Cubs connection with Warren Giles highlights Moline man’s legacy

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MOLINE, Illinois -

As the Cubs get ready for Game Two of the World Series, there's a century-old connection to the Quad Cities that's back in the spotlight.

Moline's only baseball Hall of Famer still inspires generations of players nearly 50 years after his death.

That magical moment for the Cubs represents a remarkable legacy.

"I'm going to present the Warren C. Giles Trophy if I can lift it," quipped Joe Torre at Wrigley Field, moments after the Cubs knocked off the Dodgers to win the National League Championship.

On a chilly October day about three hours away in Moline, Illinois, baseball usually fades like the falling leaves.

But a nine-year-old future Anthony Rizzo (really named Chase Henry) takes his cuts at the Warren Giles Baseball Complex.

"It's all about community, and Warren Giles is such an integral part of our community," said Jack Burns, longtime president of the Moline Little League.

Warren Giles got into organized baseball by speaking up instead of playing.

"They finally said, if you're so smart, why don't you take over," said Bob White, who portrayed Giles for a reenactment.  "And he did."

Boy, did he ever take over.

The Moline man and World War I veteran began a championship run as a baseball executive that took him from the minors to the majors.

"When you think about it, baseball was pretty much in his mind constantly," said author David Coopman, who chronicled Giles' half-century in the game, including 18 years as National League president.

Giles was instrumental in expanding major league baseball to the West Coast and Canada. He also  managed to get along with owners, players and umpires.

"He saw that baseball had to change with time and come into the modern world," Coopman said.

That career coming full circle in 2002 with a nostalgic presentation in Moline.

Warren's son, Bill Giles, a top baseball executive himself, returned to Moline to dedicate the Warren Giles Baseball Complex for Moline's Little League.

"He loved his family first, baseball second and Moline third," Bill said at the time.

These days, the monument sparks curiosity and questions from kids born long after his death in 1979 at age 82.

"We can really use this as an avenue to teach about the history of Moline and about the history of baseball," Burns said.

Giles entered baseball's Hall of Fame the same year he died.

At Moline's Riverside Cemetery, his grave site isn't far from the fields named after him.

"He loved the Quad Cities," White said.  "He was very loyal to us. He came back here to announce his retirement from baseball."

"Let's face it," Coopman concluded.  "He did an awful lot for baseball."

Warren Giles did an awful lot for Moline, too.