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.
|Dawdy Hawkins |
"Dawdy" Hawkins, one of the most successful high school basketball coaches in the nation, directed his teams to state titles in two different states. His Lincoln Northeast High School team won a Nebraska state prep crown in 1948, just before he left to take over at Peoria Central. He quickly forged a powerhouse at Central, his 1952-53 team, led by brilliant center Hiles Stout, making it to the championship game of the Illinois state finals at the University of Illinois' old Huff Gym before bowing to LaGrange, 71-60. Hawkins took three other Peoria Central teams to the state tournament (1954, 56, 59) and then, switching to Pekin, had five other state appearances (1964, 65, 66, 67, 73), including state championship teams in 1964 and 1967.