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Quote From Larry Lashley:

The best athlete I ever saw was Lloyd Batts. He did in two years what took Tracy Webster four years to do, that is to be the all-time leading scorer at Thornton Township High School. Lloyd averaged 35 points a game and would have averaged more if there had been a 3-point line. Imagine how many points he could have scored if he would have played during his freshman and sophomore years. During his freshman and sophomore years he could not play varsity sports.

My number two choice would have to be Richard Halbert, who was the leader of the state championship team of 1966 at Thornton. He was a quiet leader who led by example.My third choice would have to be Hershel Lewis who is probably the smoothest player I had ever seen.

One other name that stands out is that of Donnell Sanderfer. It is hard to believe but Darnell started as a 3rd grader on the 7th grade team at Coolidge. I am sure that no athlete will ever match him.Another memorable person from Phoenix was not an athlete but a person who supported the athletic program and that was Mr. Chuck Hill known to all as “Uncle Chuck.” During the 1960s when the school did not have enough money for trophies, Mr. Hill would buy the trophies out his money to make sure that we received some small measure of reward. It is one of the secrets that very few people knew about and he should be commended for it.

Who was the best singer you ever heard from Phoenix?​​​​​​​​​​

Dorothy Carter:

The most beautiful voice I ever heard was that of Mrs. Dorothy Miller. I just loved to hear her sing. My favorite song was, “I’ll Fly Away”.

Joda Boykin:

I think that Harold Jones had a great voice. His voice had an opera quality about it. In fact, I think that he did sing opera. Bill Ivy is another one who had a great singing voice.

Terry R. Wells:

The two that came to my mind are Robert Jackson and Felicia Wyatt.  If you want tears to flow at a funeral let either one of these two start singing.

Justine Hagler (deceased):

The best I ever heard was Eloise Treadwell.  I would sit on the step of my house and listen to her sing.  Fiinally I decided to join New Convenant.  She was the reason I joined.

Selena Parr:

I have heard several very good singers from Phoenix.  Two that come to mind are former Mayor January Belmont and Juanita Robert.  They have beautiful opera style voices. Also Mrs. Barr has a beautiful voice.  She put a lot of feelings into her singing.

Ruth Barr:

The best I ever heard was Fred Carraway.  When he sang he did it from the heart. Everyone in the church could feel whatever emotion he was feeling. Mary Butler was another person with a beautiful voice.

Robert Jackson:

My choice would have to be Jessie May Williams. She could bring you to your knees with her singing. We actually had a singing group years ago called the Jackson Singers. We recorded a song entitled “These Are They.”  The group consisted of Sonny Banks, Robert Jackson, Cornelius Stoudemire, and Jesse Williams.

Leatrice Brown:

The best singer I ever heard had to be Harold Jones. I remember he came to Thornton Township High School to sing and simply turned the place out. He had such a strong booming voice. The best musician had to be Daniel Banks.  He mastered that piano like no one I have ever seen.

Inez Hawkins:

One of the best singers had to be Cornelius Taylor. She had such a beautiful voice. Another person who could sing very well was Effie and Rudy Long. Effie would play the piano while Rudy would sing but they both were two of the best singers that I’ve ever heard. The best male singer had to be Robert Jackson. He is old now (smile) but you should have heard him when he was younger.  He was something to hear!

Eddie Brown:

No doubt in my mind Harold Jones was the best. This man went to New York and became an opera star, no one in this area could touch him. The second best would have to be Robert Jackson. Any time there was a function and they needed someone to sing they would always call on Robert. It didn’t make any difference if the piano player showed up or not, he didn’t need anyone to accompany him. He would just pat his foot and just set the place on fire.

Loretta Wells:

From my generation, the best had to be Stacy Cantrell. Her voice was so inspiring and uplifting. She made you want to standup and shout.

This is a short list of others that weren’t mentioned: Duval Ross, Melba Ferrell, Marjorie Reed, Sharna Bullock, Gwen Dagans, Eva Parks, Otis Webster, Sheree Victorian, Esquilla Terry, Bonnie Latnie, William Allgood, and Andrew Brown

Phoenix Residential Survey

Opinion Questions: We asked several residents to answer these questions, do you agree with their answers?

Who is the best athlete you saw from Phoenix?

Carl Dillingham:

The best athlete was Quinn Buckner.  He was an All-American in football and basketball. He was one of the last athletes to play both sports in college and started in both. He was a great leader who made those around him better. He was also a true role model for the community. My second choice would be Art Riley. He was an excellent football player and led Thornridge to the state championship in football in 1970. He also excelled in track and field.  He was the state champion in the shot and discuss at Thornridge.

Thurman Anderson:

The best I ever saw was Greg Rose. He was a better athlete than he was a basketball player. He could have dominated in track or football if he had chosen to play. My second choice would be Nee Gatlin, he was the sixth man on the state championship team but he could have easily started. He was he best baseball player at Thornridge but because of prejudice they would not allow him to play.

Vernon Mitchell:

My vote goes to Curt Parham, he was an All-American baseball player. He was the number one rated baseball player in the nation as a junior. He was the starting tailback on the football team and was the starting point guard on the basketball team that only lost two games that season. I played on the baseball team with him and I assure you he was the best.

Billy Humprey:

The best was Quinn Buckner.  There is no doubt about it.

Michael Broome:

The best I ever saw was Michael Clark. Mike was about 6’4” and could play every position on the basketball floor. He was an excellent shooter and was as smooth as silk. I thought for sure that he would make it as a professional.

Duane Anderson:

The best I ever saw was Greg Rose. He was just simply a superb athlete. My second choice is one that will surprise you. It is a fellow named Chuckie Jenkins. He never played high school sports but around the playground he excelled at every sport he tried.

Rocky Hill:

No question.  The best I ever saw was Quinn Buckner. He was 6’3” 210lbs. solid as a rock, quick as a rattlesnake and mean as a junkyard dog. Living next door to him I got to see first hand how good he was. There is no athlete in this town that could hold down a candle to Quinn.

Jerry Wells:

A lot of people probably don’t remember that Darnell “Dusty” Sanderfer was one of the best athletes to ever play basketball in Phoenix. He was the quickest player I ever saw and was a true playground legend.

Ellis Banks:

The best I ever saw was Frances Hood.  He was an excellent pitcher and played for the Phoenix Tigers. That team had another good pitcher named Peaches, I don’t recall what his real name was but he and Frances were the best. That Phoenix Tigers team had a number of good players including Hubert Clark and Steve Ellison. Hubert was probably the best hitter and big Steve was the catcher and that team rarely lost. The Phoenix Tigers were sort of semi-pro baseball team that played against the other towns in the area.

Robert Jackson:

The best I ever saw was J.D. Lewis.  He was a excellent baseball player.  He could hit, pitch, and run better than anyone around. We were all sure that he would go pro. Sherman Cantrell was also an excellent athlete.  He had a tryout with the White Sox in the 1950s. J. D. Lewis was the father of Herschel Lewis, the all-state basketball player in ’68.

Eddie Brown:

That is a rather unfair question because there has been so many great athletes in Phoenix.  It is difficult to just say one, so I would mention several. J. D. Lewis was an outstanding pitcher and should have gone pro. Sherman Cantrell and the entire Cantrell family were outstanding players. Sherman had a tryout with the White Sox and should have made the team but they came up with an excuse (he was too short). This was the 1950s and prejudice was still a major problem. Darnell Sandford was an excellent all around athlete.  He excelled in football and track and was one of the first athletes from this community to receive an athletic scholarship, he graduated from either Iowa or Iowa State Teachers College. Joe Holly was another outstanding baseball player but was never given a chance to play at Thornton during the 1950s. He and Sherman were better that any of the players on the team but were never given a chance to play. Most people have probably forgotten this athlete, but he was one of the best wrestlers to attend Thornton Township High School.  His name was Levi Henderson. Levi was a two time state wrestling champion in the 1950s.

This is a short list of other athletes that weren’t mentioned:

Joe Warnell, all-state football player at Thornton Township High School, attended University of Missouri, with Johnny Roland.

Eric Herring, two time state basketball player at Thornton Township High School.

Eddie Herring, all-area basketball and baseball player at Thornton Township High School

Antonio Cooper, all-state basketball player at Thornridge, finished 3rd in the state in triple jump in 1991, attended Illinois State University.

Donnell Baylock, track and field, finished 3rd in state in long jump, member of 4×100 relay team finished 3rd in state in 1994, NCAA Division 2 indoor long jump champion 1996.

Tiffany Smith, member of Coolidge Tigers state champions 1991, member of Thornridge 1994 4x100meter relay tam that finished 4th in state.

Edgar Anderson, all-state baseball player Thornridge

Lorenzo Davis, All-American football and all state wrestler at Thornridge High School in 1983

Anthony White, led the Coolidge Tigers to 3 state championships in 1982-84. As a 6th grader, White was leading scorer on the 8th grade team and could dunk a basketball, he attended Thornwood High School and Akron University, Ohio.

Kim Winfield finished 2nd in the state in the 400 meter in 1996.

Kevin Duckworth, all-state basketball player at Thornridge High School, played twelve seasons in the NBA with Portland Trail Blazers.

Sam Mack, all state basketball player at Thornridge, played with the Golden State Warriors of the NBA

Kim McQuarter, All-American basketball player at Marshall High School

Lloyd Batts, considered by some to have been the greatest high school basketball star in Illinois history.

Venus Mims, “Too-Son” outstanding football & basketball player at Thornton Township High School

Homer Thomas, track star at Thornton Township High School.

Oliver Carter

James Snoddy

Marvin Wells

Boyd Batts

Joe Hawkins

Jimmy Winters

PeeWee Hamilton

Michael Henry

Lafayette Henry

Bill Cunningham

We are sure that a lot of great athletes have been missed. How many can you name?

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