Jim Banko graduated from Taylorville High School in 1961 and is being inducted into the Hall of Fame as a
baseball coach and a player. Banko coached the Tornadoes baseball team from 1979 through 1987 and accumulated a record of 78 wins against 62 losses for a .557 win percentage, second in Taylorville History to only legendary Hall of Fame coach, Edward (Red) Bland.

    It was in 1984, that Banko guided the future Hall of Fame Taylorville baseball team to a 15 - 7 record and a final four finish in the IHSA State Tournament, only the second team in THS history to advance that far. Entering the Regional tournament with a 9 and 6 record, Banko found the chemistry that would propel the Tornadoes into the Taylorville record book. Decatur MacArthur was the first victim, as Don Pembroke threw a one-hitter in a 4-1 victory for the Tornadoes. Decatur Eisenhower was next, falling to Banko’s nine 1-0. In the regional final, Banko continued riding his ace pitcher, Don Pembroke, and Taylorville beat Lincoln 7-4.

    The Tornadoes faced Apollo Conference foe, Charleston, in the sectional opener, defeating the Trojans 3-2 and advancing to play 23-8 Danville in the final. Again, Don Pembroke allowed only one hit in the Tornadoes 1-0 victory.

    Banko led the Tornadoes against Chicago Public League Champion, Schurz High School, who brought a record of 23 – 13 to Springfield and the quarterfinals. In a seesaw game, the Tornadoes won 8 -5.

    In the state semi-finals (the Final Four), Morton High School (25-11) and eventual state champions, ended the Tornadoes’ run, as they defeated Taylorville 20 -7.

    As a player for the Tornadoes, Banko was a two year letter winner in football, basketball and baseball. On the football field, Banko played end and was the team’s punter. He was selected a team co-captain his senior year to the 8-1 Tornadoes. As the only two year starter on the basketball team, Banko lead the team in rebounding and scored a career high 309 points. On the baseball field, Banko was a team leader his junior and senior seasons as Taylorville won a conference championship and had 29 wins against only 7 losses.

    Following high school, Banko lettered two years playing baseball for the Western Illinois University Leathernecks. He later played semi pro baseball with Riverton AC and participated in two ABC World Series.