In 1975 the Greater Cleveland Chapter of the National Bicentennial Sports Committee, headed by John S. Nagy and William D. Reppa, was actively searching for projects in conjunction with the celebration of the nation’s 200th birthday the following year.
Thus, when Sam Levine, a prominent member of the city’s sports media, suggested the creation of a Greater Cleveland Sports Hall of Fame in May, 1975, the committee was quick to seize upon the idea.
A Hall of Fame Committee was appointed, composed of Levine as Chairman, Samuel L. Abrams, Robert F. Busbey, Frances T. Kaszbuski, Jerry Newman and George Seedhouse, with a mandate to proceed with plans at full speed.
As a result, the Greater Cleveland Sports Hall of Fame was successfully established as a non-profit organization in 1976. Notably, of all recommendations the Bicentennial Committee made for creating new activities for the Celebration Year, the Greater Cleveland Sports Hall of Fame is the only entity that survives today.
The first induction ceremony was held in 1976, and, with myriad candidates available, 151 Greater Clevelanders were honored for bringing recognition to this area through their notable sports and accomplishments.
Including the 2016 inductees, a total of 508 people have been voted into the Hall—15 of whom have been honored in more than one category—so that a total of 524 inductions have been made. One of the attributes of the Hall is the divergence of sports represented, namely 30.
Eligibility for election to the Hall is restricted to those persons outstanding in their sport who are considered Greater Clevelanders, defined as the counties of Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain and Medina, and who (1) were raised in Greater Cleveland or (2) came from other areas to become residents of Greater Cleveland. All must have been retired from their sport for at least three years or, if still active, must have competed at a quality level in their sport for at least 12 years.
Each Inductee receives a plaque featuring a three-dimensional line drawing of the honoree and the category for which he or she is honored. While duplicates of many of the plaques are currently hung in the lobby inside the Lakeside Avenue entrance to the Cleveland Public Auditorium in downtown Cleveland, the future of that facility is somewhat in doubt. Accordingly, efforts are being made to find a new home for the Hall of Fame.
The Greater Cleveland Sports Hall of Fame, Inc., was incorporated in 1999 in the State of Ohio. With its status as a Section 501 (c) (3) organization under the Internal Revenue Code, contributions are deductible for income tax purposes.
With all this history on its side, the Greater Cleveland Sports Hall of Fame continues to take pride in recognizing the men and women who have fashioned this area’s remarkable athletic reputation at tonight’s induction ceremony.
If you know an athlete or individual who you would like to nominate to be considered as an inductee click the nomination form button below.