It was merely an idea last October 1 -- requesting officials of Evanston Township High School in Evanston, Illinois to name the baseball field at its newly (2009) renovated Evanston Baseball Park after long time and legendary head baseball (and boys soccer) varsity coach, Dr. Kenneth R. McGonagle. It has now blossomed beyond all expectations, certainly for this writer who heads this undertaking and "unofficial" committee, together with Don Gallagher, Brian Rosinski, Kit Vernon and David Scott, collectively and unofficially known as "Team McGonagle." A story on the effort was then published in the pages of the Chicago section of Huffington Post. It was noted then that Coach McGonagle [now 84 and having health issues] last graced school grounds as an educator and coach 25 years ago, though he appeared there in August 2012 when his boys state champ soccer team (1965) was inducted into the school's athletic hall of fame and a year later to the month when he, himself, was selected into its coaches wing -- only the fourth coach in school history to be so enshrined. Over the last six months or so, the following has taken place.
Ninety-six individual supporters from 23 states, the District of Columbia and even as far away as Mexico City have come forth, wanting the school to name its field after Coach McGonagle. The constituents are as broad and diverse as the number of states and geographic locations heard from now. These include, of course, all the ballplayers who played for McGonagle (also a phD in Secondary Education) who went on to pro careers, but also a state's Attorney General, an internationally known opera diva, a NASA planetary scientist, legal and medical scholars, business types extraordinaire, authors, screenwriters, distinguished alums, NCAA student-athletes and non-athletes.
Additionally, the Illinois high school baseball and soccer coaches' association (about 1,000 members strong) have voted their support too. McGonagle is also a member of both associations' athletic halls of fame and was the baseball's "Man of the Year" in the 1980s. He is one of the remaining three living founders of the baseball association (the other two who are supporting his name as well). Then there is the Illinois High School Association (another 780+ member schools) that this past January scribed a letter that recognized McGonagle's achievements. In the 196-year history of the State of Illinois, Coach is in the top 40 of all high school coaches who have earned their victories (727 out of 1,178 games coached (503 in baseball, 224 in boys soccer)) at one school. His recorded victories in both baseball and soccer place him in the top 50 of all high school coaches for each sport. He took one baseball team to a state championship, and two Regional Championships. His soccer teams produced three state champs and one that took 2d and 3rd in state tourney play. He was a founder in the 1960s of the summer league baseball program administered by the IHSA too. He is the genesis for scores of collegians who played baseball and soccer at the college or university level.
This journey, extending back to 1955 to today, some 59 years, has unearthed some well-deserved and fond memories (over 100 pages of words of support have been collected so far) from students and colleagues whose lives he touched during his 34 years at ETHS (not terribly unlike the Richard Dreyfus movie not that many years ago where he played a high school music teacher for years who, upon retirement, was honored by the memories of years of students who returned to honor him).
But more support is needed to let school officials know our efforts are indeed genuine, reflect a broad base of incredible support, and are worthy of very serious consideration. We want to top the century mark for support at a minimum! If anyone reading this post wishes to merely lend their name to our cause, please do so now by contacting this writer at, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for taking the time to read this post.
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