inductees No Bradley baseball player ever swung the bat with more efficiency than Joe Napoli.
The long-time Peoria lawyer, who came to Peoria on a baseball scholarship out of the U.S. Air Force in 1957, not only won the only NCAA Division I batting championship ever produced by a Brave player, but he swung a torrid bat throughout his three year varsity career.
Napoli, an infielder, hit .396 in his sophomore year in a 14-6 season for Bradley that was good enough for a second place finish in the Missouri Valley Conference East.
He followed this with a .329 mark as a junior as Bradley went 19-5 and first place in the MVC East.
Then, in 1960, Napoli produced his finest year, hitting .490 to lead BU to a 13-2 season and a second place finish in the MVC East. He led Bradley in hits, batting average, doubles, runs batted in and total bases.
The .490 average led all NCAA Division I players in 1960 and gave BU its only national bat title.
His .392 lifetime bat mark still leads all Bradley players who have played at least 50 games. He had just 17 strikeouts in his three years.
Longtime BU coach Leo Schrall said that Napoli was “among the first collegiate players that he coached that had major league talent.”
Offered a tryout with the San Francisco Giants, Napoli decided to attend law school.
Napoli was co-founder of the Bradley Chief Club and as a sports agent worked with many Bradley athletes, including Steve Kuberski, Roger Phegley, Al Smith, David Thirdkill, Mitchell Anderson, Mike Williams, Hersey Hawkins, Donald Reese and Marcus Pollard.
No Bradley baseball player ever swung the bat with more efficiency than Joe Napoli.
Larry Leitner was among the state's elite officials for more than 40 years, officiating high school, college and professional sporting events from 1960 through 2003 and he remains involved in sports by serving on the board of directors for the Pekin Insurance Holiday Tournament, as well as evaluating current officials and moderating IHSA rules clinics.
Among his officiating highlights, Leitner worked more IHSA basketball and football tournament games than any official in the state's history, earning 27 consecutive boys basketball regional assignments. He also worked the IHSA boys basketball state finals in 1973, 1974 and 1976, including the 1976 championship game, and three IHSA football finals, including the first-ever 2A state championship game in 1974. A charter member of the Gateway Conference officiating crew in 1988, Leitner was part of the crew that officiated the 1990 and 1993 NCAA Division I-AA quarterfinals and he served as an associate official for the Big Ten Conference from 1984-88.
Leitner also was called upon to officiate two IESA state championship games, the 1990 National Catholic Basketball finals, three Shriner All-Star football games and the 1980 IBCA All-Star Classic, while also working for two seasons in the Midwest Professional Football League.
Leitner is a member of the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association, Peoria Officials and Bloomington/Normal Officials Halls of Fame.