Former SIU Carbondale and local baseball standout dies

News-DemocratMay 13, 2014 

Former Southern Illinois University Carbondale baseball standout Dick Dillinger, a Dupo High graduate from East Carondelet and longtime school board member, died Saturday.

He was 76. Dillinger is survived by his wife, Grace Dillinger, daughter Annie Dillinger, son Joe McMahon, daughter-in-law Joy and two grandchildren.

Dillinger played at SIU Carbondale from 1957 to 1959 and still holds the single-season batting average record of .455. He was voted the Salukis' MVP Award winner in 1958 and also led the team in hitting in 1959 with a .349 average.

He played baseball in various local leagues until age 50, including the Monroe County League, the Mon-Clair League and the Fountain of Youth League.

In 1985, Dillinger was inducted into the Mon-Clair League Hall of Fame after being a perennial all-star as a first baseman and pitcher on numerous championship teams for the Waterloo Buds (now Millers).

"The guy liked to play and the guy was fantastically aggressive," longtime Waterloo manager Vern Moehrs said. "He came to play. Dick was always on time and when the game was over, you didn't see him. He always went straight home.

"He loved the game and played the game very hard, could be controversial at times."

In 1968 and 1969, Dillinger had the game-winning hit in the 10th inning for Monroe Division victories over St. Clair in the annual league all-star game. He was an integral part of five straight all-star victories for the Monroe Division.

Moehrs said Dillinger, a star athlete at Dupo, began playing for some strong East Carondelet teams in the old Monroe County League before joining the Buds in either 1965 or 1966.

"East Carondelet was a very successful team, they won Monroe County titles several times with Dick," Moehrs said of Dillinger, who played 10 seasons for the Waterloo Buds before retiring from the Mon-Clair League and later resuming his career in the Fountain of Youth League.

Moehrs recalled a game against Marissa when Dillinger was pitching with a 1-0 lead, a runner on first and two outs in the ninth inning.

"I thought he was at the end of the line," Moehrs said. "I went out and spoke to him and said 'I've got a pitcher warmed up, so we'll get the last out."'

Dillinger encouraged Moehrs to leave him in the game, then lost on a two-run homer.

"Before I could sit down over there, the next batter hit one out of the ballpark," Moehrs said. "Dick walked by and said 'You left me in there one hitter too long.'''

Dillinger retired in 1994 as an executive vice president at General American Life Insurance following a 35-year professional career.

He also was a former Dupo school board president and board member for many years.

His funeral was held Tuesday in south St. Louis County. The family requested that donations be sent to the Independence Fund at www.independencefund.org.

The fund helps provide funds, equipment and therapies for injured military veterans.

Contact reporter Norm Sanders at 239-2454, nsanders@bnd.com or follow him on Twitter: @NormSanders

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