One of the original founders of the Greater Cleveland Sports Hall of Fame Foundation, Inc. (1975), he served as a Trustee until 1984. His lifetime commitment to civic, religious and charitable causes put him frequently in the midst of new and innovative community programs. He was instrumental in creating Cleveland’s first marathon race which subsequently has developed into the Revco-Cleveland Marathon.
A long distinguished competitive career included Cleveland Muny Singles Championships in 1935, 1939, 1940 and 1941, the Midwestern Open Senior Singles title in 1960, and five National Public Parks Senior Doubles titles pairing with Ed DiLeone. In 1982 he continued with an appearance as a finalist in the NPP Senior Championship.
A skilled fighter, he contested in the finals for the National Golden Gloves title in 1929. Ring Magazine and Everlast Boxing Record included him in the world professional rankings in 1935. The Jewish Star of David on his trunks became his well known symbol as he fought some of the best including Tony Falco, Izzy Janazzo, Sammy Mandell, Jimmy Leto and Cocoa Kid.
“Fighting Billy Sunday” was the popular tag given to him because he looked more like a minister than a fighter. However, his many opponents quickly learned the difference as he worked his way through the Heavyweight field which at that time was headed by the great world champion, Jack Johnson. Spectacular and successful fights were recorded against the likes of Mike McLaughton, Jack Clancy, Hank Harter and George Rogers.
Cleveland’s AAU and Golden Gloves flyweight champion in 1936, he won both titles again in 1940 as a bantamweight. As a featherweight he won the Cleveland Open Championships in 1941 and 1942 and added the National Golden Gloves featherweight title in the latter year. A stellar competitive career was followed by selection into the Golden Gloves Hall of Fame as he continued to provide leadership for the sport at many levels including working with the U.S. Olympic Team.
An outstanding and durable career, spanning 1927 to 1942, led her to star for numerous Class A and Tri-State championship teams including the World Champion Newman Stern girls. A top scorer, she holds a one-game record of 100 points.
Known as “Mr. Class A” in the glory days of fast-pitch softball he hit .342 in 1922, his first year. His batting exploits were accomplished against the best pitching, including the legendary Bill Miller, who purposely walked only one batter in his career: Philip Comella. His personally backed team, “Comella Sports,” won several class-A titles.
The son of Lakewood High School’s football coach was a good learner. So good that by the time he wound up an awesome career at neighboring St. Edward High in 1974 as an All-Ohio and All-American linebacker he had become one of the nation’s most coveted players. How coveted? On the night before the NCAA’s national letter signing day, three coaches gathered in the Cousineau home to do verbal battle for his signature. It was a gathering of legends: Bo Schembechler of Michigan, Joe Paterno of Penn State and Ohio State’s Woody Hayes. In a red letter day for the Scarlet and Gray, Hayes emerged a winner. Cousineau went on to win All-American honors in 1977 and 1978 (and a quarter-century later to be named the winner of the 2003 Butkus Silver Anniversary Award as the best linebacker in college football from 25 years ago). He would set an OSU season record with 211 tackles in 1978, take part in 29 tackles against Penn State, at the time another Buckeye mark with 16 solo tackles against Southern Methodist. At the end of his senior year he was selected by the Buffalo Bills, with the first pick in the 1979 NFL draft. Unable to reach a contract agreement, he opted to play for the Montreal Alouettes in the Canadian Football League where he became the Grey Cup MVP in 1979. The Bills traded his rights to the Cleveland Browns in 1983 and in five seasons with the Browns he led the team in tackles three times and was picked to two all-NFL teams. He ended his career with the San Francisco 49ers, retiring in 1987. In 2006, he announced his candidacy for a seat in the Ohio House of Representatives, won his primary and is currently Republican candidate for the seat.
Just as Camelot provided the inhabitants of King Arthur’s court with “one brief shining moment,” Charboneau would do the same for long-suffering Cleveland Indians fans some 14 centuries later. The carefree native of Belvidere, IL, burst upon an unsuspecting major league scene in 1980, two years after being traded to the Indians by the Philadelphia Phillies in a minor league deal. With spring training injuries opening the door, he found himself in the Tribe’s starting lineup on April 11 and proceeded to hit-and hit-and hit. By season’s end he had built a .289 batting average with 23 home runs and 87 runs batted in and found he had been named the American League’s “Rookie of the Year.” But there were other sides to the irrepressible rookie’s talents which kept the town buzzing, the turnstiles humming and inspired the inexplicably popular song hit “Go Joe Charboneau” which soared to #3 on the local charts. Such as his penchant for dying his hair grotesquely unnatural colors, opening beer bottles with his eye socket and drinking the beer through his nose with a straw, doing his own dental work and reportedly resetting a broken nose with a pair of pliers. It was enough to terrorize every mother of an impressionable youngster, but somehow to know him was to love him. It all came to a crashing end (literally) the following spring when he hurt his back in a headfirst slide during an exhibition game. He was never the same. He underwent two back surgeries, played in 60 more major league games and was released in 1983. But the mutual love affair with Cleveland prompted him to continue making his home in the area while staying active in various baseball-related activities and he now makes his home in North Ridgeville.
A dominant competitive figure on the Greater Cleveland golf scene for a remarkable span of nearly 40 years, she was still hitting ’em down the fairways in quest of more titles at the time of her induction into the Greater Cleveland Sports Hall of Fame. Her collection of trophies at that point reflected nine Greater Cleveland Women’s Golf Association championships between 1969 and 2004 and seven runner-up finished, two titles and a pair of second place finishes in the Women’s Ohio State Golf Association Senior Championships, one title, one medalist and four semi-finalist finishes in the Women’s Ohio State Golf Association Championships and a myriad of other titles or significant finishes in tournaments not only in Ohio, but also on a national level as well as in her earlier years in her native state of Pennsylvania. Small wonder that the Northern Ohio PGA designated her a “Legend of Golf” in 2003. A retired teacher who graduated from Ursuline College, and taught at elementary, high school and college level, she was a co-founder, along with her daughter, Anne Caja, an All-American golfer at William and Mary College, of the Ohio Girls Golf Foundation in 1994, a organization which has been instrumental in fostering the growth of the girls golf in Greater Cleveland schools by providing golf training programs, financial assistance to compete in golf tournaments and in providing college scholarships. She lives in Chagrin Falls.
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