Robert Avery Barnes
- Bats Left, Throws Left
- Height 5' 11½", Weight 150 lb.
- School University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
- Debut July 8, 1924
- Final Game July 10, 1924
- Born January 6, 1902 in Washburn, IL USA
- Died December 8, 1993 in Peoria, IL USA
Bob Barnes was a member of the baseball team at the University of Illinois in the early 1920s. His collegiate career was, by and large, unremarkable. In the spring of his senior season, the Illini were scheduled to play a doubleheader against Northwestern on Saturday followed by a doubleheader against Michigan that Sunday. At the time, Northwestern was the worst team in the Big Ten whereas Michigan was in first place. Barnes was selected to pitch the second game against Northwestern so that the Illini could save their best pitchers for the Michigan game the following day. Bob promptly pitched a no-hitter against the hopeless Wildcat reserves. His performance received notice in the major Chicago newspapers and those reports caught the eye of Chicago White Sox team President Harry Grabiner.
Told by his scouts Barnes was not a prospect, Grabiner hired Barnes as the team's batting practice pitcher for the summer of 1924. That July, the White Sox played two doubleheaders in three days against the New York Yankees. In the second game of both doubleheaders, the games were decided by lopsided scores, 10-2 and 18-5. The roster rules being far more lax than they are now, manager Johnny Evers put his batting practice pitcher in to finish both games. The scouts' judgment was confirmed - Barnes pitched 4 and 2/3 innings, giving up 11 runs (10 earned), throwing 3 wild pitches, hitting 2 batters, and committing a balk.
That fall, "Lefty" Barnes gave up his fledgling baseball career and enrolled in the University of Illinois' law school. After receiving his degree, he returned to Marshall County, Illinois, where he practiced law for many years. Barnes eventually served as the State's Attorney, or chief prosecutor, for that county.