How this Kewanee batboy became a renowned surgeon

Dean De Witt Lewis, by Erik G. Haupt, oil on canvas, 1931
Dean De Witt Lewis, by Erik G. Haupt, oil on canvas, 1931

On September 7, 1885, the Chicago White Stockings (later the Chicago Cubs) beat Kewanee’s top amateur team 12 – 1 on the North Main Grounds on North Main Street before a crowd of 2,000 fans.

The White Stockings had two soon-to-be famous men on their team: “Cap” Anson, an early baseball legend, and Billy Sunday, then a ballplayer but later a renowned evangelical.

However, the Kewanee club had fame coursing through its veins, too, in the form of a young batboy who would become a world-famous surgeon, chairman of the department of surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and surgeon-in- chief for The Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Dean De Witt Lewis was born on August 11, 1874, in Kewanee, to Lyman Wright Lewis, a merchant, and Virginia Winifred (Cully) Lewis. The family lived near the corner of Tremont and First Streets in a house which had been built the year of Kewanee’s founding.

Dean Lewis, "mascot" (batboy), 1886 Haxtun Steam Heaters baseball team.

The young Lewis was smart as a whip in his classes while attending our hometown’s schools. Lewis also loved sports. But baseball was his true love.

He played ball with friends and neighbors growing up. They played in open lots in the neighborhood as well as in Rockwell’s pasture, a field located a little north and west of the future site of St. Francis hospital, bounded by today’s Prospect, Rockwell, and Beach Streets.


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