My series on Illinois born major league baseball players.

The “Boys of Summer”


Bill Zies



William Zies was born on June 16, 1867 in Rock Island Illinois that played in two games (August 9-10, 1891 for the St. Louis Browns. He took three at bats in the major leagues and got one hit and was a catcher.

He died April 16, 1907 at the age of 39 and is buried in Beardstown, Illinois.


Joe Charboneau


Joseph Charboneau was born in Belvidere, Il on June 17, 1955. He had a rocky but sometimes successful career that was filled was eccentric behavior and fan adornment. As a 21 yr old, he was drafted in the 11976 amateur draft by te Minnesota Twins and he didn’t sign. In the supplemental draft in December the Phillies took him and he was assigned to the Class A Western Carolina League. He played in 43 game and hit .298 for them. He wasn’t happy as he was always in a fight with management over several issues. The next year he went to Minnesota and played in the California League for Visalia abd hit .35o for the season. During the off-season, he got into a fight at a bar and Cleveland decided to move him with a trade to Cleveland. He was sent to Chattanooga (AA) and led the Southern League with a .352 batting average.

He was going to go to AAA for Cleveland in 1980 until one of the regulars got hurt and they brought him into Spring Training. However, on March 8, a fan stuck a knofe four inches into hiss gut and hit a rib knocking him out for the beginning of the season. He made his debut on April 11, 1980 with the Indians. He went 1-for-4 with a home run in the 5th inning and the craziness began. He quickly became a fan favorite, whether it was from his tendency to dye his hair different colors, open beer bottles with his eye socket or drinking beer with a straw through his nose.


Joseph Charboneau (born June 17, 1955) is a former Major League Baseball player for the Cleveland Indians in the early 1980s. Bursting on the scene in 1980, Charboneau captured Cleveland’s imagination, not just with his production but also his eccentricities. Charboneau had a tendency to dye his hair unnatural colors, as well as open beer bottles with his eye socket and drink beer with a straw through his nose. Other stories emerged about how he did his own dental work and fixed a broken nose with a pair of pliers and a few shots of Jack Daniel’s whiskey, stood out; by mid-season, Charboneau was the subject of a song, “Go Joe Charboneau”, that reached #3 on the local charts. He was also on the cover of several local Cleveland magazines. After winning the AL Rookie of the Year award in 1980, by hitting .289 with 23 homers and 87 runs batted in.

His career quickly flamed out amidst injuries. He is one of the most oft-cited examples of baseball’s fabled sophomore jinx, holding the record for the fewest career games played in the Major Leagues by a Rookie of the Year, with 201.He injured his back sliding headfirst  and tried to play through the pain but with no avail. Hitting only .208 he was fortunate the 1981 Major League Baseball strike interrupted the season. After play resumed, he was sent to the minors for 18 games and returned to the Indians. His season numbers show he hit 4 home runs with 18 runs batted in and a .210 batting average. He had back surgery in the winter.

Things didn’t get any better for him in 1982 and he was sent back to Chattanooga and hit poorly. In 1983 he was given his release after giving a fan an obscene gesture. The Pirates took him on in 1984 and he hit .289 in the minor leagues but he retired shortly after that.

He made an appearance in the movie “The Natural” as a teammate of Roy Hobbs and then he tried several different venturew. Today, he is a manager of the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League.



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