GREAT BASEBALL PLAYER
Information located by Jake Tenhouse provides a pretty amazing bit of information. A gentleman
named Karl Swanson, who grew up in North Henderson and graduated from North Henderson High School (a two-year
high school), played professional baseball in the Major Leagues for the Chicago White Sox!
The book the information was located in is titled "Voices From The Past - Oral Histories of Surviving
Major Leaguers, Negro Leaguers, Cuban Leaguers, and Writers, 1920 - 1934" and was written by Nick Wilson.
Karl Swanson was born December 17,1900 in North Henderson. He would often work on the farms
in the area during planting and harvesting time. The following is an excerpt written verbatim from the book which
is taken from Mr. Swanson's own words.
"I was born and raised in North Henderson, Illinois, a farm town of about 300 people near Galesburg.
The 300 included a few pigs and chickens. We lived in town but my father was a farmer and he worked for other people in the
At the end of the threshing season the farmers and the field workers formed two groups and they played
ball against each other. I was just getting into baseball at that time and that was the start of my career. I was
their pinch runner when I was 13 years old.
We didn't have a local team, just a bunch of kids that eventually formed a pick up team. We weren't
more than 15 or 16 years old. A fellow from our team would call another small town nearby and say "Let's have a ball game
There were about 3 or 4 towns like that. We'd get to those towns like Rio or Alexis, Illinois, anyway
we could, just to play a game. Occasionally we would go on bicycles or in a Drury wagon if anyone had a horse we could use."
Mr. Swanson goes on to explain how he made his own bat from branches he found in the woods
nearby. He also fabricated a pair of spikes through use of a pair of his grandmother's shoes! He then states:
"I graduated from our two-year high school when I was 16 years old
and then I went to Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois."
Mr. Swanson then played minor league baseball from 1921 to 1928 when he was signed to a
contract by the Chicago White Sox. Mr. Swanson played well in the minor leagues, batting .302 overall. His
time with the White Sox was short lived as his batting success did not follow him to the "bigs." He was on the White Sox roster
for the 1928, 1929, and 1930 seasons before being released.
Mr. Swanson is to be commended for his baseball successes coming from a small town like
North Henderson. Truly a remarkable feat!
We know that the North Henderson High School experience did not rest soley in the gym or on the
field. We believe that many other "extra-curricular" activities were offered as part of the educational plan too.
FFA, FHA, GAA, band, chorus, and many other events probably helped to make the North Henderson school a special one.
Do You Have Information to Share About North Henderson High?
Several questions posted above remain unanswered. If you have ANY information you wish to share
regarding North Henderson High School please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also write to us at:
Illinois HS Glory Days
6439 N. Neva St.
Chicago, Il. 60631