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.
Before building a solid professional foundation in the Greater Peoria area that lead to his legendary career in sports broadcasting in the San Francisco Bay Area of California, Bill King actually gained his initial broadcasting experience with Armed Forces radio. He simulated live play-by-play accounts of games from information received over the wire. After WWII he began his professional broadcasting in Pekin, Illinois. Bill broadcasted high school games in Pekin and Peoria. He called his first minor league baseball game in 1948 in Peoria, at the age of 19, and went on to call Bradley University basketball and University of Nebraska football and basketball. Moving to the Bay Area in the late 1950s, King was hired by KSFO-AM as a fill-in broadcaster for the San Francisco Giants baseball games after the franchise moved from New York. A major turning point in his career occurred in 1962 when he landed the job as the play-by-play voice of the NBA’s San Francisco Warriors after the franchise moved from Philadelphia. (The team became the Golden State Warriors in 1971.) His stint with the Warriors lasted through the 1982-83 season. In 1966, King added the duties of Oakland Raiders play-by-play to his schedule, becoming one of the signature voices of the National Football League when the Raiders and the American Football League merged with the NFL in 1970. He called Raiders’ games through the 1992 season. Despite his already considerable workload for two professional teams, King was convinced to become the lead radio announcer for the Oakland A’s in 1981. He became a beloved and legendary broadcaster during his 25 years with the A’s. He was also considered quite the “character”. He was once responsible for the Warriors being assessed a technical foul after berating an NBA official. Among a very small and select group of announcers, Bill received championship rings from teams representing all three major sports. He received three Super Bowl rings (Raiders - NFL), one NBA Champion ring (Warriors), and one World Series ring (A’s – MLB). Some of his actual play-by-play calls can be heard in the movie, Moneyball, an account of the Oakland A’s season of 2002. His career sadly ended with his death in October of 2005. His partner for 13 years, Greg Papa, said about King, “Bill is without a doubt the best radio play-by-play announcer I have heard in all of sports. His energy, preparation, his thoroughness, his word choice—he is without peer.” Indeed, in 2017, the National Baseball Hall of Fame named King the 41st recipient (posthumously) of the Ford C. Frick Award, the highest honor for American baseball broadcasters. Among the many other tributes to his career are: 1) the naming of the radio booth at the Oakland Alameda County Coliseum, “Bill King Radio Booth” 2) the placement of a sign on the centerfield wall with King’s catchphrase, “Holy Toledo” in script font, that can be flashed on an A’s homerun or other “King worthy” play. 3) On Opening Night of the 2006 season, a video tribute was played on the coliseum’s large screen, and in lieu of the ceremonial first pitch, Bill King's chair, a baseball, and his headset were on the pitcher's mound. 4) His partner for the last 10 years of his career, Ken Korach, authored a biography about King, “Holy Toledo – Lessons from Bill King: Renaissance Man of the Mic.”