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Encyclopedia Dubuque


"Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.”
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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


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Ancestry: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/17036200/john-p-petrakis?_gl=1*1bjcftx*_ga*MTU4MDUyNDU2MC4xNjUxMjA3NTgw*_ga_4QT8FMEX30*MTY1ODI0NzU4My44NS4xLjE2NTgyNDg2MzguMA..

John Petrakis. Photo courtesy: Bob Reding

PETRAKIS, John. (Dubuque, IA, July 3, 1914--Dubuque, IA, Aug. 1, 1987). Dubuque's "Mr. Baseball." Perhaps no other individual has done more for the sport of BASEBALL in Dubuque that John Petrakis. In 1933 he spearheaded fund-raising efforts to maintain softball and baseball programs in Dubuque. Petrakis coached the CENTRAL CAFE softball team from 1941 to 1950, collecting eighteen trophies, and served as president of the Dubuque Packers, semi-pro baseball club.

Petrakis' commitment to baseball did not go unrecognized. In 1956 he was featured in the Saturday Evening Post because of his success as the general manager of Dubuque's minor league team. The commissioner of major league baseball named him the Minor League's "Ambassador for Organized Baseball." The same year, he was named Executive of the Year for minor leagues by the Sporting News. In 1958 Petrakis was presented with the Outstanding Citizen Award from the Dubuque Realty Board.

Petrakis was elected president of Dubuque Baseball Inc. for 1963 at the organization's annual meeting in December 1962. He therefore returned to the position he held for five years from 1955 until his resignation at the close of the 1959 season. He replaced the retiring president, Joe McCauley. (1)

In 1961 the FOURTH STREET BASEBALL FIELD was renamed in his honor, and he received the Service to Humanity Award from the Dubuque JAYCEES and the Boys' Club "Man Behind the Boy Award." Petrakis was elected to the DUBUQUE SOFTBALL HALL OF FAME in 1985. On May 4, 1986, the new baseball field, part of the Gerald “Red” MCALEECE Recreation Complex, was named the "Johnny Petrakis Baseball Park."

Some of Petrakis' honors were not related to baseball. He was named to Ripley's Believe It or Not in 1934 for his basketball free-throw records of 112 consecutive shots, 972 out of 1,000 and 4,665 out of 5,000. In 1935 he was named to "Iowa Oddities" for making 148 consecutive free throws.


The former owner and operator of JOHNNIE'S CAFE, Petrakis began working for Life Investors Insurance Company in 1963. He served eighteen years as a member of the Dubuque Recreation Commission. In 1951 he organized the DUBUQUE BOYS' CLUB Boosters. In 1960 Petrakis, active in local Boy Scouts, served as chairman of the Scout-0-Rama event. (2)

Sign from the old ballpark sold at auction on January 7, 2011. Photo courtesy: Bob Reding



1. Lagerstrom, Hal. "John Petrakis to Head 1963 Dubuque Baseball," Telegraph Herald, Dec. 6, 1962, p. 19

2. Nor'Easter (scoutleader newsletter),"Scout-O-Rama a Huge Success," June-July, 1960, p. 3 (Special thanks to Paul Lewis_

175 Years, Volume 3, "Mr. Baseball's Hard Work Gained Attention," Telegraph Herald, September 15, 2008