Five boys left a legacy in Grand Tower Community High School basketball program in 1948-1950
that was unequaled with previous teams. It brought an end to the Grand Tower school district and was
the first year of Shawnee Consolidated School District with two towns south--Wolf Lake and McClure. Charles Dickson,
Charles Hines, Jack Milster, Bill Wills (Gene's nephew), and Gene Wills, were the nucleus that formed in
grade school coached by Claude Jarrett. In grade school they won the Egyptian Junior Athletic conference,
losing only one game.
Continuing in basketball for the 1949-'50 school year, the Grand Tower Indians had a new coach in
Tommy Dunn who moved from Mounds High School. What made it even more exciting was that his brother, Benny
Dunn, was the coach of Gorham. The Dunn brothers were both known in the area as excellent coaches. We knew Tommy
Dunn could do a lot with these coachable boys.
The team won second in its own invitational tournament when Benny and his Gorham Mustangs beat the Grand
Tower Indians.You might say they were getting revenge after having been previously beaten on their home floor 43-33.
Momentum picks up and the team received and accepted an invitation to appear in a two-game benefit basketball
show for the annual March of Dimes drive Saturday, Feb.4, in Mayfield, Kentucky, high
school gym. It was Grand Tower's longest trip in basketball history and played before the largest crowd ever to
witness the Indians in action with an estimated 3500 in the stands Grand Tower played Sedalia,
which was rated No. 4 in Kentucky State basketball, and got off to an 11-5 lead and kept the lead
throughout but it narrowed to 42-40 with fifty seconds left to play. Sedalia got the ball out of bounds but a player
traveled. We got the ball and Gene Wills was fouled; he made the free throw making it 43-40.
We held the ball and controlled it for the remainder of the game.
The Dunn brothers' rivalry was tested again when Gorham returned to Grand Tower for a 52-27 victory.
This was the second loss for Grand tower. They advanced farther than any previous cage squad by winning
the Steeleville District tournament and defeating Chester in the first round of the Pinckneyville regional. The team
lost a hard fought second round bout to Sparta, the eventual tournament winner.
We don't want to negate the importance of supporting players. However, for fear of missing someone, we
will not attempt to name them but they played an important part, too. (Thanks to Aldeane Gollon Wills,
Charles Hines, & Charles Dickson!!)
The Grand Tower High School baseball program was a solid program as well. The following information
was submitted by Charles C. Hines, Mrs. Aldeane Wills, and Mr. Charles Dickson
Baseball – From Strike-Outs to Home Runs
In 1946-1947 baseball, under Coach Holly C. Marchildon, Grand Tower competed
in conference which included, Ava, Gorham, Olive Branch, Thebes, Vergennes and Wolf Lake.
In baseball, Grand Tower competed in Fall and Spring Season.
In the Fall Season of 1946-1947, the pitching staff was headed by Gene Wills
as freshman and Jack Milster as relief pitcher. The 1947 schedule ended with Grand Tower in 5th in
conference, with 8 losses and 2 wins which, included being defeated by Gorham with Bill Schimpf pitching a no hitter against
The 1946-1947 team was Donald “D.A.” Godair heading the batting
order and playing first base.
Jack Milster divided his time between playing on second base and pitching.
Charles “C.D.” Roberts took over third base.
Oral “Mack” Norton was at shortstop.
Robert “Pickle” Nation divided center field along with Dale Clemens.
Lowell Dean Ellet handled left field very nicely.
Jim “Hatchet” Ellet took over second base in the absence of Jack
Ray “Salty” Nelson and Henry Burdick were the catching staff.
The substitutes for the baseball team were Charles “Dickey” Dickson,
Stacey “Bill” Wills, Charles “Chuck” Hines, Joe Burke, and Clifford Derossett.
The Indians had a schedule of ten games.
In 1946-1947 Gorham won the Western Egyptian High School Baseball Conference with Grand
Tower finishing 5th.
The 1947-1948 Season went as follows:
Jack Milster, lead off man for the Indians and playing shortstop, was known
for getting base on balls, his consistent hitting, and making only one error all season.
Charles Dickson, batting second and playing third base, was known for his ability
to bunt and put men around and covering third like a wet blanket.
Lowell D. Ellet, batting third and playing first, was known for consistent hitting
and fielding while playing first without an error and hitting over .300.
Gene Wills, batting fourth, pitching and playing center field, was known for
his long ball hits and well pitched games.
Bill Wills, batting fifth and playing left field, with consistent hitting well
over .300. Bill’s rifle arm kept men from taking extra bases on him.
Dale Clemens, batting sixth and playing right field, had a very successful year
as a base runner and right fielder.
Chuck Hines, batting seventh and playing second, was a very nice hitter and
always making an outstanding catch around second.
Henry Burdick, batting eighth, and doing the Indians receiving and handling
the pitchers in true major league fashion, and also a long-ball hitter.
Robert Nation, also a great pitcher for the Indians with a three wins and no
Edward Hudson, batting ninth and playing center field like a charm.
The Indians have prospects in Toby Nelson as catcher, Jim Keith at first
base and Dale Dillow as infielder and Bill Grammer as outfielder; and all are Freshman and have a great future
to look forward to.
SCHOOL SCORE SCHOOL SCORE OUTCOME
Grand Tower 3 Cobden 1 Off to a good start
Grand Tower 2 Alto Pass 0 Keep up the good work
Grand Tower 0 Ava 3 We were due
Grand Tower 21 McClure 6 Good batting average
Grand Tower 3 Wolf Lake 1 Still going
Grand Tower 5 Gorham 0 Good practice
Grand Tower 20 Vergennes 2 Better batting average
Grand Tower 0 Campbell Hill 3 They were lucky
Grand Tower 0 Gorham 3 Good-bye trophy
During the Spring Season of the Western Egyptian High School Baseball Conference, Grand
Tower had a loss to Ava but beat Gorham and needed to win at Campbell Hill to win the conference. After being upset by
Campbell Hill, Gorham and Grand Tower finished with identical records. A playoff game was played to decide the conference
championship which, Gorham won beating Grand Tower 3-0 with Gorham finishing 1st in conference and Grand Tower
The 1948-1949 Season was coached by H.O.Dickerson and the team included the
following: sophomore Ray Barrett, junior Oscar Bishop, senior Dale Clemens, junior Charles Dickson,
sophomore Dale Dillow, junior Jim Ellet, freshman Frankie Wayne Glodo, junior Charles Hines, freshman
Mark Hughes, junior Jack Milster, senior Robert Nation, sophomore Toby Nelson, junior Gene
Parker, sophomore Byron Penrod, senior Edgar Allen Poe, junior Gene Wills, and junior Bill Wills.
Prior to the baseball season beginning, Ava and Campbell Hill consolidated high schools
and were added to the conference competing as Trico.
The schedule was as follows:
Grand Tower 27 McClure 16
Grand Tower 7 Murphysboro 4
Grand Tower 8 Trico 2
Grand Tower 2 Thebes 4
Grand Tower 20 Vergennes 3
Grand Tower 21 McClure 4
Grand Tower 2 Wolf Lake 0
Grand Tower 1 Gorham 6
Grand Tower 6 Wolf Lake 5
Grand Tower 7 Royalton 5
Grand Tower 8 Trico 4
Grand Tower 7 Vergennes 0
Grand Tower 5 Gorham 4
Grand Tower 0 Gorham 5
The 1949-1950 Season was coached by Tommy Dunn, whose brother, Benny Dunn,
coached at Gorham.
Grand Tower had a successful season winning the Western Egyptian High School Conference. The
team included the following: seniors, Charles Dickson, Charles Hines, Jack Milster, Bill Wills,
and Gene Wills; juniors, Bill Grammer, Jim Keith, Toby Nelson, and Byron Penrod; sophomores, Lester
Smith and Frankie Wayne Glodo.
The Grand Tower Indians had a wonderful baseball season winning seven and losing only
one. Coach Tommy Dunn was at the head of the Indians for the year. He did a wonderful job of coaching his boys. The
highlight of the season was a six to three victory over Gorham. Gorham had beaten us earlier in the season five to nothing. It
was a sweet revenge for the Indians who are friendly rivals of the Mustang team from Gorham. Dickson led the Indians at bat.
He had two doubles out of four trips to the plate.
Bill Grammer and Stacy Wills led the hit parade for the Indians for the
season with thirteen hits each.
The conference games and the scores for the season are as follows:
Grand Tower 10 Wolf Lake 3
Grand Tower 4 Vergennes 3
Grand Tower 8 Tamms 1
Grand Tower 0 Gorham 4
Grand Tower 8 Trico 0
Grand Tower 4 Wolf Lake 0
Grand Tower 18 Tamms 2
Grand Tower 6 Gorham 3
Baseball Season came to an end when Murphysboro’s 1950 baseball team, the first
diamond outfit of the Murphysboro School since 1940, turned in its best performance of the year at Carbondale to defeat Grand
Tower 2-0 in the Championship game of the Carbondale District Tournament. Grand Tower had never won a baseball district tournament
Murphysboro plays Royalton, the winner at Johnston City, for the right to advance to
the DuQuoin Regional.
It was Teddy Koenigsmark, lanky right-hander of the Murphysboro pitching staff,
who led the way to the decision with a superb three-hit performance. Koenigsmark retired the strong Grand Tower line-up in
order in four of the seven innings, and did not allow more than one hit in any inning.
Gene Wills, Grand Tower right-hander, also tossed a three hit decision, but
lost out in the final accounting on a home run by Dick Copin and on unearned Murphy run that came in following a wild
Following the end of the High School’s Baseball Season, Jack Milster and
Stacey Bill Wills signed a professional baseball contract with the St. Louis Browns and Charles Hines played
two years for Abe Martin at SIU.
Letter Abe Martin wrote to Charles Hines
SOUTHERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY
July 18, 1950
Mr. Charles Hines
Benny Dunn has informed me that you plan to enroll here at Southern this fall, and
I wish to take this opportunity to let you know that I am looking forward with pleasure to having you on my baseball team
As you probably know we had a very good club this year. We won second in our conference
and defeated four teams that won championships in other conferences. I saw Grand Tower play and I have high regard for
If I can be of any help to you in finding a room and in getting located, please feel
free to call on me at any time.
Glenn “Abe” Martin
TAKEN FROM AN ARTICLES THAT APPEARED IN THE DAILY INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPER
Stacey “Bill” Wills and Jack Milster, two 18-year-old Grand
Tower high school graduates, will be on their way to the Class D Baxley, Ga., farm club of the St. Louis Browns.
The youths signed contracts with the Browns in St. Louis after a tryout held before
the Brown baseball game with the Red Sox’s.
Wills, a left-hander both at bat and in the field, is an outfielder. Milster
is a shortstop by trade, though he stepped out of character once to pitch a no-hit, 1-0 victory over Murphysboro.
Wills, perhaps is the more promising of the two players. He’s 5-10, a
solid 180 pounds and packs a mean wallop. He got seven hits in 11 trips during the Carbondale district tournament, four of
the hits being triples.
At Sportsman’s Park, Wills hit two balls out of the lot. One hit the light
supports atop the pavilion and the other reached the pavilion roof.
Milster also socked one to deep center field. Milster throws and bats right-handed.
He is perhaps too small to make the grade as a pitcher, packing only 160 pounds on his six-foot frame.
No information was available as to whether the boys received bonuses to sign with the
Browns. It was doubted, however, that they approached the $6,000 figure which makes a player a bonus player.
Wills and Milster were at home packing for the trip while their junior
and senior teammates saw the Browns play the Red Sox as guests of Principal William O. Fisher and Coach Tommy Dunn.
Gene Wills, Charles Dickson and Charles Hines were the seniors and Bill Grammer, Toby
Nelson and Jim Keith the juniors. They missed the school prom during the baseball tournament and got the extra reward
of seeing the Browns play.
Starting with the summer of 1947 Grand Tower competed in the Trico League which was
limited to teenagers.
Also in the Trico League were the following (all a lot larger than Grand Tower): Carbondale,
Murphysboro, Steeleville, West Frankfort, Dowell, Pinckneyville, and DuQuoin.
In a 1949 league game, playing Dowell at Grand Tower, the game was stopped in the 3rd
inning with Dowell leading 5-0, because Dowell was objecting to the umpires’ decisions. The league officials rescheduled
the baseball game at Murphysboro Riverside Park, neutral field. This was an inspirational game for Grand Tower who needed
to win in order to place 1st in Trico Conference. Grand Tower scored 15 runs holding Dowell at 5 to win 1st
place in the Trico League.
Harry “Cap” Hines was sponsor of the Grand Tower team, died the
morning after the Dowell game, at age 62, from a heart attack. Those who know and follow teenage baseball know that the
term, “sponsor,” means the fella who buys the balls and bats….the fella who furnishes transportation to
out of town games….the fella who often has to dip down into his own funds to buy a glove, or some other bit of equipment,
for one of the players. “Cap” didn’t mind….he loved doing it. His was a natural love for
sports, and baseball in particular. But above all, he loved the boys who were playing for him.
The money he put into the team in his two years’ sponsorship was marked off as
an investment in youth. His countless hours of time spent with the team were also invested, invested with the certainty
of financial loss. The money didn’t worry “Cap,” for he was a wealthy man. The time didn’t
worry him either, for though his business world was heavy with responsibility, including active management of two large farms,
he never allowed the business world to rule his life.
Sports were his hobbies, particularly baseball as played by the Grand Tower Indians,
and he was playing the game for a full nine innings.
The youth, growing up in Grand Tower in the 1940’s and 1950’s did not have
some of the advantages of growing up in a larger city where municipal pools and other park facilities are offered during the
The youth of Grand Tower spent their time playing Indian Ball which, was played in
an open field between the marks and each team was allowed three outs.
Another game played by the youth of Grand Tower was Cork Ball. A Cork Ball was
like a miniature baseball and took a special bat. All of those things required money and trips to the sporting goods
store for the equipment. Jack Milster, during summertime visits to St. Louis, played Cork Ball and was familiar
with the rules of the game. He suggested that instead of using Cork Balls and, the special bat required, the game could
be played with bottle-caps and a broom stick. The game was played with rules similar to Cork Ball. There was a pitcher,
catcher and one out-fielder. The pitcher would throw to the batter and if the batter swung at the cap and missed with
the catcher catching the cap, it was an out. If the hitter made contact with the bottle-cap, it was a base hit. Hitting
the moving and curving bottle-cap with a broom stick required special timing and special eye contact. There was always
a game played after collecting bottle-caps from nearby vendors, and the game was played in an alley
“SPORT” BASEBALL AND GRAND TOWER SUPER DOG
While playing baseball in the summertime, the baseball diamond was located with a hill
and pasture behind home plate. Frequent foul balls to the pasture stopped the game until the ball was found.
Robb Roy Goetz had a bird dog, Sport, who was used to locate the lost balls. Sport,
through his own training, was able to detect a solid hit from a foul ball. Sport would be on the field and would not
pay any attention unless there was a foul tip and he would immediately follow, locate, and retrieve the foul ball. It
is difficult to say how much money that Sport saved both the High School and Trico League teams in the balls that he found.
Coach Tommy Dunn was so impressed with Sport’s ability that he suggested
a St. Louis newspaper should do a feature story.