There is something very special about being the first to accomplish a goal that had never been done before. In June of 1962, little Minooka High School went to state in baseball. No other school from this immediate area could lay claim to that fact. That was done under the IHSA one class system.
From a larger area, Streator had gone to state in 1940, 41, 51 and 1963. The Bulldogs finished in second place in 1942. St. Bede played at State in 1944, 46, 65 and 67. The Bruins won the Class A State title in 1988, under the two-class system and played again in the Class A tourney.
Braidwood won the state title in 1985 in class A. Gardner-South Wilmington played at state in 1993 in the A classification. Seneca was a participant in 1994 and 1997.
Wilmington won two firsts (Class A in 2003 and 2005) and a second in 2004.
Coal City traveled to state competition in 2002 in Class A and again in 2008 when a four-class system started.
Morris played at State in 1992 and was second in 1993 under the two-class system. The Redskins won the Class AA title in 1995.
The Joliet area schools have had many participants over the years, but I'm writing about immediate schools in this area. In 1977 the IHSA split into two classifications. In 1989, the third place game was played for the first time. In 2008, the four-class system was used for the first time.
But 1962 was special in this area, because Minooka ventured to state in a one-class system and lost in first round to much larger LaGrange team, who ended up finishing in second place.
Minooka’s journey to state started in the District Tournament by edging Wilmington 2-1 in eight innings in the first game of the IHSA-sponsored contest. The two teams were scoreless until the top of the seventh inning. Wilmington scored first, but Minooka countered with a run in the bottom half of the inning, when Don Davidison scored from second base on a hit by Allan Dorick.
The winning tally came in the bottom of the eighth, when Rick Offerman tripled, followed by two intentional passes. Davidson slapped out a single and the winning run crossed the plate for the Indians.
Don Davidson was the winning pitcher, allowing five hits while striking out six.
Next up for the Indians was arch rival Morris for the district championship at Minooka High School.
Minooka blanked Morris 4-0, as Charlie Karr was the winning pitcher, allowing only three hits.
Dave Harper had two hits for the Redskins, while Jack Ragan singled for the other hit. The Indians scored one run in the first and fourth frames and two in the second inning. Tom Williamson crossed the plate twice, while Karr and Dorick each scored once. Dorick had a triple, while Dave Seeders doubled for Minooka.
Bruce Smith took the loss for Morris. Minooka advanced to the Streator Regional with the district title.
The Indians walloped Coal City 11-0 to win the the regional championship. The Coalers were the defending regional champs,but in 1962, Minooka ruled the roost. Minooka racked up five runs in the first inning, four in the second and two more in the fifth, automatically ending the game because of the ten-run rule. Seeders, Williamson, Offerman, Korelc and Dorick all had two hits apiece.
Offerman hit a home run over the left field fence, which by the way, ended the game.
Keith Flatness and Dorick each had doubles. Charlie Karr was the master on the mound, allowing only two hits for the Indians (singles by Jisa and B. Wills). Minooka had 13 hits off three Coaler hurlers (Hanfeld, Jisa and Washburn).
At the St.Bede Sectional Tourney, Minooka edged Moline 2-1 in eight innings in the opening game. Don Davidson walked three, fanned 10 and allowed only three hits, boosting his record to 12-4 for the year. Minooka as a team was 15-6. Minooka trailed going into the bottom of the seventh inning 1-0, when Korelc singled Williamson home with the tying run.
In the eighth inning, Davidson walked and was on base when Seeders bunted a dribbler to shortstop, who threw wildly to second base with Davison scored the winning run to the pleasure of 150 Minooka fans in attendance at St. Bede. Minooka third baseman Wayne Greenbeck had a double.
The Indians continued their magical season by beating Bloomington Trinity 7-1 to capture the St. Bede Sectional championship and a trip to the State Finals in Peoria. Big 6-4 Davidson continued his mastery on the mound for the Indians, allowing only one hit and striking out eight, but he did walk eight batters in the win. Minooka scored all seven runs in the sixth inning.
Larry Korelc, Minooka’s catcher, had three hits and Davidson had two for the winning Indians.
Minooka’s youthful head coach Norm Miller said it was ”Like a boyhood dream come true.”
Later he added ”Almost anything can happen in baseball.”
Following the victory, the Indians were presented the sectional plaque and they left for home accompanied by two buses of excited students who made the trip.
At the outskirts of Morris, a car caravan joined the champions and led the victory march into Minooka. The victory celebration was underway.
Only three runs have been scored against the Indians through the sectional final.
At the state tournament, Minooka was up 16-6 against a much larger LaGrange school. Minooka was the smallest school in the eight-team field.
LaGrange ended the Cinderella story by scoring six runs in the second inning.
The Lions added three more runs in the third inning and this game was history. Minooka scored its lone run in the fourth frame on a single by Keith Flatness who scored when Alan Dorick cracked a single to right field.
Ric Offerman had two hits in the loss for Minooka. Davidson suffered the loss for the Indians and he had relief help from Chuck Karr.
LaGrange finished the game with nine runs on eight hits, while Minooka managed one run on four hits.
Offerman and Flatness were the only seniors on the team. Members of the team were; Wayne Greenbeck, Dick Clark, Dave Seeder, Tom Williamson, Dave Brown, Alan Dorick, Doug Sitzes, Dick Coyne, Larry Korelc, Don Davidson, Chuck Karr, Mark Offerman, Keith Flatness, Ric Offerman, Don Williamson and Dave Peterson. Joseph Findlay, Dan Friant and Ralph Siron were team managers. The Head Coach was Norm Miller.
One of the most memorable sports happenings in this area.