Home Illinois Coach Mike Napoleon, with the help of Kerry Wood, is eyeing the...

Coach Mike Napoleon, with the help of Kerry Wood, is eyeing the all-time state title.


NORTHFIELD, Ill. – Mike Napoleon didn’t want to talk about “the number.”

“My sons always knew about it. My wife, Melanie, says, “Okay. How much is it? 14 more? Or 15 more?” I say, “Stop!”

951 wins was taboo for the New Trier head coach, a number unmatched in Illinois high school baseball history.

But the reality was that Coach Knaps, who began his career in 1985 at Notre Dame, was poised to break the record this year.

“I did all my research the night before, looking at all the coaches’ wins,” explained Trevians senior third baseman Graham Mastros. “It’s pretty impressive what he did.”

April 27thousandThe Trevians shut out Glenbrook North, putting Napoleon alone at the top of the record books.

“I’m very competitive and the kids know that. I hope that goes for every team I’ve ever coached. That they are competitive, but they also play the game the right way. Win with dignity. They will lose with dignity. I think that’s why many opposing coaches admire the teams I’ve coached.”

“951 is a lot of games. This is a great achievement for him,” added Mastros.

The victories continued.

His team is now two wins away from their third state title of the year, Napoleon’s only loss in 27 seasons at the helm.

“He would trade all 951 for state championship number three,” noted Pete Drewline, Napoleon’s assistant for 21 years. “Without a doubt.”

Kerry Wood knows a thing or two about the big games. The former Cub is a volunteer assistant coach for Napoleon.

“I drive by the field all the time, so I just found out who the coach was and said, ‘Hey, I don’t know if you need help or not, but I’m always there. I live a mile from the field, so if you have anything interesting, I’d be willing to come and play.”

“I told him, ‘Look, I can’t pay you.’ He seemed to laugh at me. I said, “You have to take some tests.” He says, “This will be the first test I’ve had in a long time.”

Wood can coach his son, Justin, and his players can study the brain of the 14-year MLB vet.

“He always has something to add to the conversation,” observed Mastros. “Throughout the game, he knows what’s going to happen — what pitch is going to be thrown, the hole in people’s swings. It’s just amazing how he knows so much about the game.”

“Sometimes I’ll say to our assistants or to a kid, ‘Hey, you know you’ve got something special,'” Napoleon added. “It’s not going to happen every year, you know?”

“I think they’re kind of through the noise that I’m whoever I am. I’m just another guy in the dugout.”

Wherever they go for advice, the Trevians are in good hands.

After beating Stevenson 2-0 on Monday, they will now face Brother Rice in the semifinals. Even if they end the weekend with the state crown, don’t expect Napoleon to ride off into the sunset.

“Bottom line: I like doing what I do and I’ll keep going until someone tells me not to.”


Previous articleIs smoke expected from a Canadian wildfire in Chicago?
Next articleA Decatur man called 911 and confessed to killing his wife | Main stories