|Organization:||University of Illinois|
Legendary Fighting Illini head coach Lee Eilbracht was the recipient of the 1972 ABCA/Wilson Lefty Gomez Award. Eilbracht compiled 518 wins in 27 seasons at the helm from 1952-78 along with being a three-time letterwinner as a player (1943, 46-47). The St. Louis, Missouri native won four Big Ten titles and led the Orange and Blue to the NCAA District Playoffs three times.
As an Illini player, Eilbracht was tabbed an All-American in 1947, picked up team MVP honors in 1946-47 and led the Big Ten in hitting in 1946 with a .484 batting average. Following a career in professional baseball as a player and manager in the Chicago Cubs' minor league system, Eilbracht was named Illinois' head coach in 1952. He guided the Illini to conference titles in his first two seasons (1952-53), followed by two more Big Ten championships in 1962-63. His Illinois squads also reached the NCAA District Playoffs in his debut season along with two more appearances in 1962-63.
Eilbracht was an Olympic coach in 1964 for the United States baseball team in Japan and served as the first Executive Director for the ABCA from 1978-87. The 1979 ABCA Hall of Fame inductee retired following the 1978 season and also worked as an analyst on Illini baseball broadcasts starting in the 1990s. For several major league spring trainings, Eilbracht was a consultant for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Named after the great Lefty Gomez, this annual award is presented to an individual who has distinguished himself among his peers and has contributed significantly to the game of baseball locally, nationally and internationally. The Lefty Gomez Award is sponsored by Wilson Sporting Goods.