Decatur Commodores, Three-I League Champions of 1923. Front row, from left: Ralph McCollister, Fred Wasem, Lewis, R.W. Heady, Quinn (on ground), Wiley, Chuck Miller, Jack Kotselnick, Don Ping. Back row: Happy Foreman, Dan Gross, Glenn Davis, Ernest Calbert, Glen Harle, Handley, Gray, Fitzgerald, Brenner, Sullivan, John Middleton. -- Decatur Genealogical Society

Decatur Commodores, Three-I League Champions of 1923. Front row, from left: Ralph McCollister, Fred Wasem, Lewis, R.W. Heady, Quinn (on ground), Wiley, Chuck Miller, Jack Kotselnick, Don Ping. Back row: Happy Foreman, Dan Gross, Glenn Davis, Ernest Calbert, Glen Harle, Handley, Gray, Fitzgerald, Brenner, Sullivan, John Middleton.

Decatur Genealogical Society

The Decatur Commodores and the Three-I League

The Illinois-Indiana-Iowa (Three-I) League operated in the midwest between 1901 and 1961 with stoppages for World War I, the Great Depression, and World War II. Beyond the three I's, teams from Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska and Wisconsin came in and out of the Class B minor league through the years.

One of the 13 Illinois teams involved in the league's history was the Decatur Commodores, operating in stretches between 1901-1909, 1911-1915, 1922-1932, 1935, 1937-1942, 1946-1948 and 1950, winning the league championship six times.

The first championship came in 1923 under the guidance of manager Chuck Miller, a former Major League outfielder for the St. Louis Cardinals. That team featured three one-time Major Leaguers on the pitching staff: August G. "Happy" Foreman, John "Lefty" Middleton and George "Cowboy" Milstead (not pictured above).

Middleton was trying to make it back to the Majors after pitching two games with the Cleveland Indians the year prior, while Foreman and Milstead were waiting for their first tastes of the big leagues. Foreman earned short stints with the Chicago White Sox (1924) and Boston Red Sox (1926) while Milstead pitched part of three seasons with the Chicago Cubs between 1924-1926. While Milstead's Major League career was short lived, he pitched professionally in some capacity all the way up through 1950.

Decatur Commodores playing at Staley Field, 1914. Playing in the Three-I (Illinois-Indiana-Iowa) baseball league, the Commodores were managed by George M. Reed and finished in fourth place with a 72-64 record. -- Macon County History Museum

Decatur Commodores playing at Staley Field, 1914. Playing in the Three-I (Illinois-Indiana-Iowa) baseball league, the Commodores were managed by George M. Reed and finished in fourth place with a 72-64 record.

Macon County History Museum

For more historic photos from Decatur and Macon County, check out the "Macon County Memories" hardcover coffee-table book.

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