By Randy Whalen
For the Bugle
With the postseason approaching, Jonathan Butler plans to help the Minooka baseball team in anyway he can.
While Butler has been a multisport athlete at Minooka, baseball has been his main love.
As a senior he’d literally love to help the Indians finish the season strong.
“Ever since I can remember I’ve always loved baseball,” Butler said. “Just being outside and having a brother who plays it that’s close to me in age.”
That brother is 2016 Minooka graduate Joe Butler, who is currently finishing up his freshman season at Illinois State University.
But Jonathan, who is the youngest of four children, has certainly made a name for himself.
“He’s an incredible athlete, but even a better person,” Minooka baseball coach Jeff Petrovic said of Jonathan. “They were all great kids and a great family, but Jon is just a heck of an athlete. He’s the epitome of a great baseball player. He does so many little things.”
Butler hopes to do one of those little things again by the end of the season: Pitch. That, however, may not happen.
“I strained my oblique muscle,” Butler said of the injury that’s kept him from taking the mound in the first half of the season. “I’m hoping to come back, but I won’t come back until I’m 100 percent healthy.”
But the injury hasn’t sidelined him from batting in the mid .300’s and playing an excellent center field.
“He’s so important in the batting order and he’s so important in the outfield,” Petrovic said. “He’s right there with the best outfielders I’ve had. He’s got every tool.”
When it came to a college choice, however, Butler decided none of the offers from 4-year schools fit him.
“He got a lot of looks from D2 and D3 schools,” Petrovic said. “But he committed to play at Heartland Community College. They’re a force.”
They certainly are as the HCC baseball page touts these accomplishments: There’s 135 players who have moved through the HCC baseball program and went on to complete a 4-year degree.
Of those 121 student-athletes moved on to play baseball at 4-year programs, with 84 joining NCAA Division-1 programs. Then 15 went on to play professional baseball.
“I had a couple of D1 looks, but they weren’t able to give scholarships,” Butler said. “So I decided to go to a junior college, get better and hopefully get a scholarship.”
It doesn’t hurt that Heartland is located in Bloomington, just down the street from Illinois State. So Butler, who plans to eventually major in chemical or mechanical engineering, will be able to see his brother a bit more easily.
“It’s more of a coincidence,” Butler said of the proximity between the two schools. “I just really liked Heartland.”
He’s also really liked playing sports for the Indians. Butler played as a defensive back on the football for three seasons before giving it up this past fall to concentrate on baseball.
“It was a tough decision, but I think the right one,” said Butler, who played on the Midwest Scout Baseball team for the Cincinnati Reds last fall. “I wanted to play fall baseball and get more looks.”
But he didn’t give up basketball. In fact the 6-foot-2 1/2 inch Butler was a 4-year starter on the Indians’ hoops team and scored 37 points on Feb. 10 of this season in 61-48 home victory over Romeoville.
During his time as a varsity basketball player, he played everything from point guard to post. But it was a moment his junior season that remains his top one in high school to this point.
“I really enjoyed junior year when we won [the Class 4A] regional title,” Butler said of the Indians 49-31 home victory on March 4, 2016 over a Bolingbrook team that took third in the state both the year before and after that. “We won it on our home court, before all our fans, That was special.”
Did Butler consider playing basketball in college, instead of baseball?
“Maybe a little, but not really,” he said. “Baseball is my true passion and I think I can excel at the next level there.”
And in the meantime help the Indians to a good finish here.
“We have a good team [at Minooka] this year, but we know there’s a lot of good teams,” Butler said. “We have to be ready come regional time and all finish strong