Illinois' all-time baseball team is unique for at least two reasons: It features eight Hall of Famers, including three from the Nokomis area. And a ninth, Jim Thome, a designated hitter who has hit more than 600 homers, will likely punch a ticket to Cooperstown after he finally retires.The infield is set with Jim Bottomley at first, Red Schoendienst at second, Lou Boudreau at shortstop and Freddie Lindstrom at third. Kirby Puckett is one outfielder, Ray Schalk is the catcher and Red Ruffing and Robin Roberts are the starting pitchers.That was easy, right?Well, not really. Ruffing and Roberts were chosen over another Hall of Famer, Joe McGinnity, from Cornwall Township in Henry County. He won 246 games and had an ERA of 2.66 in 10 seasons from 1899 to 1908. He had seven 20-win seasons and two 30-win seasons. He pitched the Giants to the World Series championship in 1905.Nicknamed "Iron Man" because he once worked in an iron foundry, his nickname came to convey his longevity and durability. He routinely pitched in both games of doubleheaders and is said to have won more than 500 games in his professional career. He pitched his last game at age 52. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 1946.So there are nine virtual locks on Illinois' all-time team. What about the other two outfield positions?It is difficult not to include Greg Luzinski in one outfield spot. A graduate of Niles Notre Dame, he made the phrase "Lu-Power" a household word among major league scouts who often compared future prospects to Luzinski's long-ball prowess.Luzinski, a 6-foot-1, 255-pounder, joined the White Sox after playing a key role in the Phillies' drive to the world championship in 1980. His two game-winning hits in the National League playoff series against the Astros paved the way for their World Series victory over the Royals. In 1983, he hit a then record 32 homers for a designated hitter.The other outfield post? One-time Cub Dave Kingman gets the nod, at least for the time being over rising star Curtis Granderson. Kingman hit 442 homers in his career. He is the first player to hit 400 or more homers without being inducted into the Hall of Fame.Here is Illinois' all-time team:Firstbase:Jim Bottomley, Nokomis: Described as "the best clutch hitter I ever saw" by one-time Cubs manager Frankie Frisch, Bottomley drove in 100 or more runs for six years in a row for the Cardinals. He set a major league record with 12 in one game. He was the National League's MVP in 1928.
Others: Ted Kluszewski, Argo; Phil Cavaretta, Lane Tech; Dave Bergman, Maine South; Scott Stahoviak, Carmel; Bill Skowron, Weber; Dave Christianson, Kennedy; Art Grzeskowiak, Morton East andRobert Jones, Proviso East.
Second base: Red Schoendienst, Germantown: A 10-time All-Star, he played 19 years with the Cardinals, Giants and Braves and managed the Cardinals from 1965 through 1976. A switch-hitter, he averaged .289 and had 2,449 hits in his career. He was a member of five World Series-winning teams as a player, manager and coach. His National League record, .9934 fielding average in 1956, stood for 30 years.Others: John Castino, New Trier; Jack Perconte, Joliet Catholic; Scott Spezio, Morris; Don Kolloway, Blue Island; Chuck Hiller, McHenry andMike Woodard, Proviso East. Third base: Freddie Lindstrom, Chicago (Loyola): After a tryout with the Cubs didn't pan out, he signed a contract with the Giants as a 16-year-old sophomore out of Loyola Academy. From 1924 to 1936, he had a .311 batting average. At 23, he hit .358. Two years later, he hit .379. In 1930, legendary Giants manager John McGraw ranked Lindstrom ninth among the top 20 players of the previous quarter centuryOthers: John Castino, New Trier; Joe Zdeb, Maine South; Joe Karmeris, Reavis; Ray Jablonski, Kelly; Doug Rader, Glenbrook North; Pete Mackanin, Brother Rice and Dave Wilhelmi, Joliet Catholic.Shortstop: Lou Boudreau, Harvey (Thornton): After leading Thornton's basketball team to the state high school championship game for three yearsin a row from 1933 to 1935, he starred in basketball and baseball at Illinois. He was an eight-timeAll-Star and was manager and American League MVP of the Indians' World Championship team in 1948. He won the American League batting title in 1944 with a .327 average.Others: Chico Walker, Tilden; Jim Walewander, Maine South; Jeff Jackson, Shawn Livsay, Simeon; Kelly Dransfeldt, Morris; Aaron Capista, Joliet Catholic; Sammy Esposito, Fenger; Dal Maxvill, Granite City; Ducky Schofield, Springfield andDick Schofield, Springfield.Outfield:Kirby Puckett, Chicago (Calumet): In a 12-year major league career,all with the Twins, he became the franchise's all-time leader in hits, runs, doubles and total bases. At the time of his retirement, his .318 batting average was the highest by any right-handed hitter in the American League since Joe DiMaggio. A 10-time all-star, he was the second player to record 2,000 hits during his first 10 years. He led the Twins to two world titles.Outfield: Greg Luzinski, Niles (Notre Dame): He played for the Phillies from 1970 to 1980 and for the White Sox from 1981 to 1984. He averaged .275 with 307 homers and 1,128 RBI. He was a four-time all-star. He was MVP runner-up in 1975 when he led the National League with 120 RBI and in 1977 when he posted career highs with a .309 batting average, 39 homers and 130 RBI.Outfield: Dave Kingman, Mount Prospect (Prospect): At 6-foot-6, he was recognized as one of the most feared sluggers of the 1970s and 1980s. From 1971 to 1986, he played with eight teams and accumulated 442 homers and 1,210 RBI. He led the National League in homers in 1979 and 1982, was a three-time all-star and was American League Comeback Player of the Year in 1984. His best season was in 1988 with the Cubs when he batted .288 with 48 homers, 115 RBI, 97 runs scored and a .613 slugging percentage.Others: Curtis Granderson, Thornton Fractional South; Larry Murray, Phillips; Brett Butler, Libertyville; Mike Marshall, Buffalo Grove; Jesse Barfield, Joliet Central; Brian Rosinski, Evanston; Ron Kittle, Gary (Ind.) Wirt; Rich Becker, West Aurora; Wes Chamberlain, Simeon; Les Filkins, Chicago Washington; Alex Rowell, North Chicago; Richard Coleman, Lane Tech; Eric Shellenbach, Barrington; Jesse Lucious, Rich East; Keith Thomas, Kenwood; Mark Doran, Thornwood; Bo Flowers, Walther Lutheran; Jim Aducci, Brother Rice; Hank Bauer, East St. Louis; Jody Gerut, Willowbrook; Johnny Groth, Chicago Latin; Frankie Gustine, Hoopeston; Del Unser, Decatur; Jayson Werth, Chatham Glenwood; Johnny Wyrostek, East St. Louis and Dick Wakefield, Chicago. Catcher:Ray Schalk, Nokomis: A defensive standout for the White Sox, he led the league in fielding percentage eight times and putouts nine times. He was the first to catch four no-hit games. His record of 30 stolen bases by a watcher in 1916 stood for 66 years.Others: Tom Haller, Lockport; Dan Wilson, Barrington; Jeff Reed, Joliet est; Erik Pappas, Mount Carmel; Todd Hundley, Fremd; Bob Cummings, Brother ice; Phil Masi, Austin; Ray Fosse, Marion; Gene Lamont, Kirkland Hiawatha; Mke Uremovich, Waukegan; Robert Triplett, Phillips; Nick Trzesnick, Andrew; Harry Chiti, Kincaid; Bruce Edwards, Quincy; Jim Sundberg, Galesburg and Joe Gerardi, Peoria Spalding.Pitcher: Red Ruffing, Nokomis: A one-time outfielder, he became a pitcher after losing four toes on his left foot in a mine accident as a youngster. He won 273 games in his career, won seven of nine World Series decisions for the Yankees, was instrumental in seven pennant winners and won 20 or more games from 1936 to 1939.Pitcher:Robin Roberts, Springfield (Lanphier): In an 18-year career, mostly with the Phillies, he won 286 games and had an ERA of 3.41 with 2,357 strikeouts. In 1950, he led the Phillies to their first National League pennant in 35 years. He was the Phillies' first 20-game winner since Grover Cleveland Alexander in 1917. He was a seven-time all-star and two-time National League Pitcher of the Year. He won 28 games in 1952.Others: Bill Gullickson, Mark Grant, Mike Grace, Joliet Catholic; Steve Trout, Mark Mulder, Thornwood; Denny McLain, Mount Carmel; Jim Bouton, Bloom; Paul Splittorf, Fritz Peterson, Arlington; Scott Sanderson, Glenbrook North; Jim Clancy, Ed Farmer, St. Rita; Bob Kipper, Aurora Central Catholic; Kevin Foster, Evanston; John Ericks, Chicago Christian; Marvin Freeman, Vocational; Charlie Leibrandt, Loyola; Dan Schatzeder, Willowbrook; Byron Von Hoff, Batavia; Jim O'Toole, Leo; Scott Jones, Hinsdale South; Jeff Scott, Kankakee Eastridge; Larry Monroe, Forest View; Tom Brennan, Oak Lawn; Dave Otto, Elk Grove; Don Schulze, Lake Park; Ben Shelton, Scott Nelson, Oak Park; Brian DuBois, Reed-Custer; Jim Caine, St. Charles; Kris Honel, Providence; Mike Bowden, Waubonsie Valley; Buzz Capra, Lane Tech; Jason Frasor, Oak Forest; Tom Gorzelanny, Marist; Warren Hacker, Marissa; Bob Turley, Troy; Dutch Leonard, Auburn; Rick Reuschel, Quincy; Don Stanhouse, Du Quoin; Johnny Ridney, Oak Park; Russ Meyer, Peru; Larry Gura, Joliet East and Joe McGinnity, Cornwall.Designated hitter: Jim Thome, Peoria (Limestone): He is the eighth player to hit more than 600 home runs in the major leagues. Widely considered as a future Hall of Famer, He has played for seven teams since 1991. A five-time All-Star, he has more than 2,200 hits and 1,600 RBI in his career. He hit a career high of 52 homers in 2002.Others: Cliff Floyd, Thornwood; Curtis Parham, Thornridge; Jim Dwyer, Brother Rice.