By Phil Lopez
Published September 29, 2022 in The Burg
In celebration of Hispanic Heritage month the athletic career and accomplishments of one of the greatest Hispanic athletes to have played at Galesburg High School is worthy of remembrance.
Phil Lopez played baseball and basketball for the Galesburg Silver Streaks in the 1940s. His athletic career in high school was described by many as "sensational."
Unfortunately his life was cut short by tuberculosis and he passed away at age 19, six months
removed from his high school graduation.
Phil played both basketball and baseball for the Silver Streaks.
His best basketball season was his senior year, 1943. Notable games were against Rock Island where he scored 20 points, one more point than the Rockies 19. Saving his best for the regional tournament, Phil scored consistently in double figures and scored a high of 30 points in the championship game against Knoxville. His scoring accomplishments that season were special in that many teams in the 40s struggled to score as many as 40 points in a game.
Phil was also believed to have been the first player to shoot a one-hand set shot, a lethal weapon in his scoring arsenal. In that special season, Phil scored 245 points in 12 games for a 20.4 point average! This was unheard of at that time. His accomplishments were recognized as special 10 years later in a 1953 vote of All-Time Streak players. Phil was referred to, in that article, as one of the best all-around athletes at GHS up to that date.
Phil was an outstanding baseball player as well. He was a catcher and typically batted third.
Phil honed his baseball skills playing with the local Hispanic barnstorming team, playing against grown men while still a teen.
One of the high points of his career with the Streaks was a game where he registered five hits and seven RBIs. He was being looked at by both the Cubs and Cardinals to continue his baseball career. He was also recognized by a local publication as beginning, in the 40s, the tradition of outstanding catchers who played for GHS.
Unfortunately, during that 1943 season he developed a cold that led to pneumonia and ultimately tuberculosis. He died in a sanitarium in Ottawa in January of 1944. His former teammates served as pallbearers.
Phil Lopez was inducted in the Galesburg Athletic Hall of Fame on November 24, 2001. He was recognized for his athletic career and accomplishments.
An excerpt from a poem written at the time of Phil's passing . . .
This year, the twenty-ninth of January, Galesburg lost a son-
But in our minds will always live
The fine deeds this boy had done.
His former teammates carried him,
When they said their last good-bye-
They promised Phillip they would fight,
For him and Galesburg High