CHICAGO – The name Dennis Butler has a rich history on the diamonds of Chicago’s South Side. 

“I think my mother named me after Dennis the Menace,” laughs Dennis Butler Sr., the family patriarch and longtime baseball coach.

“It’s something where our name has been going through the city as far as a baseball family, and that means a lot to us,” said Dennis Butler Jr., the head baseball coach at Simeon High School.

Dennis the third, known as Trey, is a rising junior already committed to Louisville to play baseball. Trey’s cousin DJ, a former star for Jackie Robinson West, now plays at Presbyterian College.

“I was pretty young, 9 or 10 years old before I started understanding how important it was, the [Butler] name, I kept my head down and kept working,” Trey said.

Butler Sr. began coaching baseball in 1974, recruiting kids to play wherever he found them.

“Some of the older guys make fun of me cause I would go down the street saying, ‘hey want to play baseball?’” Butler Sr. said.

“He picked up kids in the neighborhood, took them to the park, and just tried  to teach every kid how to play baseball,” Butler Jr. said.

He saw sports as an outlet to keep kids off the streets and provide a positive playing ground for their lives.

“We realize [baseball] is a tool we can use to stop some violence in our communities,” Butler Sr. said.

Butler and his sons founded the West Englewood Tigers travel team in 2008 as a step up in competition

“It took years to get parents and kids to believe, but once they saw their kids getting better, we got more kids from different areas,” Butler Jr. said. “Our main focus is to develop kids as a baseball player, as a man or young lady, to better them as person.”

Baseball has coursed through Butler blood from one generation to the next, as has a work ethic instilled by Dennis Sr. and passed down to his kids and to their kids.

“Granddad tells me to keep working hard, don’t take breaks and staying on what I’m supposed to be doing,” Trey said.

“Stay focused, keep humble and don’t stop working, because somebody is still working,” Butler Sr. said. “Don’t get caught, because they’ll catch you.”

Fathers and sons motivated by a love of baseball and giving back to the community, two traits that run in the family.

“I appreciate my sons are involved with their sons, especially in community,” Butler Sr. said. “I appreciate them trying to help people. That’s the reason we are here, to help people.”

“The fact my dad was able to come out and see his grandson play, I enjoy that more than anything else,” Butler Jr. said.

“I want to be able to carry their legacy on, help my community in the future, make them proud and everyone around me proud and hopefully give back to school some day,” Trey said.