Houston Astros vs Atlanta Braves: These 14 people have ties to Illinois

Wes Huett
Journal Star

The 2021 World Series between the Houston Astros and Atlanta Braves began this week in Houston and shifts to Atlanta for the weekend.

The final two teams standing in Major League Baseball include at least a dozen players, coaches or front office employees with ties to the state of Illinois. 

Houston Astros


Phil Maton

The Houston Astros 28-year-old pitcher, acquired at midseason from the Cleveland Indians, graduated from Chatham Glenwood near Springfield, which he led to a Class 3A state championship in 2010. His brother and fellow Glenwood grad Nick Maton plays for the Philadelphia Phillies.

Local ties:3 Chatham Glenwood grads were in MLB this season. Here's how they did

Houston Astros relief pitcher Phil Maton throws during the sixth inning against the Texas Rangers, Friday, Aug. 27, 2021, in Arlington, Texas.

Jake Ororizzi

The 31-year-old Houston Astros pitcher is a 2008 grad of Highland High School near St. Louis. He was 14-0 during his senior year, allowing just one earned run and striking out 146 in 89.2 innings while leading the Bulldogs to the Class 3A state title. He was Illinois Gatorade player of the year.

Michael Papierski

The 25-year-old Houston Astros catcher — not listed on the World Series roster — is a Palos Heights native and graduate of Lemont High School, located near Chicago. His senior year in 2014, the team captain and all-stater batted .410 to help Lemont to the Class 3A title. 


Ehsan Bokhari

The Houston Astros senior director of player evaluation earned his PhD in quantitative psychology from the University of Illinois in 2014 and a master's in statistics in 2011. 

Derrick Fong

The Houston Astros director of minor league operations is a native of the Chicago suburb of Wilmette.

Tom Jennings

The Houston Astros vice president of merchandising and retail operations was born in the Chicago suburb of Hinsdale.

Atlanta Braves' Jorge Soler celebrates his home run during the first inning of Game 1 in baseball's World Series between the Houston Astros and the Atlanta Braves Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Atlanta Braves 


Jorge Soler

The 29-year-old Atlanta Braves outfielder is a former Chicago Cubs prospect who in 2012 spent one season with the Peoria Chiefs of the Midwest League. He hit .338 with 3 HR and 4 SB in just 20 games with Peoria before three seasons with the Cubs, including their title run in 2016.

Where does he rate? The top 50 Peoria Chiefs players of all-time.

Brian Snitker

The 66-year-old Atlanta Braves sixth-year manager was born in Decatur and graduated in 1971 from Macon High School. Snitker was part of the state runner-up team that season, which was chronicled in the 2012 book “One Shot at Forever: A Small Town, an Unlikely Coach, and a Magical Baseball Season” by Sports Illustrated writer Chris Ballard.

Kevin Seitzer

The 59-year-old Atlanta Braves hitting coach is a native of Springfield and grew up in Lincoln. He attended Eastern Illinois before a 12-season major league career with four teams.

Sal Fasano

The 50-year-old Atlanta Braves catching coach and former 16-year major league catcher was born in Chicago and now lives in Minooka.

Cale Johnson

The 33-year-old Atlanta Braves assistant pitching coordinator attended McKendree University in Lebanon and now resides in Greenville with his family.

Cooperstown-bound:7 Baseball Hall of Famers with ties to the Peoria area


Jill Robinson

The Atlanta Braves chief financial officer and executive vice president is a native of Naperville graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in accountancy in 1992. 

Chad Clarke

The Atlanta Braves manager of corporate partnerships is a native of Springfield and a graduate of Sacred Heart-Griffin. He went on to Columbia University in Chicago and now resides in Atlanta.

Greg Heller

The Atlanta Braves executive vice president and chief legal officer was born in Peoria and was a three-sport athlete at Spalding and Notre Dame. He went on to Indiana University and got his law degree from Marquette.