Baseball in Wartime

Baseball's Greatest Sacrifice


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Those Who Died That Others Might Be Free

 

World War II Hero of the Minor Leagues 

 

Lou Elko

 

Date and Place of Birth: 1924 Streator, Illinois

Died: April 2, 1944 United States

Baseball Experience: Minor League
Position:
Shortstop/Pitcher
Rank:
Private
Military Unit:
USMC

Area Served: United States

 

Louis E. Elko was born in Streator, Illinois, and attended Streator High School, where his athletic exploits have become almost legendary. In four years of competition, from 1939 to 1942, Streator High School amassed a won-loss record of 58–12, including three trips to the state finals and a second-place finish in 1942. Elko hit 15 home runs during that time—a school record that was not broken until 2000—and batted over .400 in three seasons. He accumulated 89 hits, a record that stood until 1999, and he is the only player in the top 12 on the career hits list to have played before 1997. On the mound, with future major leaguer Ralph “Rube” Novotney as his batterymate, Elko tied a school record for wins, going 16–3 from 1940 to 1942. And his athletic talents were not just restricted to the baseball diamond. He was also a standout in basketball on the most famous and most successful Streator High School team in history—the 1941–42 team that posted a 31–2 record with Elko as starting point guard under legendary coach Lowell “Pops” Dale.

Elko signed with the Chicago Cubs immediately following graduation in 1942, and was assigned to the Los Angeles Angels of the Class AA Pacific Coast League. The Angels assigned him as an infielder to the Madison Blues of the Class B Three-I League at the end of the season, and he was preparing to play his first season in the minors in 1943, when military service intervened.

Elko served as a private with the Marine Corps in the United States and died in a training accident on April 2, 1944. He was buried at St. Stephen’s Catholic Cemetery in Otter Creek Township, Streator, Illinois.

 

Added January 5, 2011.

 

Copyright © 2011 Gary Bedingfield (Baseball in Wartime). All Rights Reserved.