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  • Writer's picturePana Sports Foundation

Larry Gene Spinner (Class of 1953) - 2023 Hall of Fame Inductee

Larry Spinner was a four-sport athlete who graduated from Pana Township High School in 1953, earning eleven varsity letters during his career.

Larry was a halfback who scored his first varsity touchdown as a freshman. He was the football team captain as well as an All-Conference selection his senior year. Additionally, Larry was named to the All-State Team and was the first recipient of the Albert “Butch” Nowack Award for the varsity football team’s MVP (selected by teammates). During his senior year, Larry gained 1,282 yards rushing on 147 carries for an average of 8.7 yards/carry, and an average of 142.4 yards/game. The team finished with an 8-1 record and won the Mid-State Conference.

In his first two seasons, Larry played the position of guard on the basketball team. His last two seasons he became a forward. The basketball team finished second in the conference. Larry was also a catcher on the baseball team. While the baseball team was not as successful as the football team, Larry said he liked playing football, but loved playing baseball.

After being recruited by Oklahoma, Purdue, and Wisconsin (among other universities), Larry accepted a football scholarship to the University of Illinois. He played on the freshman first team, which practiced against the varsity team (ranked #3 in the country). Freshmen were not allowed to play varsity at the time.

In the spring of 1954, Larry signed a contract to play minor league baseball for the Cleveland Indians (currently Cleveland Guardians). He played the positions of Third Baseman, Catcher, and Outfielder during his minor league career. Larry would go on to play for the Tifton Indians (Georgia-Florida league), Keokuk Kernals (Illinois-Indiana-Iowa league), Fayetteville Highlanders (Carolina league), and the Reading Indians (Eastern league). His four-year career batting average was .272; career fielding percentage as a third baseman - .909; catcher - .973; and outfielder - .973.

Larry Spinner was self-employed as a barber for 60+ years – initially in Pana – but worked most of his professional career in Springfield, IL. Larry is a member of St. Patrick’s Catholic Church.

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