Reggie Willits, J.B. Shuck, and how lightning might be striking again in Anaheim.
Jack Burdett Shuck III was named for his father, Jack Burdett Shuck II, but has always gone by the initials J.B.. Similarly, Reggie Gene Willits was named for his father, Gene Willits, but has always gone by the initials R.G. That’s how I pronounce it, at least. I assume that’s how everybody pronounces it: R.G. Willits, written out (for aesthetic reasons, but strictly by coincidence) as “Reggie.” Pretty sure I’m right about this.
R.G. (Reggie) and J.B. have a lot in common. Both were born in smallish, Midwestern cities—Chickasha, OK (pop: 16,000) for Willits, and Westerville, OH (pop: 36,000) for Shuck. Willits’ favorite player was Kenny Lofton—he wore no. 77 in the majors in honor of Lofton, who wore no. 7. Shuck’s favorite player was Kenny Lofton, and he says the dozens of Lofton cards he owns are his most prized. Both would grow up to be large by human standards but small by baseball standards, each standing 5’ 11”. Their birthdays are separated by just two and a half weeks on the calendar, so when they were going through Little League and high school sports, they would have both been about the same age at each level. Shuck hit .576 in his senior year of high school, playing outfield and pitching; Willits hit .598 his senior year of high school, playing outfield and catching. Each went to college, and each stayed in his home state to do so. Willits was drafted in the seventh round. Shuck was drafted in the sixth.
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