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What a ‘dirtbag’
Former Knight Dixon finds role with Joliet Dirtbags men’s team
KANELAND—For countless players of high school baseball, playing for your school is all you can hope for, much less be on a field celebrating a State championship.
Kaneland High School graduate Brian Dixon checked both of those things off his list in 2011.
Now, after suiting up for the Millikin University Big Blue the last two seasons, the former Knight also finds himself in the amateur men’s baseball circuit.
Dixon currently plays for the Joliet Dirtbags, a team that is part of the Chicago Suburban Baseball League. The league features teams from the Chicagoland area, including from Lombard and Oswego, Ill. Home games for the Dirtbags take place at Joliet Catholic High School during the summer.
Featuring players in college or one year out of college, the CSBL has seen a select few make it to Major League Baseball, like most recent examples Ian Krol (Naperville, Ill.) of the Washington Nationals and George Kontos (Lincolnwood, Ill.) of the San Francisco Giants.
Dixon, an Art/Graphics Design major at Millikin, just wanted to be in the best baseball shape he could be.
“I got to know Coach (Kevin) Campbell at Millikin, and when he mentioned there was a spot on the team, I took it,” Dixon said.
Dixon, who patrols second for the fourth-year Dirtbags, has seen a marked improvement in his game in his first year for the CSBL.
“I’ve really improved on hitting and getting on base since Kaneland,” Dixon said. “I’ve gotten stronger and had more confidence.”
Going as far as Waukegan, Ill., for league games, Dixon has become accustomed to the amateur travel setting, helped by his play for Millikin, and the five-strong Millikin connection in Joliet that includes fellow State champ Kyle Davidson.
“There’s a lot of guys from St. Francis in Joliet, and there’s some guys with Millikin, including coach Campbell. It was easy to step into that group right away, and now we’re all familiar with each other,” Dixon said.”
Campbell feels Dixon is a player the 10-8 Dirtbags are fortunate to have.
Dixon is hitting .273 with an on base percentage of .418.
“Guys like him are good to build around, and I’ve seen them in action. You can stick them in the eight or nine-hole and they hold their own against teams with Division I talent,” Campbell said.
For now, Dixon doesn’t seem to mind what pedigree the other teams like the Oswego Cats bring to the diamond. When he’s not working at the Kane County Forest Preserve or hanging with friends, he’s happy to play like a Dirtbag.
“It’s a team with good players, and it’s definitely competitive,” Dixon said.