Former Streaks broadcaster's latest novel based on Silver Streaks' 1954-55 season

Mike Trueblood
Special to The Register-Mail
Bill Pearson

GALESBURG — Bill Pearson is best remembered in his hometown as the radio voice of the Galesburg Silver Streaks during the peak of the coach John Thiel era of the 1960s.

But at age 84, the former WGIL broadcaster is finding a whole new audience as a published author who has written four novels, the latest heavily influenced by his days growing up in Galesburg.

Titled "The Modicum of Quick, the Silver Streaks — A Love Story" is currently available at

"The story about the Silver Streaks has always been with me and why I could never make the team," said Pearson, now living in Minneapolis with his wife Carol. 

"I knew many others who didn't make the team and many others who did.

"It's been a dream many years long."

Growing up on Florence Avenue, Pearson and his friends filled the driveways of the neighborhood playing basketball and dreaming of becoming Silver Streaks back in the 1950s. However he got cut in tryouts three straight years by three different coaches, the last being Thiel in his first year at Galesburg in 1955.

That didn't dim Pearson's love for the game or for the Silver Streaks, however.

The 1956 GHS graduate covered sports for the Galesburg High School Budget, wrote stories on the Ponies sophomore team for The Register=Mail and when he moved on to North Park College, he continued to write for that school's paper and eventually found his way into the broadcast booth for the college's games.

After college graduation and a two-year stint in the U.S. Army, he obtained an early release from duty just in time to broadcast Silver Streaks' football games for the 1963 season.

"I drove into town on a weekend and the next weekend I was in the booth at Lombard Field doing a game."

For the next eight years he hosted radio shows and sold advertising for WGIL and broadcast GHS and Knox College sports with partners that included Russ Lind, Ted Trulock and Dave Cox.

His most memorable partner, however, was ex-Streaks star Jimmie Carr.

"I thought we were great together," Pearson said.

And he made the radio calls on some of the most memorable games in Streaks history. In his eight years in the booth, Galesburg made four trips to the state tournament.

"I just loved it," he recalls.

But his new novel is based on the Galesburg season of 1954-55, a state tournament team that was coached by Frank Adams.

Although fiction, it borrows heavily from real people, places and games.

"There are a couple of real names I used - Jim Swickard is one that stands out to me," said Pearson of the former Register-Mail sports editor.

"I changed a few when I was writing about the players, but people will probably know who I was writing about. 

"Some of it is changed. I got creative about the season and some of the teams they played."

Even with three books behind him, Pearson said "The Silver Streaks - A Love Story" took 10 years to write.

"I had to write it from the perspective of a 16-year old," he said. "That's why it took so long, I think.

"It was a challenge but it was fun. 

"I could go back to that time. I remember it so well."

Pearson left Galesburg for broadcasting opportunities in the Quad Cities, doing television weather, sports and news for WHBF and pairing with Don Sharp for radio sports broadcasts.

Looking back at his job change Pearson says, "I think I got over-anxious.

"I wanted the opportunity to do big-time college basketball. 

"I loved Galesburg, I loved the town and I regret leaving. WGIL and the Streaks meant so much to me."

Pearson left broadcasting to work in sales for IBM and Compaq in Chicago and Houston before moving to Minneapolis, his wife's hometown and to be near his son and daughter.

Obviously, he's never forgotten Galesburg.

"Some of my earliest memories are when my dad and grandpa took me to Steele Gym for games and we sat up in the rafters," he said.

"We stood outside in the cold and snow and then we'd get inside and to to the little ticket window.

"We'd walk into the boys gym and take off our coats and boots and throw them in a pile like everybody else and leave them there and when we came back to get our stuff it would always be there.

"Up in the rafters we'd have to bend our heads a lot to see the game. I started going when I was 5 or 6 to every home game."

Pearson's previous books - all pub lished since 2017 are titled "Wataga Love," "The Quiet," and "Coffee Beans of Northern Minnesota."

None has sports or basketball as a storyline.

Pearson is not sure if he will publish more books but he has thought about it.

"I've written so many little, short things I've thought about a book of short stories," he said.

"And I do have an idea about golf."