Friends ‘pool’ funds for Beanie tribute
Updated: June 19, 2012 8:36PM
A handsome bronze plaque is up next to Hinsdale South’s Hornet trophy case in the hallway. Check it out! It’s in honor of Bryan “Beanie” Bateman, who put the Hornet Swim Club on the national age-group map with his coaching and friendship before losing his life in a 2009 auto accident.
Beanie, 32, was a nationally ranked all-American swimmer at Hinsdale Central (Class of 1996).
The plaque reads, “Bryan Beanie Bateman. In memory of our coach and friend, Beanie was an inspiration, a role model and a guiding force in the lives that he touched. His contributions and influence on the Hornet Swimmers will always be remembered.”
Vince Allegra, who starred with Beanie on some of Hinsdale Central’s great teams and was influential in the fund-raising efforts, said the plaque was long overdue.
“A few phone calls to those who swam with Beanie and parents who trusted their children with him got it started,” Allegra said. “We had the funds in no time.”
One of the instant contributors was Tom O’Toole, a radio disc jockey whose family was touched by Beanie.
“No one prepared young people like Beanie Bateman,” O’Toole said. “He had a way with them, bringing out their very best. It was all about team with him. He got them to the next level. His swimmers came from all around here.”
O’Toole’s son, Ryan, added, “Beanie not only was a coach and a dear friend, but a hero to me and hundreds of other swimmers. He left an incredible legacy at the Hornet Swim Club as well as the Illinois swimming community.”
Beanie’s parents, Bryan Sr. and Bay Nieman Bateman, were overwhelmed by the offer to have their son recognized.
“We’re still dealing with his loss,” Bryan said. “Beanie and his older brother, Chris, were almost like twins. It wasn’t easy telling him and our daughter, Becky. He left us with very fond memories.”
Oak Brook’s Bob Kramer, a longtime Hinsdale Softball League standout, fondly remembers Frank Eccles, whose “Patriarch of Illinois Baseball” legacy is found at Eccles Field in Clarendon Hills where Eccles and his father, Benjamin Franklin Eccles, conducted clinics and leagues for youths.
“I grew up with Frank and became a life-long friend,” Kramer said of the fellow 1956 Hinsdale Central graduate who died last year after coaching and teaching 30 years at Thornton High, plus scouting for potential big leaguers in summer leagues.
“Even though I moved over to 16-inch softball, I learned about the game from Frank. I miss him.”
The Darien Police Department lost a great friend in Sgt. James “Silli” Borsilli, whose badge No. 301 was retired by the department upon his Feb. 5 cancer death.
Borsilli enjoyed fishing and bowling with sons Nikolas and Daniel, and had set up an incubator in their Romeoville home to help hatch mallard-duck eggs.
The winter death of Frank Aschenbrenner struck home from a hilarious interview I had with the former Northwestern football star who led the Wildcats to their only Rose Bowl victory after World War II with a 73-yard touchdown run.
“I just followed the blocking,” the modest Aschenbrenner said. “Whenever a tackler appeared — Boom! Down he’d go. Pretty soon the only thing left in front of me was the goal post.”
Northwestern’s trip home was memorable from a snow storm that forced the Wildcats to live in the Cheyenne, Wyo., train station for four days.
“We built snow forts and attacked each other,” Aschenbrenner said. “I don’t remember who won.”