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Answering The Hall's Call

  • Bob Pavelonis is joined by his sons, Britt (left) and Bobby after the elder was inducted into the Union University Hall Of Fame this past weekend. Pavelonis played both basketball and baseball at Union and was the first athlete to earn all-conference honors in two sports.

    Bob Pavelonis is joined by his sons, Britt (left) and Bobby after the elder was inducted into the Union University Hall Of Fame this past weekend. Pavelonis played both basketball and baseball at Union and was the first athlete to earn all-conference honors in two sports.
    JANICE PAVELONIS

 
By Spyder Dann mdann@dailyregister.com
updated: 7/17/2020 8:48 AM

When Bob Pavelonis played at Union University from 1959-1963, he did so, playing two sports for head coach Jack Russell.
Pavelonis and Russell didn't always get along and on occasion, Russell would tell Pavelonis that if he didn't straighten up, the coach was going to send him back to "Harris Ridge."
It's a funny moment now for Harrisburg's Pavelonis, as the 78-year-old, was inducted into the Union University Hall Of Fame this past weekend.
Pavelonis played at the Jackson, Tennessee campus from 1959-1963, playing basketball and baseball. He received varsity letters in basketball in 1960, 1961 and 1962. He earned three baseball varsity letters (1959-61).
Pavelonis was named all-conference twice in basketball (1962, 1963) and once in baseball (1961). He was the first athlete in Union University history to earn all-conference honors in two sports.
In basketball, Pavelonis averaged 16.2 points per game as a freshman, 13 points as a sophomore, 14 points as a junior and 17 points as a senior. He set the free throw percentage record for a season with an .854 percentage. He currently sits in fifth place all-time in FT% for a season. His best game was a 33-point outing as a senior vs. Christian Brothers.
In baseball, Pavelonis earned a starting role after a pitch-hit 3-run home run in the fourth game of the season against Memphis State. After his freshman season, Pavelonis was offered $15,00 and a contract by the San Fransisco Giants, but decided to remain at Union to finish his education.
However, after his player career at Union, Pavelonis joined the Giants spring training in Arizona as a free agent and was assigned to the Springfield AA Team.
Following his playing career, Pavelonis returned home and spent the next 35 years as an English teacher, as well as, boys' basketball coach from 1972-1977 and golf for 30-plus years.
The ceremony was something Pavelonis said he took great joy in, while joking, "it only took me 55 years to get in!"
Pavelonis' memories while at Union likely come from baseball, where the Bulldogs fielded some pretty good teams and notched wins over Purdue, Western Illinois and Memphis.
His time at Union and learning under Russell, he believes, made Pavelonis the coach he was for many years.
"I got to see different approaches to coaching playing both basketball and baseball. Then again, my basketball coach was also my baseball coach, but I learned a lot from him. Even if he did think I was from Harris Ridge!"

Spyder Dann covers prep and college sports for the Southern Illinois LOCAL Media News Group. Follow him on Twitter: @spydieshooter.