Even in the 1940s when 6′ 5″ high school basketball players were considered giants, Marlo Termini was still classified as a “mighty mite.” Thus it was understandable why the 5′ 2″ Holy Name High School junior guard captured the imagination of Cleveland sports fans when he led his team to its first-ever city cage championship with a 39-32 victory over Collinwood at Public Hall in 1944. The tiny co-captain was both the team’s brainy floor general and scoring leader at 11.4 ppg. and was named to the All-Senate team. He seemed to be on track for a spectacular senior season, but there was a war on, and he spent the 1945 season in the army instead. After his release, he enrolled at the University of Dayton and became an immensely popular player in the Flyers’ strong cage program before he left to join a Detroit semi-pro team. Later he turned his considerable talents to fast-pitch softball, at a time when Cleveland was a hotbed of the sport. He starred for several championship clubs and, as a center fielder and speedy lead-off hitter, earned a reputation as one of the best ever to play the game here. In a 14-year career he never played on a losing club and was a key player on the 1957 General Teamsters team that became the first squad to represent the city in the national championships in 30 years.
One of the original Cleveland Cavaliers, Bingo Smith was picked in the 1970 expansion draft from the San Diego Rockets, who had made him a first round choice in the previous year’s college draft. The ex-Tulsa University All-American became an instant hit in Cleveland with his patented rainbow jumper often fired from the farthest reaches of an arena. Then, on his historic night in April, 1976 at the Richfield Coliseum, one of those long distance bombs was to become one of the most famous shots in Cavaliers history: a last-second three-pointer that earned the team its first-ever post-season playoff game victory. Immediately, it was immortalized as “The Miracle of Richfield.” There were many other points scored by Smith as well: 9,513 in regular season games (fourth best total in Cleveland history) and 198 in post season play. In his nine-plus seasons with the Cavs, Bingo did more than enough to merit retiring his No.7 jersey and his recent selection as one of the team’s top 12 players of all time. Traded back to San Diego in the 1979-80 season, he retired after that campaign and returned to Cleveland where he has devoted much of his time to working with youth groups in the Northeastern Ohio area.
On a red letter day for amateur wrestling in the U.S in 1971, Chardon Hilltopper freshman Leroy Kemp decided he was not cut out to be a basketball player and grudgingly decided to give wrestling a try. But his interest grew after attending a wrestling camp where several U.S Olympians were training for the 1972 Summer Games. The result: in his last two seasons at Chardon, he went 55-0, won two Ohio Division II championships and a High School Junior Nationals title in 1974 and posted a rare American victory against a member of the Soviet Junior National Team when it stopped in Cleveland on a U.S tour At the University of Wisconsin he added three NCAA Division I 158-lb. titles and built a 143-6-1 record which included 87 consecutive wins and a 103 match unbeaten string. In his first international tournament in 1978, at 21 years and eight months he became the youngest American to win a gold medal at the World freestyle championships and eventually became the first American to win three World titles by adding golds in 1979 and 1982. He added Pan-American Games titles in 1979 and 1983 and seven national freestyle titles to become one of the most decorated matmen in U.S. history. Inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1990, he now lives in Forest Lake, MN.
For a half-dozen unforgettable years, Carol Heiss Jenkins was the greatest ladies figure skater in the world. She was World Champion in 1956-57-58-59 and 60, U.S. Champion in 1957-58-59 and ’60, Olympic Silver Medalist in 1956, and finally the Olympic Gold Medalist in 1960. Her marriage to another Olympic Champion, Hayes Jenkins, in 1956 brought her to Akron, and when her family was raised she returned to the ice as a teacher. That in turn led her to the Winterhurst Rink in Lakewood in 1981, where she began a program which has brought national prominence to the modest facility and established the Greater Cleveland area as one of the nation’s leading figure skating centers. In her tenure at Winterhurst she has coached such internationally-ranked skaters as Lisa Ervin and Timothy Goebel, Greater Cleveland natives Tonia Kwiatkowski and Jeni Meno, and 2001 National Men’s Junior National Champion Parker Pennington. In 1996 the United States Figure Skating Association and Professional Skating Association named her Coach of the Year. It is for these accomplishments as a coach and goodwill ambassador for Greater Cleveland that Jenkins, now a resident of Westlake, has been selected to the Greater Cleveland Sports Hall Of Fame.
Native Clevelander Tom Jackson launched his illustrious football career at John Adams High where he starred for two seasons before moving on to the University of Louisville in 1969. After winning Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year honors as a sophomore in 1970 and as a senior in 1971, he began a history-making 14-year career with the Denver Broncos of the NFL in 1973. When his career ended, he had played the most games (191) in Broncos history, a total since surpassed by John Elway, who is also the only player to have played more seasons (16) with Denver. Jackson made three consecutive Pro Bowl appearances from 1977 through 1979, was named All-Pro in 1977 and 1978 and was the Broncos defensive MVP in 1974, ’76 and ’77. In 1977 he was also named the AFC “Linebacker of the Year” and was voted the team’s “Most Inspirational Player” for six straight seasons. Six years after his retirement in 1986 he was inducted into the Broncos Ring of Fame, an honor reserved for Denver’s all-time best players. He became a television football analyst after his playing days ended and is currently seen on ESPN’s NFL Primetime and NFL Sunday and Monday Night Countdown shows. He presently makes his home in Cincinnati.
Brian Dowling is an athletic legend at St. Ignatius High School. He led his team to a City Basketball title, sinking four clutch free throws in the title game’s last 34 seconds to turn a 13 point deficit into a 53-50 victory. He also made the state tennis doubles finals as a sophomore and the regional singles finals as a senior. But it was as a football quarterback that Dowling achieved bigger-than-life status. In six high school and college seasons he played in just one losing game, when, as a prep junior in 1963, injuries sent him to a hospital at half-time of the City Championship Charity Game. He avenged that loss in the following year’s Charity Game, breaking loose for a 71-yard TD run and passing for four touchdowns in a 48-6 rout. At Yale, his teams were 21-0-1 in games he played and 5-6 in games he missed with injuries. The tie came in his final collegiate game when Harvard scored 16 points in the final 42 seconds to earn a 29-29 draw and a share of the Ivy League title with Yale. The previous year, his 66 yard touchdown pass with 2:16 left had beaten the Crimson 24-22 for the Ivy League Crown. An honorable mention All-American and the Outstanding Player in New England as a senior, he currently lives in Lowell, Massachusetts.
On May 15, 1981 Lenny Barker carved a special niche for himself in the history of Cleveland Indians baseball by pitching the 12th perfect game in major league history, handcuffing Toronto 3-0, striking out 11 Blue Jays along the way. It was, however, far from the only highlight of his four-plus seasons with the Tribe. Twice in that period (1980 and 1981) he led American League pitchers in strikeouts and was second in 1982. He was named to the 1981 AL All-Star team, which was played in Cleveland, and pitched two hitless innings before an appreciative crowd of 72,086. His 56-49 record with the Indians included 19-12 (1980) and 15-11 (1982) seasons and earned him a place on the roster of the 100 Greatest Indians named in 2001 as part of the team’s 100th Anniversary celebration. His seasons with Cleveland were the finest of an 11-year major league career in which he won 74 games. Now in the construction business, the native of Ft. Knox, KY and star high school athlete at Neshaminy High School in Trevose, PA makes his home in Auburn Township.
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