The only number retired at Illinois Field is 1948 American League MVP Lou Boudreau.
Bren Spillane’s No. 9 might not join Boudreau on the right-field wall, but he’s certainly made the case.
Spillane was named Collegiate Baseball Newspaper’s National Player of the Year on Thursday morning, just a week after being named Big Ten Player of the Year following his stat-filled 2018 junior campaign.
Spillane is the first Illini to win the award in its 35-year history, and he did it after leading the nation in slugging percentage (.903), OPS (1.401), home runs per game (0.46) and weighted on-base average (.569).
He was also batting above .400 for a majority of the season, reaching .500 in mid-April.
The slugging percentage is good for second in Illinois single-season history, and he finished with an absurd 23 home run, second to only Josh Klimek’s 26 in 1996.
The Wheeling, Illinois, native had eight RBI in a breakout game against Cal State Northridge in March and three home runs in a game at Southern Illinois.
Spillane is the first Illinois national player of the year since Andrew Riley took home Men’s Track honors in 2012.
Illinois missed the NCAA Tournament after finishing 33-20 and bowing out in the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament to Purdue.
Spillane is likely to get drafted in the early rounds of next week’s draft, and Major League scouts filled the stands at Illinois Field in the latter part of the season.
If you didn’t get to see Spillane play this season, I’m sorry. It was something else that will likely never be seen again at Illinois Field.