Over the next two weeks, we are highlighting the five best Major League players to ever play baseball at each of the Big Ten universities. Today, we take a look at the Illinois Fighting Illini. Earlier stories can be found here.
Number of Major Leaguers: 71
First: Cy Falkenberg (debuted April 21, 1903)
Most recent: Kyle Hudson (debuted Sept. 4, 2011). Hudson is from Mattoon, Ill., home of Will Leitch.
Lou Boudreau, Hall of Famer, career .295 hitter who played most of his 15-year career for the Cleveland Indians. Won the American League MVP in 1948, when he batted .355 and an on-base percentage of .453. He managed the Indians to the 1948 World Series title as a player/manager.
Ken Holtzman won 174 games over 15 years in the Major Leagues for the Cubs, A’s, Orioles and Yankees. He peaked with the A’s from 1972-75, winning 77 games with a 2.92 ERA. He was an all star in ’72 and ’73.
Cy Falkenberg won 130 games with a 2.68 ERA over 12 years in the Major Leagues after leaving Illinois in 1902. He pitched for Pittsburgh, Washington and Cleveland and led the league in walks in 1906 with 108 in 298.2 innings.
Hoot Evers played 12 years for five teams, primarily the Tigers and Red Sox. He had 1,055 career hits, led the league in triples in 1950 and was an all star in 1948 and 1950.
Darrin Fletcher caught in the Major Leagues for 14 seasons for the Dodgers, Phillies, Expos and Blue Jays. He finished with 1,048 hits and 124 home runs, including 20 in 2000. He made one all-star team, in 1994 for the Expos (the cursed year).
Honorable mention: Scott Spezio and Tom Haller.