Former Illini third baseman Luke Simmons will be inducted into the Cherry Creek High School Baseball Hall of Fame on Saturday.
Jan. 29, 2010
CHERRY CREEK, Colo. - Former Illinois third baseman Luke Simmons will be inducted into the Cherry Creek High School Baseball Hall of Fame on Saturday at The Wildlife Experience in Parker, Colo. Simmons helped Cherry Creek to three Colorado state titles from 1996-98 and went on to become a Collegiate Baseball Freshman All-American with the Illini in 1999 when he hit a freshman school record .386 with seven home runs and 38 RBIs.
"The Cherry Creek baseball program has a wonderful tradition and a long list of guys who have played at the collegiate and professional levels, so to be considered among the elite from that group is a tremendous honor," Simmons said. "Getting to celebrate with our '98 5A state championship team is thrilling. Playing for Cherry Creek absolutely changed the trajectory of my life in a great way and I am extremely thankful that God gave me that opportunity."
Simmons will be honored along with seven other Hall of Fame inductees as well as his 1998 state championship team. That team included six Big Ten players, leading Simmons' Illinois teammates to dub Cherry Creek as "Big Ten Prep." During that state championship run in 1998, Simmons hit .406 with three home runs and 28 RBIs, earning All-Colorado honors from the Rocky Mountain News. He also was named Cherry Creek's Male Athlete of the Year despite playing only baseball.
Simmons also participated in the Top 40 Senior Game at Coors Field in 1998 and was selected to play on the American Amateur Baseball Congress (AABC) All-Star team in the National Amateur All-Star Baseball Tournament in Chicago in the summer of 1998.
Simmons was a major part of the Illini offense as the designated hitter in 1999 - his freshman season - earning second-team All-Big Ten honors and Freshman All-American laurels from Collegiate Baseball. He was the DH again in 2000, also earning second-team All-Big Ten honors while helping the Illini to a 41-23 record, a Big Ten Tournament championship and a berth in the NCAA Clemson Regional. Simmons moved to third base in 2001 and earned All-Big Ten third team honors at the position in 2001 and 2002, finishing his career with a .354 career average, which ranks 14th in school history, and the fifth-best Big Ten career average (.357). He also ranks in the top 10 in school history in career and Big Ten career hits, career and Big Ten career RBIs, Big Ten career doubles, career hit by pitch, and career and Big Ten career total bases.
"My favorite memories always include fun times with teammates and winning," Simmons said. "At Cherry Creek, we won the state title my senior year when most people thought we didn't have much of a chance. At Illinois, I remember the long, hard work that our team put in to constantly improve and compete at a high level. Of course, winning the 2000 Big Ten Tournament remains a great memory. One specific thing that I'm very proud of is starting the "Wiffleball Sunday" tradition with Jeff Gertz. I also remember the game in 1999 when Kevin Rudden, Jon Hall and I - all Cherry Creek graduates - hit home runs."
Simmons now is the lead pastor at Second Mile Church in Gilbert, Ariz., a church he helped plant in the summer of 2008.