Howie Fagan

Howie Fagan has had a tremendous impact on the Hall of Fame from its inception. In fact, one could argue that it was his generosity that led to the first public display of softball memorabilia. Italian Sports Hall of Fame director, George Randazzo, suggested that Howie and Al Maag meet. From that first meeting, Howie understood the vision for the Hall of Fame and indicated his willingness to be involved. He hosted the meeting that organized the Hall of Fame at Hawthorne. Since then, Hawthorne has hosted the inductee dinners, dinners that draw over 500 people each year. He also allowed a display of softball memorabilia to be setup in the building. He has influenced many of the HOF programs and his marketing experience has been vital in getting the Hall of Fame off the ground. He grew up on the South side of Chicago near Rainbow Beach. He decided to attend Mount Carmel High School, a decision he calls one of the greatest he ever made. He was a basketball and baseball star there (and is a member of their Hall of Fame) and then played football at Northern Illinois University from 1957 to 1959. He had never played football, so when he tried-out, Coach Howard Fletcher tested him in practice by running plays directly at him. He made every tackle, made the team and was soon paired with Alan Eck in catching passes from Lew “Golden Arm” Flynn and later from Tom Beck and George Bork. Fagan and Eck were ranked nationally as1st and 2nd in pass reception. In 1960 Howie coached the ends for the Mt. Carmel team that beat Taft in the Prep Bowl. He once had a speeding ticket in Wheaton on the day of a NIU football game. The judge put him in jail because he couldn’t pay the fine until legendary athletic director Chick Evans (not the golfer) showed up and convinced the judge to let him go. They raced back to DeKalb and Howie was able to play the second half. He had a baseball try-out in St. Charles but was only given two at-bats. He pleaded for a third swing and hit a homerun, so he was invited to a rookie camp in St. Louis with the Browns. He went 6-for-12 with three homeruns in Sportsman’s Park and was given a contract. He played in the minors for a while but couldn’t hit a curve ball, so he returned home. Besides baseball, he also played 16-inch softball. Howie is marketing director at Hawthorne Race Course. He and his wife, Nancy, live in the Western suburbs. They have two children, Matt and Sean.