Legend lost: Bob Bennett, a man for all sports

The following is another "Have Fun or Get Out of the Way" column by award winning Don Leighton and Mike Granlund and their alter egos, Lance Boyle and Billy Pirkola, which runs occasionally in The Superior Telegram.

Bob Bennett

The following is another "Have Fun or Get Out of the Way" column by award winning Don Leighton and Mike Granlund and their alter egos, Lance Boyle and Billy Pirkola, which runs occasionally in The Superior Telegram.

One of Superior's finest athletes from days gone by has left us. On Friday, March 4, Bob Bennett took his last at bat at the age of 80. Part of professional sports history in a city rich in athletic tradition, Bennett was a sports legend that excelled at his beloved baseball but also in football, basketball and boxing.

Bennett was born in Cicero, Ill., on July, 25, 1930 of Irish-Italian descent. While attending Proviso Township High School, he played four years each of football, basketball and baseball and competed for two years C.Y.O boxing. He was captain of two state championship baseball teams and fought in the Chicago Golden Gloves in 1947.

The "Clipper," as he was called on the diamond because of admiration and respect for Joe DiMaggio, stood 6-foot-3 and weighed 200 pounds and had an incredible arm.

No less authority, fellow professional ball player and long-time Superior High School baseball coach, Ron Orlandi, remembers Bennett with fondness.


"Although Bob and I didn't have a lot of playing time together, I know that when he did play, he did it well," Orlandi said. "He was an outfielder and had played in the Brooklyn Dodgers organization. At that time, they ranked their ballplayers according to their strengths and abilities. The No. 1 ranked player for arm strength was Carl Furillo, No. 2 was Duke Snider and No. 3 was Bob Bennett."

Bennett's career spanned the years 1948-52 with the Chicago White Sox and Brooklyn Dodger organizations. He was scouted by Hall of Famer and former St. Louis Browns player, George Sisler.

Bennett was a big fan of former St. Louis Cardinal, Pepper Martin. Bennett had said that Martin "put the will to win in me no matter what I was doing."

Bennett took up residency in Superior and was a member of the 1952 championship Superior Blues baseball team. He suffered a broken jaw after being hit by a pitched ball but only missed a month of playing time.

After that season, Bennett decided to get on with his life and married the love of his life, Superior's Dolores Chicras on Feb. 14, 1953. That year he also started working for the Superior Police Department and began working his way up the ranks to Chief of Police before his retirement in 1989. While chief, he was appointed by Wisconsin Governor Patrick Lucey to the Governor's Law Enforcement Standard Board and was reappointed by Governor Martin Schreiber.

While doing his "day job", Bennett devoted more than 15 years to his love, baseball. He was president of the Superior youth Organization, Little League Baseball and commissioner of Babe Ruth Baseball. Beside loving baseball, he loved kids and wanted them to enjoy and experience the passion he had for the greatest game ever invented. He was also a member of the Professional Baseball Players of America Association.

Orlandi has more thoughts about his friend.

"We met in 1953 and my first impression of Bob never changed over the years," Orlandi said. "As far as I'm concerned, he was a great person to me and to others. He truly cared about the well-being of those around him. Whenever we had a chance to get together, we had wonderful discussions of the lives we led and our experiences in professional baseball. We never got to the 'majors,' but we were both proud of the years we spent trying to get there."


Bob Bennett is now in the major leagues. How appropriate that spring training is in full swing as this is written. If you listen closely, with eyes closed, you can hear the chatter of ball players working at their craft. You can smell the dew on the grass and hear the smack of wood bat on horsehide covered ball. You can also hear Bob Bennett calling off Furillo and Hodges as he camps under a high fly ball.

Things are right with the world. Bob Bennett is free from any pain and is playing the sport he loves for the ultimate team. He was and is a winner.

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1952 Superior Blues

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