Daniel D. Hull, the retired Brookfield police officer, saloon keeper and Little League Softball World Series-winning manager known around town as “Handsome Hull,” died March 29, 2018 at the age of 75 after battling a debilitating pulmonary disease.
A beloved member of the community, Hull was honored Feb. 26 by the Brookfield Village Board at a meeting jammed with well-wishers, friends and family who gave him a raucous ovation as Danny Hull eased his father’s wheelchair into the council chamber.
During a 20-minute ceremony, Village President Kit Ketchmark read aloud a proclamation honoring Hull for his lifetime of service, both professional and personal, to the village.
The applause kept coming.
“In my dad’s wildest dreams, he never thought anything like this could happen to him,” said Hull’s son, Danny, speaking to the crowd on behalf of his father, ending his remarks with the famous line from Lou Gehrig’s public sendoff.
“I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.”
Police Chief James Episcopo, who conceived the idea of honoring Hull, said the event at village hall served another purpose. In the weeks that followed, people were able to reconnect with their mentor and friend, visiting the Hull home on Jefferson Avenue.
“It prompted a lot of people to make sure they came by the house. It gave people a chance to say goodbye, which was nice,” Episcopo said.
Hull died peacefully, surrounded by his family, said Episcopo.
“This is a guy who is not just going to be missed by a normal circle of people,” said Episcopo, who was the first Brookfield police officer hired after Hull’s retirement in 1987. “He’s going to be missed by an entire village.”
Born Feb. 23, 1943 in Chicago, Hull’s family moved to Brookfield in 1957. He attended Riverside-Brookfield High School and served four years in the U.S. Air Force, including two years in Japan, blossoming as an athlete there.
He joined the Brookfield Police Department in 1967 after seeing a sign in the window of Fisher’s Pharmacy in downtown Brookfield. He would retire 20 years later at the rank of lieutenant. While with the department, he attended the FBI Leadership Academy.
After retiring Hull spent 14 years working in internal affairs for the Cook County Sheriff’s Department, a job he retired from in 2008.
All the while, Hull devoted his free time to coaching. He loved being a coach and mentoring players, with whom he forged lifelong friendships. He coached children and adults alike, both male and female at the rec league, grade school, high school and college levels.
“The one thing that amazed me as I got older, that fifth- and sixth-grade girls team, that’d be lucky if they could score three baskets in a game, meant no less to me than coaching a top guys team,” Hull told the Landmark in a February interview prior to being honored by the village of Brookfield. “I just loved coaching.”
Locally, Hull was legendary locally as the manager of the 1985 Brookfield National Little League all-star softball team that went undefeated on their way to a Little League World Series championship.
In the wake of the win, the Illinois General Assembly declared Brookfield the “Home of Softball in Illinois.”
On the high school level, Hull coached at Nazareth Academy in LaGrange Park and was the girls softball coach at Riverside-Brookfield High School for 12 years. At RBHS, Hull’s teams compiled a 289-118 record and racked up nine regional titles before he retired in 2010.
Perhaps less well known was his impact on women’s athletics at Triton College, where he coached softball from 1989 to 1994, leading the Trojans to three NCJAA Region IV Final Four appearances and sectional championships in 1990 and 1991.
He coached women’s basketball at Triton College on three separate occasions, from 1991-94, 2000-03 and 2007-09. The 1992-93 team placed seventh in the NJCAA Division III national tournament.
Triton’s 1993-94 team, which finished 25-8 and included Hull’s daughter, Becky, was the NJCAA Division III national runner-up. Only two other teams in Triton women’s basketball history compiled more wins in a single season.
The 1993-94 team has remained close, holding a reunion every year. They celebrated the 25th anniversary of their national runner-up finish on March 7 at Hull’s home in Brookfield.
“He was the best women’s sports coach we’ve ever had,” said Tim McKinney, Triton College’s sports information director.
In 1987, upon retiring as a police officer, Hull bought Harold’s Hideaway, a bar at 8436 Brookfield Ave., from his cousin. He owned the bar for a little more than four years, calling it the hardest job he ever had.
As for his nickname, “Handsome,” Hull admitted he wasn’t sure how it came about, but liked to say when asked, “Look at me!”
He was the husband of Mary Margaret Hull (nee Fencl); the father of Katie (Michael) Redmond, Jennifer (Michael) Metoyer, Becky (Rich) Davis and Daniel P. (Teri) Hull; the grandfather of Margaret and Virginia Redmond, Michael, Logan, Ian and Lucas Metoyer, Daley, Ryan and Malia Davis, and Daniel and Thomas Hull; the brother of Dennis (Gwen) Sullivan, Mary (John) Maher, Joan (John) Miller and the late James (the late Eileen) Sullivan and Ed (the late Barbara) Sullivan; the uncle of many nieces and nephews; and a friend, teammate and coach to many.
Visitation is on Monday, April 2 from noon to 8 p.m. at Hitzeman Funeral Home, 9445 31st St., Brookfield. A funeral Mass will be celebrated Tuesday, April 3 at 10 a.m. at St. Louise de Marillac Church, 30th Street and Raymond Avenue, LaGrange Park. Interment is at Queen of Heaven Cemetery.
Memorials are appreciated to Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, 22 E. Chicago Ave., Chicago, 606011 or the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation 230 E. Ohio Street, Suite 500, Chicago, 60611.