Howard Millard, the president of the Midwest League’s predecessor Illinois State League in 1947 and 1948, was sports editor for the Decatur (Illinois) Review (later the Herald and Review) from 1920 through 1958. For his entire tenure in Decatur Millard wrote a column called “Bait for Bugs.” He was good at his job, but covering the Three-I League for The Sporting News didn’t bring him national fame. He was unusually active in Illinois, however, founding and presiding over the Illinois Associated Press Sports Editors Association.
H.V. Millard had a parallel career as a football and basketball official. Millard’s officiating career apparently began before the First World War and ended during the Second. He began by officiating local high school games, eventually becoming a prominent Illinois sports official and overseeing tournament games in neighboring states. By the late 1920s he was working Big Ten games in both sports, an association which he’d continue until he retired from officiating. He also served as president of the Athletic Officials Association of Illinois, another organization he helped create.
In the 1950s Millard would write and publish two editions of a book documenting the history of the Illinois high school basketball tournament. He was eminently qualified to produce this book, since he’d participated–as an athlete, official, or sports writer–in nearly every year’s tournament.
Apparently all this activity wasn’t enough, since Millard occasionally moonlighted as a sports executive. Soon after he arrived in Decatur he handled publicity for George Halas’ Decatur Staleys football club. In 1929 he moved to Dayton, Ohio, to serve as president of the local minor league baseball team. When team failed after the season for reasons unrelated to Millard’s presidency, he returned to his sports editor position in Decatur.
There are references to a stint as president of the Central League, apparently in the 1920s. I’ve been unable to verify this.
Presumably Millard had more time after he stopped refereeing big-school sports. H.V. served as General Manager of the Decatur Commodores baseball club in 1946, helping resurrect the Three-I League after the War. This community service effort lasted only one summer, as he resigned the position in the fall.
Millard’s next project oversaw the birth of a minor league to serve southern Illinois. Late in 1946 he announced the formation of the six-team Illinois State League, with himself as league president and C.C. Hoffman as VP. He served as ISL prexy for two seasons, then surrendered the job to Dutch Hoffman. Millard later served as secretary to the ISL’s successors–the Mississippi-Ohio Valley and Midwest Leagues–from 1954 until his 1958 retirement.
Howard Millard was born in Peoria, Illinois, on August 30, 1891, and was educated in Peoria schools. There’s some evidence that he attended Central College in Pella, Iowa, soon after completing high school, but he received his sheepskin from Illinois Wesleyan in 1917. He reportedly played basketball at both institutions, and captained the Wesleyan basketball team.
Millard apparently served in the military, probably during World War I, though I’ve been unable to find any details. He lived in Moline in 1919, then began his career in journalism at the Peoria Star. The next year he moved to Decatur, where he’d live and work for most of his life.
Millard married Thelma Brannan, of Decatur (a “society girl,” according to a newspaper announcement), on August 6, 1923. The Millards had a son, Harry, who they called Buddy. Buddy, their only child, often accompanied his father on officiating gigs.
Howard Millard retired from his newspaper position on October 1, 1958, at which time he and Thelma moved to California. Millard passed away on October 23, 1961, at the Fresno Veterans Administration hospital, after suffering a heart attack. He was buried in Decatur. The Sporting News published his obituary in the November 1 edition; a week later C.C. Johnson Spink noted Millard’s passing on TSN‘s editorial page. In 1972 he was elected to the Illinois Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame
- “At the High School,” Rockford Register-Gazette, October 13, 1919; page 9.
- “Perry Graves is Director of New Officials’ Body,” Rockford Morning Star, August 31, 1920; page 2.
- “R.A.A.C. Eleven Shows Worth in Kewanee Battle,” Rockford Morning Star, October 19, 1920; page 8.
- “Howard Millard Marries,” Rockford Republic, August 7, 1923; page 12.
- Al Demaree, “Seconds Count in Thrilling B.B Struggle”, Rockford Republic, January 23, 1929; page 17.
- “Gets His Coaching Early in Life”, Decatur Review, October 6, 1929; page 19.
- “Two Local Men Will Play with Pro Ball Clubs,” Rockford Morning Star, February 22, 1930; page 14.
- “Athletic Officials Elect,” Rockford Register-Republic, September 7, 1933; page 8.
- Dick Day, “Time Out,”, Rockford Register-Republic, August 20, 1945.
- “Howard Millard Resigns,” Rockford Morning Star, October 26, 1946.
- “Head of Illinois State Baseball Loop Resigns,” Rockford Register-Republic, November 1, 1948; page 29.
- Jim Johnston, “Fans’ Alley,” Rockford Register-Republic, February 7, 1955; page B3.
- “Decatur Editor to Retire Oct. 1”, Rockford Morning Star, July 27, 1958; page 8A.
- “Sports Writer Howard Millard Dies at Age 70,” Mount Vernon Register-News, October 24, 1961; page 8.
- “Obituary: Howard V. Millard,” The Sporting News, November 1, 1961; page 24.
- “Game Will Miss McAuley, Millard,” The Sporting News, November 8, 1961; page 10.