Preface

      I moved to Batavia in late December 2004, and it did not take long for me to discover that the annual Batavia–Geneva football game was a really big deal in both communities. I caught the fever, and the 2006 season (and Batavia’s championship run) made the condition chronic.

      This particular project was inspired by the work of Leslie G. “Les” Hodge (1924–1999), who is remembered for his coverage of Batavia High School athletics as a sportswriter for the Batavia Herald and Kane County Chronicle.

      Hodge was elected to the Illinois Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame in 1989 for his writing and devotion to high school athletics. Batavia’s Les Hodge Invitational, a track & field and cross country tournament—at which no team scores are kept and schools can enter as many athletes in as many events as they want—was named in his honor.

      I spotted Hodge’s “Batavia vs. Geneva” chart in the Daily Herald on Friday, 23 September 2005, and observed several gaps in the all-time record. My research instincts were intrigued—frankly, the reference librarian in me cannot abide such a mystery—and “so began a fascinating yet often frustrating journey through ancient yearbooks, microfilm, and yellowed newspaper clips.”[1]

      The lack of historical resources made the task more daunting than anticipated. For example, Superintendent H. C. Storm discontinued publication of the Batavia High School annual for the 1917–1918 school year—a move for which he later expressed regret[2]—so there are no Batavia yearbooks from 1918 to 1944.

      Newspaper coverage was often spotty. Prior to the 1930s, the local weekly (or occasionally semi-weekly) newspapers—the Batavia Herald and the Geneva Republican—often did not cover high school sports with any consistency. However, the Aurora Daily Beacon (now the Beacon News), a daily newspaper, provided relatively good coverage of high school (and community) athletics in the Tri-City area back to the late 19th century.

      Ultimately, I found a printed source contemporary to each game for every Batavia–Geneva football score in The Record Book. I am now working on compiling a complete record of interscholastic football in Batavia from its beginnings (ca. 1894) to date.

      As a side note, I found no evidence that any game was played—or even scheduled—in 1918, even though one later secondary source listed Batavia as the winner in 1918, while another listed Geneva as the winner.

      It is my honor (and pleasure) to acknowledge some of the many people who have supported this project (listed alphabetically):—

 

                 Paul W. “Peeler” Bergeson, Jr. (Class of 1945, Batavia), for his reminiscences of Batavia High School and Batavia athletics—in particular for his recollections of the origin of the Bulldogs nickname—and for teaching me “Slåss, Pojke, Slåss!”
    Michael J. Gaspari, Batavia’s legendary head football coach (1985–2010) and Citizen of the Year (2006), for his kind support of this project and, in particular, for clarifying the reasons for the rivalry’s one-year interruption in 1996.
    Allen F. Mead (1916–2012) (Class of 1933, Geneva), longtime editor and publisher of the Geneva Republican (1950–1986) and founding member of the Little Seven Conference Sportswriters Association, for graciously sharing his renowned knowledge of Geneva athletics with me.
    Stacey L. Peterson, Adult Services manager, Batavia Public Library, for her interest in and support of this project, and for her leadership in establishing Batavia’s award-winning local history Web site, www.BataviaHistory.org, in collaboration with the Batavia Historical Society.
    Dennis J. Piron, Jr. (Class of 1983, Batavia), to whom “The Biggest Game of the Season” is dedicated (see above), and for his support and friendship.
    Ronald L. Rawson (Geneva), former archivist at the Geneva History Center, for passing along newspaper articles of interest to this project.
    Jeane S. Roberts (1915–2010) (Class of 1933, Batavia) for generously giving me her copy of the 1933 district basketball tournament program, in which Batavia was the only team with a nickname  (Vikings!).
    Alvin C. Sager (1918–2009) (Class of 1937, Batavia) for enthusiastically sharing his knowledge of Batavia history, in general, and Batavia athletics, in particular.
    Jeffery D. Schielke (Class of 1967, Batavia), a 6th-generation Batavian, Batavia mayor since 1981, and co-author of Historic Batavia, for always providing new (to me) stories of Batavia history, as well as for his interest in and support of this project.
    George F. Von Hoff (1921–2010) (Class of 1940, Batavia), an enthusiastic supporter of Batavia athletics who was recognized as “Fan of the Year” in 2003, for his reminiscences of Batavia High School and Batavia athletics.
    Kurt N. Wehrmeister (Class of 1975, Geneva), director of communications and public affairs for Moose International, and former longtime public address announcer at Geneva Community High School, who, with the help of Coach Jerry Auchstetter, solved the riddle of Logan Field.
     

There are many others, too numerous to name, who have supported this project in some fashion. Thank you, one and all.

Corrections or additions are encouraged. (For example, I am lacking the names of Geneva coaches for 1913–1914, 1916, and 1918.) Please contact the author at AskUs [at] BataviaPublicLibrary [dot] org.

[1]Long, “For Sheetz [sic], history comes one score at a time.”
[2]According to Marilyn G. Robinson, she was told by her friend and fellow teacher, Lydia Jeane Stafney, that Dr. Storm "told her that one of his regrets about his years at Batavia was that he did not allow the students to have a yearbook."