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Columns

Column: When softball was the fall sport at Plano High School

A 1930s era Plano High School indoor baseball team: In the back row are, from left to rligth: Coach Clark, Robert Phillips, Sumner Walker, Russell Mall, John Chilton, Howard Johns, Lyle Darnell. Front row, left to right: Duane Eggleston, Robert Krahenbuhl, Melvin Hansen, Jim Sears, Budd Steelglove, Donald Sampson, Billy McVicker
A 1930s era Plano High School indoor baseball team: In the back row are, from left to rligth: Coach Clark, Robert Phillips, Sumner Walker, Russell Mall, John Chilton, Howard Johns, Lyle Darnell. Front row, left to right: Duane Eggleston, Robert Krahenbuhl, Melvin Hansen, Jim Sears, Budd Steelglove, Donald Sampson, Billy McVicker

After a number of injuries during the 1935 season, football was dropped at Plano High School. Softball was the fall sport for several years before football was re-introduced in the fall of 1940. There was ample opportunity for competition, as a number of Little 10 teams (of which Plano was a member) fielded boys softball teams in the fall.

That was not the first time PHS boys played softball instead of football in the fall. In various years in the early 1900’s after football had been dropped, Plano fielded an “indoor baseball” team. Indoor baseball had been invented in 1887 by George Hancock at the Farragut Boat Club of Chicago.

As far back as 1896, PHS played indoor baseball. However, from 1897 thru 1908 Plano played football. It is not known by the author when indoor baseball resumed as the fall sport. Also, it is doubtful indoor baseball was truly “indoor” at PHS, as the Old North School (which was a high school, in addition to elementary school until 1926) had no gym.

The fall 1920 PHS team played two games, beating Hinckley 14-12 and Leland 6-2. Steve Batorson (p), Gerald Solfisberg (c), Theodore Bonneview (1b), Russell Young (2b), Keith Nichols (3b), Raymond Lane (ss/lf), John Williamson (rf/ss), Lloyd Heller(rf), Hage (rf), Hobson (lf), Parrish(lf), Richard Titzel (lf) played on the fall 1924 team, that lost twice to Somonauk and split with Hinckley. Football returned to PHS in 1925.

By the time Plano dropped football again, indoor baseball (also called “playground ball”) had evolved into softball. The 1937 boys softball team won 8 games, with 2 losses; while the 1938 team was undefeated (10-0). Wins in 1938 included two games each against Leland, Sheridan, Somonauk, Newark and Oswego. Posting a 6-4 record, the 1939 team would be the last boys softball team at PHS. Fourty years later, Coach Dwaine Hoff’s 1980 I-8 Champions were the first PHS girls softball team.

The Plano Historical Society is interested in old Plano team photos (or other Plano photos). If you would like to donate or allow the Society to scan any photos or would like to join, please contact President Bob Hausler at (630) 552-3210 or bhausler@cityofplanoil.org. When meetings resume, they will be held the last Tuesday of each month at 6:30 pm in the Plano Community Library.

The Society is actively looking for a location for a museum to display many artifacts of Plano history. If anyone is interested in renting or donating a space or building to the Society, please contact President Bob Hausler. A Go Fund Me page has been set up. While the Plano Historical Society is pursuing a physical home, the Facebook page contains more photos and interesting tidbits.

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