Lee Eilbracht

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Lee Paul Eilbracht (March 22, 1924 – January 2, 2013) was an American college baseball coach and player in the Chicago Cubs organization. Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Eilbracht was raised in Waterloo, Illinois.[1]

Eilbracht is recognized as the winningest coach in Illinois Fighting Illini baseball history and earned All-America honors as a collegiate player. Swami, as he was dubbed, posted a 518–395 record in 27 seasons at the helm from 1952 through 1978, winning four Big Ten conference titles while leading his team to the NCAA District Playoffs three times.[2]

As an Illini catcher, Eilbracht was a three-time letterwinner in 1943 and from 1946 to 1947. Moreover, he garnered Most Valuable Player in these last seasons and topped the Big Ten in hitting in 1946 with a .484 batting average.[2] In between, he served in the Army during World War II before returning to the University of Illinois.[3]

After graduation, Eilbracht pursued a professional career as a player and manager in the Chicago Cubs Minor League system from 1947 to 1952. Eilbracht hit .282 with 30 home runs in 391 games at three different levels.[4] He was a player-manager of the Clinton Cubs for part of the 1948 season when they won the Central Association title, and then served as player-manager for the Sioux Falls Canaries from mid-1949 to mid-1951.[4] He ended his playing career with the Danville Dans in 1952.[4] Following the death of Illini head coach Wally Roettger in 1951, Eilbracht took charge of the team a year later.[3]

In addition, Eilbracht was an Olympic coach in 1964 for the United States baseball team in Japan and served as the first executive director for the American Baseball Coaches Association, retiring after the 1978 season.[2] He then worked as an analyst on Illini baseball broadcasts starting in the 1990s, and acted as a consultant for the Arizona Diamondbacks during several spring trainings.[2] Besides, he worked as an adviser and had a small part in the popular 1992 film A League of Their Own.[3]

Eilbracht was a long time time resident of Savoy, Illinois, where he died in 2013 at the age of 88.[3]

Sources[edit]

  1. ^ Baseball Reference Bullpen Biography.
  2. ^ a b c d Former Coach Lee Eilbracht Passes Away Archived 2013-02-26 at the Wayback Machine.. Illini Baseball. Retrieved on November 12, 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d Coaching legend Eilbracht dies. Republic Times. Retrieved on November 12, 2016.
  4. ^ a b c Baseball Reference – Minor League Baseball Statistics