Has a team from Quincy ever made it to the Little League World Series?
No. In fact, no team from Quincy -- nor any team from Adams, Pike, Brown or Hancock counties -- has made it to the Little League's Great Lakes Region, Midwest Region or Central Region tournaments since records were kept starting in 1957.
Beardstown, from nearby Cass County, nearly won this year's state tournament in Olney, losing its first game to Moline National but defeating River Forest and Moline National to reach the title game, which it lost 4-0 to Hinsdale.
The Great Lakes Region Tournament started Sunday, with teams from Hamilton, Ohio, Wausau, Wis., New Albany, Ind., Lexington, Ky., Grosse Pointe, Mich., and Hinsdale hoping to earn a spot at the Little League World Series for boys ages 11-12 in Williamsport, Pa.
Two Quincy teams have made it as far as the state tournament. Quincy North, coached by Jim Douglas, made it to the final four in Midlothian in the southwestern Chicago suburbs in 1976. Quincy South, coached by Pete Million, made it to the final four in Beardstown's Schmoldt Park in 1982. Neither team won a game.
At that time, Quincy's Little League was split into two leagues for postseason play, based on the number of participants and where they lived. Maine Street was the dividing line for the North and South teams.
The 1976 Quincy North team won the District 17 championship in Beardstown, then in the Section 1 tournament at Spring Valley, it defeated Springfield Clark Griffith in the semifinals and Mount Carmel for the title.
Douglas figured his team had a good chance to win a state title because of two solid pitchers in Scott Melvin and Mike Smith, plus two big offensive threats in third baseman Bruce Douglas and first baseman Dennis Douglas.
(You may remember the Douglas brothers. They turned out to be pretty good basketball players at Quincy High School, and Melvin is one of the top baseball players in school history.)
"I've watched a lot of World Series, and I'd still take my first four guys against anybody else's," Douglas said.
Bruce Douglas hit two home runs to account for all of Quincy North's runs in the state semifinals against Markham Manor, which was only a few miles from Midlothian and had a huge crowd.
"There was probably 400 people there, and 390 of them were rooting against us," Douglas said.
Quincy North was one out away from playing in the state championship game. However, Douglas said one of his team's outfielders was distracted by fans down the left-field line, and a sixth-inning fly ball that should have been caught was not. Quincy North eventually lost to Markham Manor 4-3 in seven innings and knocked out of the single-elimination bracket.
Markham Manor went on to win the state title and was eliminated in region play by a Des Moines, Iowa, team that went to the eight-team World Series. (The tournament now has a 16-team field.)
"We were loaded with talent, and we lost a game we should have won," Douglas said. "We ran into a stud team that almost played us even, and they did win the game, but we were better. We were really good, and we should have gone farther."
Other players on the team were Scott Douglas, Kelly Jansen, Scott Hall, Wendell Johnson, B.J. Bumbry, Tim Thomas, Neal Meyer, Steve Grawe, Gary Genenbacher and Doug Haxel.
Pete Million figured the 1982 Quincy South team would be good because he had several players from his Kiwanis Club team that went 17-0 in the Quincy league.
"I had kids on our Kiwanis team that were better than some of the kids on the all-star team, but we couldn't put all of our players on the team," Million said.
Quincy South won its district in Beardstown, though Million admits, "I don't know how we beat Quincy North because overall they might have been stronger."
It then won three games in the section tournament in Robinson -- 6-3 over Rock Falls, 6-5 over Springfield Cy Young and 11-3 over Carmi for the title. Million remembered one section game in particular.
"We were down 3-0 or 4-0 in the fourth inning, and the team we were playing was kind of mouthing us," he said. "They were all wearing their district pins, and I said something to the umpires that they're not supposed to have those pins on, and the umpires made them take them off. They just threw a fit.
"And then they fell apart the next inning. It was kind of chintzy, but we won the game."
Quincy South figured to have an advantage in playing the state tournament in Beardstown against three Chicago-area teams, but with top pitcher Mike Kirkpatrick on the mound, the team lost 3-0 to Naperville American in the opener. It then lost 20-4 to South Holland North to bow out of the double-elimination tournament.
"We could have gone farther, but I think I put too much pressure on them," Million said. "Everybody thought that when we got to the state tournament, we couldn't possibly win. I was just trying to stop that approach.
"We just had a good bunch of kids who played together. I don't think they realized at that time how exceptional that experience was."
Other team members were Randy Edmundson, Ronnie Edmundson, Jim Hansen, Todd Schneider, Rob Million, Kris Reece, Corey Mehaffy, Rich Martin, Sam Kuhlman, Jeff Reinold, Scott Hultz, David Schuering and John Harberts.
Records kept by Little League since 1964 show that Quincy teams won six District 17 titles from 1975 to 1982, but no Quincy team since has won a district championship.
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