In honor of the B1G Tournament at Target Field, here's a notable big leaguer from each Big Ten school
The Big Ten Conference Baseball Tournament kicked off Wednesday at Target Field -- the first time it's ever taken place at an MLB park. In honor of the B1G's trip to the home of the Twins, here's some info about MLB players from each of the conference's 12 current teams:
Illinois: Lou Boudreau
The Hall of Fame shortstop/manager also played basketball at Illinois and continued his hardwood career professionally for two years in the old National Basketball League. While he was still in college, Indians GM Cy Slapnicka paid Boudreau to promise to sign with Cleveland after he graduated.
Others from Illinois: Hoot Evers, Tom Haller, Ken Holtzman
Indiana: Ted Kluszewski
"Big Klu" focused on football as a Hoosier and was an All-Big Ten selection as an end for Indiana's undefeated 1945 team. As a baseball player he was known for welcoming observers to the gun show with his sleeveless jerseys, prodigious power and, surprisingly, contact skills: Four times he hit 35 or more home runs while recording fewer strikeouts than long balls.
Others from Indiana: Barry Jones, Mickey Morandini, John Wehner
Iowa: Cap Anson
Anson was not the most distinguished Iowa student-athlete. In fact, he was expelled for bad behavior after one semester. While clearly an unsavory character for many reasons, he was one of baseball's first superstars, playing 27 seasons from 1871-1897 and becoming the first Major Leaguer to collect 3,000 hits.
Others from Iowa: Mike Boddicker, Cal Eldred, Jim Sundberg
Michigan: Barry Larkin
Arriving at Michigan on a football scholarship, Larkin switched to baseball full-time when football coach Bo Schembechler redshirted him as a freshman. He didn't waver despite Schembechler occasionally attending baseball practice to heckle him for choosing to hit a "sissy baseball" rather than "a man who can hit you back." He probably doesn't regret the decision; the Reds icon was inducted into the Hall of Fame last year.
Others from Michigan: Jim Abbott, Bill Freehan, Charlie Gehringer
Michigan State: Robin Roberts
An Illinois native, Roberts moved to Michigan for an Army Air Corps training program during World War II and stuck around to play basketball and baseball for the Spartans after the war ended. Despite moving to the mound only because Michigan State needed pitchers, he went on to be the ace for the Phillies' 1950 "Whiz Kids" team, reached the 300-inning plateau in five seasons and was elected to the Hall of Fame.
Others from Michigan State: Steve Garvey, Kirk Gibson, Mark Mulder
Minnesota: Dave Winfield
The 6-foot-6 St. Paul native played basketball for the Gophers (coach Bill Musselman said he was the best rebounder he ever coached) and was also the MVP of the 1973 College World Series as a pitcher. He was drafted by the NBA's Atlanta Hawks, the ABA's Utah Stars, the NFL's Minnesota Vikings (despite having not played college football) and the Padres -- who moved him from the mound to the outfield in advance of a Hall of Fame career.
Others from Minnesota: Paul Molitor, Denny Neagle, Terry Steinbach
Nebraska: Darin Erstad
Erstad was a Golden Spikes Award finalist at Nebraska and also the starting punter on the Huskers' 1994 championship football team. The first overall pick in the 1995 draft, he had 240 hits for the Angels in 2000 and is the only player in MLB history to win Gold Gloves at both outfield and infield positions.
Others from Nebraska: Stan Bahnsen, Joba Chamberlain, Alex Gordon
Northwestern: Mark Loretta
The only Big Ten Conference Player of the Year in Northwestern baseball history, Loretta had a solid 15-year career that included two All-Star selections. His career year came in 2004, when he hit .335/.391/.495 for the Padres.
Others from Northwestern: Joe Girardi, J.A. Happ, George Kontos
Ohio State: Frank Howard
The 6-foot-7, 255-pound Howard was drafted by the NBA's Philadelphia Warriors after playing basketball at Ohio State, but he chose to sign with the Dodgers instead. A trade to the second Washington Senators in 1965 gave rise to one of the greatest nicknames in history: the Capital Punisher. The spectacled behemoth was a rare bright spot in those Nats' final years, cracking 136 home runs from 1968-1970.
Others from Ohio State: Dave Burba, Larry Hisle, Nick Swisher
Penn State: Monte Ward
Ward attended Penn State at only 13 years old, allowing him to get his Hall of Fame MLB career started by age 18. He was both a shortstop and a pitcher -- not only did he lead the NL with 111 stolen bases in 1887, he also threw the second perfect game in history, blanking the Buffalo Bisons on June 17, 1880, while pitching for the Providence Grays. He was so famous a team was named for him: the Brooklyn Ward's Wonders of the short-lived Players' League.
Others from Penn State: David Aardsma, Birdie Cree, Cliff Heathcote
Purdue: Bill Skowron
"Moose" Skowron -- whose name derived from a supposed childhood resemblance to Mussolini -- arrived at Purdue on a football scholarship (he played halfback, kicker and punter) but quickly shifted to baseball. He hit .500 in conference play in 1950, attracting the attention of Yankees scouts, and played in eight World Series for them and the Dodgers.
Others from Purdue: Bernie Allen, Bob Friend, Josh Lindblom
Wisconsin: Addie Joss
Joss came from a modest family engaged in the most Wisconsinite of pursuits -- cheesemaking -- but he was a scholarly man who arrived in Madison to study, not to play sports. He was an engineer and journalist who worked professionally as both while simultaneously pitching brilliantly for the Cleveland Bronchos/Naps from 1902-1910, recording the lowest WHIP (0.97) and second-lowest ERA (1.89) in MLB history. Sadly, he died of meningitis at age 31, cutting his Hall of Fame career short.
Others from Wisconsin: Harvey Kuenn, Lance Painter, Paul Quantrill
-- Dan Wohl / MLB.com