E.I. all-stars to play at historic site
DANVILLE -- When the 75-year-old Eastern Illinois Baseball League holds its interleague all-star game tonight (7 o'clock) at Danville Stadium, the players will be on a historic field.
Danville Stadium has been in existence for 64 years and for years was the minor league baseball home for such organizations as the Milwaukee Braves, Chicago White Sox, San Francisco Giants and the Milwaukee Brewers.
Future major-leaguers such as Cecil Cooper, Carl Erskine, Darrin Fletcher, Pedro Guerrero, Gorman Thomas and Leon Wagner are among the more than 70 major leaguers who considered Danville Stadium their home field for some period of time as they were climbing up the professional ladder.
In recent years, the Danville Dans of the Central Illinois Collegiate League -- and currently members of the Prospect League -- have provided a venue for college-age players to refine their skills in a two-month summer setting. Such athletes as Warren Morris, Kurt Ainsworth, Jason Anderson and Jon Papelbon are among the Dans' alums who have reached the majors.
Tonight, a collection of local and area amatuer players will compete on the field which was used in the 1990s filming of the John Goodman movie, "The Babe."
The Eastern Illinois Baseball League all-stars include athletes who are still in high school, others who are playing in college and some whose passion for the game prompts them to continue playing after they've entered the every-day working world.
Each of the E.I.'s seven teams will have at least one representative.
Among the youngest of the standouts are Royal's Blake Hoveln, an upcoming junior at St. Joseph-Ogden, Paxton's Dylan Overstreet, a senior-to-be at Paxton-Buckley-Loda, Urbana's Andrew Fouts, a recent Judah Christian graduate, and Paxton's Connor Allen, an All-Area high school selection this spring as a senior at PBL.
Players from Gifford-Flatville, Royal and Urbana will play for the South team.
Former Eastern Illinois University outfielder Marcus Jackson -- a News-Gazette sports writer -- is hitting .425 this summer and will be a prominent part of the South entry.
The North roster will feature athletes from league-leading Buckley (which has a 12-1 season record), Lexington, Paxton and Watseka. Among the all-stars for the Dutch Masters -- the only team which has participated in the E.I. all 75 years of its existence -- is pitcher Justin Schroeder, who is 6-1 this summer. Another of the team's top pitchers, Tyler Ware, is an all-star as is outfielder Ryan Morefield, one of the E.I.'s top batters.
Paxton infielder Josh Landon -- a high school coach in Cissna Park -- was selected for the nine-inning game as was veteran Mark Prina, who had a streak of more than 200 consecutive regular-season games played for the Swedes.
Gates open at 6 p.m. this afternoon and the admission charge is $2 per person. Concessions will be available.