Three of a Kind

Butler brothers dominated 2 sports for years at MCHS


2016 MCHS Yearbook

Joe Butler turns a double play against Oswego East back in his high school days.

What happened to the dominant two-sport brothers from MCHS?

From 2013 to 2017 there was a Butler brother on both the Minooka varsity basketball and baseball teams. And three years before, the oldest brother also played both at the varsity level. Jake, Joe, and Jonny Butler all had historic success at MCHS.

To coach family members is fun because you get to know the family so well and see all the kids come through the program and create those relationships,” Jeff Petrovic, Minooka’s head baseball coach since 2004, said.

The oldest brother, Jake Butler, played three years of basketball and two years of baseball at the varsity level. He was named all-conference once for basketball. In his junior baseball season he had a 3.61 ERA in 31 innings. He graduated in 2010.

Joe Butler, the second oldest brother, played four years of basketball and three years of baseball at the varsity level. He was named All-Conference three times for basketball, including MVP honors in 2016, and twice for baseball. In his sophomore and senior baseball seasons, he hit .338 with an .887 OPS and 22 RBIs. In those two seasons he also posted a 2.09 ERA in 72 innings. He graduated in 2016.

“Playing both baseball and basketball at MCHS was definitely a highlight of my time there,” Joe Butler said. “I played for and with some amazing people who I still keep in touch with today. I have countless memories from both sports and am really blessed and thankful for those experiences.” 

The youngest brother, Jonny Butler, played four years of basketball and two years of baseball at the varsity level. He was named All-Conference twice for basketball and baseball, including MVP honors in 2017 for baseball. In his 2 varsity baseball seasons Jonny hit .353 with an .896 OPS, 32 RBIs, and a .988 fielding percentage. He graduated in 2017.

From 2013 to 2016, Joe and Jonny played varsity basketball together. In 2016, they led Minooka to their first regional title in 40 years and a SPC title with a 12-2 conference record. Joe became Minooka’s second ever member of the 1,000 points club, and Jonny became the third in 2017. 

“It was honestly a dream come true winning our first regional title in 40 years and first SPC conference championship ever,” Scott Tanaka, Minooka’s head basketball coach from 2008-2018, said. “When we started at MCHS, I was told that you will not be able to win here. With the help of the Butlers and every other player that played under our staff, buying into everything that we preached, the regional and conference championship was icing on the cake.”

In 2015 and 2016, Joe and Jonny played varsity baseball together and won the regional championship both years.

“I am really thankful I got to share the field and court with my brother, Jonny,” Joe said. “Sports have been such a huge part of our lives and I’m glad I got to share some of those memories with him. Just wish Jake could have joined us and all three of us could have played at the same time!”

All three of them would go onto play baseball at the collegiate level. Jake went to the University of St. Francis as a right-handed pitcher. Joe went to Illinois State University as an infielder but became a utility player. And Jonny went to Heartland Community College as an outfielder. 

“Watching all three boys come through Minooka Baseball and on to college careers was so enjoyable to be a part of and see,” Petrovic said. “Seeing all of them go on to be successful in their current professions and in life makes me so happy. I love seeing all of our players grow up and succeed in life!”

At the University of St. Francis, Jake had a 33-9 record with a 2.52 ERA and 325 strikeouts in 53 starts. He broke the career wins and strikeout record, both later would be broken in 2015, and was named the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference Pitcher of the year in 2014. 

At Illinois State University, Joe hit .267 with a .739 OPS, 110 RBIs, and a .929 fielding percentage in 4 ¼ seasons. He became top 10 in career games played at ISU and was named to the Missouri Valley Conference First Team and All-Tournament Team in 2019. 

“It was always a dream of mine to go play at that level, and couldn’t be more thankful that I was able to make that dream a reality,” Joe said.

At Heartland Community College, Jonny hit .372 with a 1.036 OPS and 55 RBIs his freshman season. And after an outstanding season he transferred to North Carolina State University. In his first and Covid season at NC State he hit .279 with an .824 OPS, 43 RBIs, and a .970 fielding percentage in 77 games. 

Jonny’s final season at NC State is when he really made a name for himself. In his 52 starts, in left field, he hit .376 with a 1.254 OPS, 53 RBIs, 14 Home Runs, and a 1.000 fielding percentage. He led the ACC in batting average, and was 4th in slugging percentage and 6th in on-base percentage. He was also named All-American by four different publications and to the All-ACC First Team. 

Jonny also led NC State to the NCAA College World Series for the first time in eight years. And they made it to the semifinals, but after tying the best of 3 series against Vanderbilt they were forced to forfeit due to COVID-19 protocols. In the tournament he hit .313 with 12 RBIs.

Throughout their careers they would also have academic success. All three of them won many scholar-athlete awards throughout their high school and college years.

“The Butlers are phenomenal young men. They have the unbelievable ability to give everything that they have, all of the time,” Tanaka said. “They are just as talented off the court, as they were on the court.”

After amazing college careers Jake and Jonny would get drafted in the MLB draft.

“I always thought professional baseball was possible for all three of them,” Petrovic said. “They all were super talented and had great work ethics but just like any athlete they each had setbacks or things that made some things more challenging.  But it was obvious to me and our program that all three of them could play professionally and ironically enough Joe (who didn’t get drafted) might have had the most raw ability, and I believe he should have been drafted.  Jake was experiencing arm problems after college and when he was drafted it was tough on him physically, and Jonny is still doing his things professionally right now.”

Jake was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the 29th round in 2014. Though he would ultimately end up getting released in 2015 after dealing with injuries. 

Jonny was drafted by the Oakland Athletics in the 14th round in the 2021 draft. In his first season he was called up to advanced A, after four games in rookie ball where he hit .300 with a 1.017 OPS and 1.000 fielding percentage. In advanced A, on the Lansing Lugnuts, he hit .203 with a .569 OPS, 9 RBIs, and a .979 fielding percentage in 25 games. 

In his injury-filled 2022 season, in advanced A, he hit .244 with a .702 OPS, 21 RBIs, and a 1.000 fielding percentage. He was also invited, for the second straight year, to the A’s Fall Instructional League.

“The Butlers are incredible athletes and coaching them was such an honor and pleasure. They were terrific baseball players but even better people!” Petrovic said.

“The Butler boys are truly special, one of a kind.  Not only are they gifted athletes, they are gifted people.  They possess the characteristics that all coaches dream of in their players,” Tanaka said. “It was truly a honor to be able to coach them on the basketball court and teach them in the classroom.”