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Bob Barnes

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Robert Avery Barnes (Lefty)

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Bob Barnes was a member of the baseball team at the University of Illinois in the early 1920s. His collegiate career was, by and large, unremarkable. In the spring of his senior season, the Illini were scheduled to play a doubleheader against Northwestern on Saturday followed by a doubleheader against Michigan that Sunday. At the time, Northwestern was the worst team in the Big Ten whereas Michigan was in first place that year. Barnes was selected to pitch the second game against Northwestern so that the Illini could save their best pitchers for the Michigan game the following day.

He pitched a no-hitter against the hopeless Wildcat reserves. His performance received notice in the major Chicago newspapers and those reports caught the eye of Chicago White Sox team President Harry Grabiner. Told by his scouts that Barnes was not a prospect, Grabiner hired him as the team's batting practice pitcher for the summer of 1924. That July, the White Sox played two doubleheaders in three days against the New York Yankees. In the second game of both doubleheaders, the games were decided by lopsided scores, 10-2 and 18-5. The roster rules being more lax than they are now, manager Johnny Evers put his batting practice pitcher in to finish both games.

The scouts' judgment was confirmed - Barnes pitched 4 and 2/3 innings, giving up 11 runs, 10 of them earned, throwing 3 wild pitches, hitting 2 batters, and commiting a balk.

That fall, "Lefty" Barnes gave up his fledgling baseball career and enrolled in the University of Illinois' law school. After receiving his degree, he returned to Marshall County, Illinois, where he practiced law for many years. Barnes would eventually serve as the State's Attorney, or chief prosecutor, for that county.

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