Illini Legends, Lists and Lore: April 15, 2018

Illini Legends, Lists and Lore: April 15, 2018

Though last weekend's performance at Maryland wasn't up to the level he'd reached through his first six Big Ten games, Illinois first baseman Bren Spillane brought a robust .452 conference average into the Rutgers series.

Research divulges that Spillane's current overall .455 average would rank among the top five all time in Illini annals.

At the top of UI's single-season list stands Darrin Fletcher, who hit an astronomic .497 in 1987.

One has to reach back 72 years to find an Illini hitter who compiled such monumental numbers as Spillane has this season. In 1946, Illinois' Lee Eilbracht compiled a record .484 average in nine conference games, collecting 15 hits in 31 at-bats, and claiming the Big Ten batting title.

The all-time Big Ten record for single-season average was established in 1961 by Michigan's Bill Freehan, a future 11-time Major League All-Star for the Detroit Tigers.

Freehan's .585 average is considerably better than the second-best mark on the conference list.

Top Big Ten averages (since 1939):


Bill Freehan, Michigan 1961 .585

Jason Trott, Ohio State 1998 .532

Randy Wolfe, Michigan 1985 .514

Bill Skowran, Purdue 1985 .500

Fred Erdmann, Michigan 1983 .500

Scott Weaver, Michigan 1995 .500

George Smith, Michigan State 1955 .485

Lee Eilbracht, Illinois 1946 .484

Mike Smith, Indiana 1991 .476

John Hotman, Iowa 1980 .475

Illini Birthdays

Today: Howie Johnson, basketball (63)

Monday: Dominique Keller, basketball (30)

Tuesday: Vederian Lowe, football (19)

Wednesday: Sarah Sharp, basketball

Thursday: Pete Fletcher, golf (91)

Friday: Jelani Boline, basketball (43)

Saturday: Kandie Bloch-Jones, track & field (23)

By Mike Pearson, author of Illini Legends, Lists & Lore (Third Edition now available in stores). Get more Illini birthdays, trivia and historical tidbits daily on Twitter@B1GLLL. His website is