November 15, 2010
Cancer Claims SIU’s Callahan at 52
Illinois University baseball coach Dan Callahan died Monday at
the age of 52 after losing a battle with neurotropic melanoma, a
rare form of skin cancer.
Callahan, or “Cal” as he was affectionately known, spent 16
seasons as the head coach at Southern Illinois and compiled a
record of 442-447-1. He arrived in Carbondale after going
153-158-1 in five seasons at Eastern Illinois.
told, Callahan went 595-605-2 and is one of just five coaches in
Missouri Valley Conference history to win more than 200
guess outside of being close friends with him, the thing I’m
going to take from him is his courage and his attitude,” said
Indiana State coach Rick Heller, who visited Callahan at the
hospital earlier Monday. “He went through so much and so much
pain the past four or five years…And you never heard him
complain…I just never had any doubts that he was going to beat
fall, the popular and humorous coach received the MVC Most
Courageous Award, an award given to a student-athlete, coach or
university administrator who demonstrates unusual courage in the
face of personal illness, adversity or tragedy and whose
behavior reflects honor on the institution or the conference.
was the guy that if you weren’t playing him, you always wanted
him to do well,” said Missouri State coach Keith Guttin, whose
coaching battles with Callahan date to the late 1980s. “He was
very well liked and very respected among the league’s coaches.
was a hell of a competitor. But when the game was over, he was
the first guy to congratulate you if you did something and
compliment your ballclub.”
Creighton coach Ed Servais remembered the night his Bluejays won
their first MVC conference title in 2007 in Springfield, Mo. The
game with Wichita State was delayed by weather and didn’t end
until after midnight. When Servais got back to his room around
1:45 in the morning, his cell phone rang.
and behold, the person who called me at that time was Dan
Callahan,” Servais said. “Cal didn’t even have my cell number.
I’m not sure how he got it. But he called late night, and it
just tells you a little bit more what he’s all about.”
Servais added: “I have not met a better
person in 28 years of coaching baseball. A great guy that loved
baseball and his players. I am a better coach having competed
recalled a similar story to Servais.
year was 1993 and Heller was starting his career at Division
III’s Upper Iowa. The first time he met Callahan was when he
called and told Heller that he knew of his reputation of playing
anybody at any time. He asked Heller if his squad would come
down to play since its field was under snow, and Heller made it
still keeps the letter that Callahan sent him the following week
thanking him and his team for playing the games in his office.
He also remembers the voice mails he’d receive from his friend
whether his team won or lost a series against Callahan’s clubs.
didn’t matter if he won or lost, it was the same thing every
time,” Heller said. “And a friendship was a lot deeper than a
baseball game. He was that way with everybody.”
Guttin: “This was a guy come the ABCA convention, he was the
host. He was very popular and well liked among a lot of coaches.
He was everyone’s friend.”
Callahan, a native of Springfield, Ill., pitched for two seasons
at New Orleans before graduating from Quincy College in 1981 and
pitching for several seasons in the San Diego Padres and Seattle
Mariners organizations. He spent time at Springfield Lanphier
High School and at his alma mater, Springfield High School,
before starting his college coaching career as a graduate
assistant at SIU in 1986.
Callahan is survived by his wife Stacy, daughters Alexa (19) and
Carly (14) and parents Ann and Gene. Funeral arrangements are
pending. In lieu of flowers, the Callahan family requests
memorials are made to the Callahan Medical Fund in care of the
SIU credit union and/or to the Dan Callahan Memorial Fund that
will be set up through the SIU Foundation to benefit the Saluki
a real sad day for all of us and a real sad day for baseball,”
(photos courtesy of SIU Media