Illini Legends, Lists and Lore: Aug. 26, 2018

Illini Legends, Lists and Lore: Aug. 26, 2018

On this date in 1964, former three-sport Illinois standout Norton E. "Swede" Hellstrom died at the age of 68.

Born a first-generation American in 1896, Hellstrom was the son of Swedish immigrants. He attended Evanston Township High School, the same school that sent UI Hall of Famers Chuck Carney and Alex Agase to play for the Illini.

As a prep football player, Hellstrom's senior team in 1916 won the Suburban League in impressive fashion, not allowing any of its five opponents to score a single point.

That same year, Evanston's basketball team won the Stagg Tournament, referred to by many as the national high school championship. Hellstrom also starred as a baseball player, winding up as Evanston's first athlete to win 12 varsity letters.

Shortly after his graduation from Evanston, he fought in World War I, serving for the United States Navy.

Hellstrom lettered as an end for coach Bob Zuppke's football squad in 1920, but decided to focus his efforts on basketball and baseball for the remainder of his career.

Illini basketball coach Frank Winters inserted him into the starting lineup at forward with Carney in 1921, but he was sidelined with a leg injury the following season. Hellstrom captained coach Craig Ruby's initial Illini club in 1923 at the age of 27.

With coach Carl Lundgren's Illinois baseball club, he lettered from 1921-23 as an infielder. Both the 1921 and '22 Illini were Big Ten champions, losing only three times in two conference seasons. UI's overall record over Hellstrom's three seasons was 48-11-2.

At age 47, he rejoined the U.S. Naval Reserves and rose to the rank of lieutenant during World War II. After the war, Hellstrom moved his family to Fort Pierce, Fla., where he was a realtor.

Illini Birthdays:

Today: Jesse Delgado, wrestling (26)

Monday: Bob McClure, football (62)

Tuesday: Maverick Morgan, basketball (24)

Wednesday: Aleks Kovacevic, tennis (20)

Thursday: Janelle Hughes, basketball

Friday: James Gordon, football (53)

Saturday: Hardy Nickerson, football coach (53)

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 www.SportsLLL.com.