Thomas Dwight "Dike" Eddleman (December 27, 1922 – August 1, 2001) is generally considered the greatest athlete in the history of athletics at the University of Illinois.[1] Eddleman participated on the University's basketball, track and field, and football teams between the years of 1942 and 1949. Eddleman earned a combined 11 varsity letters in his career at the University, during which he also became a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity. Eddleman was born in Centralia, Illinois, and attended Centralia High School. On October 24, 2008 Eddleman was named a Distinguished Alumni of Centralia High school. He, along with five others, including James Brady, were the first to be named Distinguished Alumni. His wife, Teddy Eddleman, accepted his award.

Dwight Eddleman
Photo of Dike Eddleman at the University of Illinois.png
Dwight "Dike" Eddleman
Personal information
Born(1922-12-27)December 27, 1922
Centralia, Illinois
DiedAugust 1, 2001(2001-08-01) (aged 78)
Urbana, Illinois
NationalityAmerican
Listed height6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
Listed weight189 lb (86 kg)
Career information
High schoolCentralia (Centralia, Illinois)
CollegeIllinois (1945–1949)
NBA draft1949 / Round: 3 / Pick: 24th overall
Selected by the Chicago Stags
Playing career1949–1953
PositionSmall forward
Number11, 18, 12
Career history
19491952Tri-Cities Blackhawks / Milwaukee Hawks
1952–1953Fort Wayne Pistons
Career highlights and awards
Career statistics
Points3,221 (12.1 ppg)
Rebounds913 (4.5 rpg)
Assists550 (2.1 apg)
Stats at Basketball-Reference.com
Dwight Eddleman
No. 40
Position:Wide receiver, Punter, Punt returner
Personal information
Born:(1922-12-27)December 27, 1922
Centralia, Illinois
Died:August 1, 2001(2001-08-01) (aged 78)
Urbana, Illinois
Height:6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
Weight:189 lb (86 kg)
Career information
High school:Centralia (Centralia, Illinois)
College:Illinois
NFL Draft:1947 / Round: 9 / Pick: 75
Career highlights and awards
  • University of Illinois records
    • Punt return average in a single game
      - 10/8/1947 (51.0 yards)
    • Punt return average in a season
      - 1947 (32.8 yards)
    • Longest punt
      - 11/6/1948 (88 yards)
    • Longest punt return
      - 11/8/1947 (92 yards)
    • Career punt return average
      - 1946-48 (21.5 yards)
    • Season punt return average
      - 1948 (32.8 yards)
    • Single game punt return average
      - 10/18/1947 (51.0 yards)
Dwight Eddleman
Personal information
Born(1922-12-27)December 27, 1922
Centralia, Illinois
DiedAugust 1, 2001(2001-08-01) (aged 78)
Urbana, Illinois
Height6 ft 3 in (191 cm)
Weight189 lb (86 kg; 13 st 7 lb)
Sport
SportTrack & field
Event(s)High jump
Achievements and titles
Personal best(s)HJ – 2.04 m (1948) =

Beginning in 1969, Eddleman served the University of Illinois as a fundraiser for the athletic department. In tribute to his years of service to the University's athletics, in 1993, the University of Illinois athlete of the year awards for both men and women were named in his honor. In 2002, the portion of Fourth Street in Champaign, Illinois that runs along the east side of Memorial Stadium between Peabody Drive and Kirby Street was designated Honorary Dike Eddleman Way (a street in his hometown of Centralia, Third Street, which runs past the old high school, is also designated Dike Eddleman Way).

In 1983, Eddleman was inducted into the National Federation of State High School Associations Hall of Fame.

Sports accomplishmentsEdit

High schoolEdit

As a high school player, Eddleman is considered one of the finest players in the history of high school basketball in the state of Illinois. Eddleman played four years at Centralia High School, from 1939 to 1942. Eddleman led the Centralia Orphans to the 1942 Illinois state basketball championship, after finishing fourth in 1939 and third in 1941. In the 1942 title game, Eddleman single-handedly led a comeback as the Orphans were 13 points down with five minutes to go. As a junior and senior, Eddleman led the state in scoring with 969 and 834 points, respectively. His 969 points as a junior broke the previous state record of 751 points. During his high school career, Eddleman scored 2702 career points, which was at the time of his graduation from high school a state record for most points in a career. Eddleman was the first high school player in Illinois to average at least 20 points per game. In 2007, the Illinois High School Association named Eddleman one of the 100 Legends of the IHSA Boys Basketball Tournament.[2]

University of IllinoisEdit

BasketballEdit

In the fall of 1942, Eddleman enrolled at the University of Illinois, playing on both the freshman football and basketball teams. However, in January 1943, after only a single semester, Eddleman was called to military duty during World War II. He was placed in the Army Air Corps and, after being sent to Fort Sheridan in Chicago for basic training, he was stationed in Miami Beach where he was assigned as a physical trainer for new cadets, all while still being only 20 years of age. It was in Florida that he would suffer the most serious injury of his time in the military as during a beach volleyball game, Eddleman broke his right foot. Following approximately eighteen months in Florida, Eddleman returned to his home state near Belleville, Illinois stationed at Scott Field. His final destination during his military service was Wright Field in Dayton, Ohio, where he played basketball for the Kittyhawks, a military service "all-star" team regarded as one of the greatest in the nation. While playing for the Kittyhawks, he was named to the College All-Star team composed of the best college players in the country. The team played games around the country, however, one particularly memorable game was when the Kittyhawks beat the Harlem Globetrotters in 1945. Eddleman would close out his military service in the Fall of 1946, transitioning back to the life of a college student athlete.

Upon returning to the University of Illinois, as a second semester freshman in the spring of 1947, Eddleman was immediately issued his Fighting Illini football and basketball uniforms and then flown to Berkeley, California to play in two basketball games prior to the semester commencing. The Fighting Illini played consecutive games against the University of California Berkeley on December 20 and 21. Eddleman followed that trip with another flight, this time to Pasadena to play on January 1 in the 1947 Rose Bowl game. He and his Illinois football teammates beat the UCLA Bruins by a score of 45-14, meanwhile back in Madison, Eddleman's basketball teammates would lose on the same day to the Wisconsin Badgers, the team that would go on to win the Big Ten title. Eddleman returned by train to Champaign, where he joined the reunited remaining group of "The Whiz Kids", Ken Menke, Gene Vance, and Andy Phillip as well as All-American guard Walt Kirk on the basketball team to play in a January 4 game against the University of Mexico in which the Illini would win by a score of 94–36. Eddleman was back for the remainder of a season where he would spend most of it as a backup to "The Whiz Kids". The Illini would finish with an overall record of 14–6 and a Big Ten record of 8–4, second place in the conference.

In his second season of varsity basketball, Eddleman would lead the team in scoring and be named to the Associated Press 2nd team All-American, Converse 3rd team All-American, as well as True Magazine 3rd team All-American. The team would be led by new head coach, Harry Combes to an overall record of 15 wins and 5 losses and a 7 and 5 conference record, third place in the Big Ten. After the season, Eddleman would be named First-team All-Big Ten as well as the University of Illinois Athlete of the Year.

In the 1948-49 season, Eddleman would lead the basketball team to the Big Ten title, and an appearance in the NCAA Final Four. That year, he earned the Chicago Tribune's Silver Basketball as the conference MVP. He was named a Converse 1st team All-American, Big Ten Player of the Year and earned the Big Ten Medal of Honor. Eddleman served as the team captain in 1949, and was named the team MVP that year and the University of Illinois Athlete of the Year for the second straight season. In his military shortened tenure at Illinois, Eddleman scored 618 points in 55 games for an average of 11.2 points per game, however, 606 of those points were scored in his final two seasons for an average of 13.5 points per game. The Fighting Illini's record over Eddleman's three season was 50 wins and 15 losses overall and 25 wins and 11 losses in the conference.[3]

FootballEdit

Eddleman was a member of three football teams while attending Illinois, however, the 1946 team would be the most successful. Not only would they win the 1947 Rose Bowl game, they were also the Big Ten champions finishing with 8 wins and 2 losses overall while going 6 and 1 in conference play. The 1947 team was not as successful, finishing in fourth place in the conference with a 3 and 3 record, while winning 5 games, losing 3 games and tying 1 overall. Eddleman's final season was in 1948. This team would finish in eighth place in the conference with a record of 2 and 5 and an overall record 3 wins and 6 losses. Individually, Eddleman would set several records for punting and punt returning, seven of which still stand at Illinois.

Eddleman was drafted by the Chicago Bears with the 75th pick in the 1947 NFL Draft and was additionally drafted by the Cleveland Browns with the 145th pick in the 1948 AAFC Draft.

Track & fieldEdit

As a high school athlete, Eddleman won three Illinois state high jump titles.[4] As a collegian, each year that Eddleman attended Illinois he also competed in track as a high jumper. Eddleman would win various high jump titles while at Illinois, including the Chicago Relays, the Illinois Tech Relays, and the Penn Relays. Additionally, he won three high jump titles in each appearance at the Big Ten Indoor Championships, the Central Collegiate Championships, and the Drake Relays. He also won an NCAA Championship in 1948 as well as Big Ten outdoor high jump titles in 1947 and 1949, the Kansas Relays, the Compton Relays, the Purdue Relays, and the Kansas City Games. During his four years of competition, his Fighting Illini team would win an NCAA championship in 1947.

On July 10, 1948, the summer of his junior year, Eddleman became eligible to participate in the 1948 Summer Olympics by qualifying at a meet held in Dyche Stadium at Northwestern University. After qualifying, Eddleman traveled to London in good company with Illini teammate Bob Richards as well as other Olympic notables including Harrison Dillard, Herb McKenley, Clyde "Smackover" Scott, and Bill Porter. After qualifying in their respective events, the two Illinois athletes made a quick trip back to Champaign-Urbana on the train, leaving the next day to join the other American Olympic hopefuls in New York in order to board the SS America with a final destination of England.

The high jump would take place on the first day of competition, July 30, 1948, and John Winter, a 23-year old bank clerk from Perth, cleared a height of 6 ft 6 in (1.98 m) on his first attempt. The remaining four jumpers, including Eddleman, would fail three times each in their attempts to match Winter. For the first time in the Olympics, ties were decided according to fewer misses. The winning height was 6 feet 6 inches (1.98m). The second, third, and fourth place jumpers all cleared 6 ft 4.75 in (1.95 m). Eddleman was awarded fourth place in the record book due to his number of misses.[5] After the conclusion of the games, Eddleman competed in an additional track & field meet in Glasgow, Scotland, winning the high jump with his personal record height of 6 ft 8.5 in (2.04 m). He then returned to Centralia on the RMS Queen Elizabeth, arriving by train to a citywide celebration and in less than a week after returning, he was practicing football in Memorial Stadium.

Professional basketballEdit

After leaving the University of Illinois, Eddleman played professionally for four seasons in the National Basketball Association. His career began after he received offers from the Chicago Stags and the Tri-Cities Blackhawks. He decided to play for the Blackhawks because he preferred to live in Moline, Illinois, with his wife and newborn daughter. In 1950, Eddleman led the Blackhawks in scoring as a rookie. After playing for the Tri-City Blackhawks and the Milwaukee Hawks, he was traded to the Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons which resulted in a move to Indiana. While playing for the Pistons, he cultivated a friendship with Fred Schaus, who would later become coach of the Los Angeles Lakers. Eddleman played in the NBA All-Star Game in both 1951 and 1952. Over his NBA career, Eddleman scored 3221 points in 266 games, for a scoring average of 12.1 points per game.[6]

During the off-season of the two years that he played in Indiana, Eddleman utilized his physical education degree by working as the recreational director for Central Soya, Incorporated, a Midwest soybean processing company. Prior to the 1954-55 season, after learning he would be traded to the Baltimore Bullets, a team that dropped out of the NBA and folded after playing 14 games in 1954, Eddleman decided to retire from professional basketball and work full-time for Central Soya. In 1956, Eddleman was transferred to a new plant in Gibson City, Illinois, a town located just 30 miles north of Champaign.

Personal life & deathEdit

Eddleman would marry Teddy Georgia Townsley, his high school sweetheart, on December 25, 1945, as the couple exchanged wedding vows in a Christmas ceremony while Eddleman was home on leave from the Army Air Corps. Their marriage resulted in the birth of four children, three daughters and one son. Diana, Nancy, Kristy, and Tom, all of which attended the University of Illinois.

In 1969 Eddleman left Central Soya and accepted the Executive Director of Grants-In-Aid position with the University of Illinois Foundation, a fundraising entity working with Fighting Illini Alumni to provide financial aid for student athletes. In 1990, the Grants-In-Aid program was renamed the Fighting Illini Scholarship Fund. Eddleman retired from his position with the University of Illinois on January 1, 1993.

In 1993, the University of Illinois renamed their male and female Athlete of the Year awards to the Dike Eddleman Athlete of the Year.

Eddleman died from a heart ailment at Champaign's Carle Foundation Hospital, on August 1, 2001 at the age of 78.

HonorsEdit

BasketballEdit

Track & fieldEdit

FootballEdit

AthleticsEdit

  • 1948 & 1949 - University of Illinois Athlete of the Year
  • 1961 - Inducted into the Illinois Sports Hall of Fame
  • 1993 - University of Illinois renamed their male and female Athlete of the Year awards to the Dike Eddleman Athlete of the Year.[13]
  • 2017 - Inducted into the University of Illinois Athletics Hall of Fame[14]

StatisticsEdit

College basketballEdit

Season Games Points PPG Big Ten
Record
Overall
Record
Highlight
1946–47
10
12
1.2
8–4
14–6
-
1947–48
20
277
13.9
7–5
15–5
First-team All-Big Ten
1948–49
25
329
13.1
10–2
21–4
Big Ten Player of the Year
Totals
55
618
11.2
25–11
50–15

NBA career statisticsEdit

Legend
  GP Games played   GS  Games started  MPG  Minutes per game
 FG%  Field goal percentage  3P%  3-point field goal percentage  FT%  Free throw percentage
 RPG  Rebounds per game  APG  Assists per game  SPG  Steals per game
 BPG  Blocks per game  PPG  Points per game  Bold  Career high

Regular seasonEdit

Year Team GP MPG FG% FT% RPG APG PPG
1949–50 Tri-Cities 64 .366 .623 2.2 12.9
1950–51 Tri-Cities 68 .355 .699 6.0 2.5 15.3
1951–52 Milwaukee 50 32.3 .324 .631 4.6 2.2 12.8
1951–52 Fort Wayne 16 18.0 .381 .462 2.3 1.4 6.5
1952–53 Fort Wayne 69 22.8 .351 .561 3.4 1.5 8.9
Career 267 25.7 .352 .630 4.5 2.1 12.1
All-Star 2 26.0 .250 .600 1.0 2.5 4.5

PlayoffsEdit

Year Team GP MPG FG% FT% RPG APG PPG
1950 Tri-Cities 3 .378 .600 2.3 16.3
1952 Fort Wayne 2 18.5 .375 .571 3.5 2.0 8.0
1953 Fort Wayne 7 9.0 .391 .267 0.7 0.3 3.1
Career 12 11.1 .381 .489 1.3 1.1 7.3

External linksEdit

ReferencesEdit

  • Dike Eddleman: Illinois' Greatest Athlete by Diana Eddleman Lenzi, Sports Publishing, Inc., 1997
  1. ^ State of Illinois 92nd General Assembly Legislation House Resolution
  2. ^ Legends of the IHSA
  3. ^ A Century of Orange and Blue: Celebrating 100 Years of Fighting Illini Basketball By Loren Tate, Jared Gelfond pgs.267-268 ISBN 1-58261-793-7
  4. ^ IHSA.org
  5. ^ Olympic.org
  6. ^ 1949 NBA Draft Archived May 3, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ FightingIllini.com
  8. ^ IBCA Hall of Fame
  9. ^ IHSA.org
  10. ^ 100 Legends of the IHSA Boys Basketball Tournament
  11. ^ GoDrakeBulldogs.com
  12. ^ FightingIllini.com
  13. ^ FightingIllini.com
  14. ^ Illinois Athletics Hall of Fame