In a nine-year span, which began on the neighborhood fields of Cleveland St. Joseph’s High and culminated in the plush surroundings of the Louisiana Superdome, Desmond Howard assembled a collection of football honors matched just twice before in the history of the sport. The talented speedster earned high school All-American honors as a tailback at St. Joseph’s in 1987, won the Heisman Trophy as a wide receiver for the University of Michigan in 1991, and collected the Super Bowl MVP award as the return specialist for the Green Bay Packers after the Packers’ 35-21 win over New England in Super Bowl XXXI in January, 1997. Those were but the crown jewels in a stunning set of accomplishments for Howard. At St. Joseph’s where he was also an All-Ohio two way player, he made USA Today’s High School Honor Roll by scoring five touchdowns in eight carries in a 41-28 victory over archrival Euclid. In his Heisman year as a Michigan senior, when he scored a school record 23 touchdowns and 138 points to become the first receiver to lead the Big Ten in scoring, he also garnered the Maxwell Award, the College Football Player of the Year Awards of The Sporting News and The Walter Camp Foundation player of the year award and was a unanimous first team All-American selection. Drafted by the Washington Redskins with the fourth pick in the 1992 NFL draft, Howard went on to play 11 seasons with five teams (the Redskins, Jaguars, Packers, Raiders and Lions), setting numerous team records for punt and/or kickoff returns in 1997, including a Super Bowl record 99-yard kickoff return which helped him to become the first special teams player to win the Super Bowl MVP trophy, and was named to the 2001 NFL Pro Bowl team. He retired after the 2002 season.
An early round selection of the Houston Astros in the 1969 amateur players draft after a stellar baseball career at Benedictine High, Mike Easler trod the border line of a major league career for 10 long years before finally locking down a big league berth with the Pittsburgh Pirates’ 1979 World Championship team as a pinch hitter. After hitting a career high .338 with 21 home runs in 1980, he found himself realizing a dream by playing before his family in the 1981 All-Star Game at Municipal Stadium. By the time he ended his playing career after the 1987 season he had established himself as one of the game’s most respected hitters with a .293 career average over 1,151 games played with six teams—the Astros, Angels, Pirates, Red Sox, Yankees and Phillies—over a 14 year span. Among his career highlights: hitting for the cycle as a Pirate in 1980 in a 10-6 win over the Reds; finishing in the American League’s Top 10 in hitting (.313), hits (188) and slugging percentage with the Red Sox in 1984; and notching an eighth inning single as a Yankee for the only hit off the Indians’ Tom Candiotti in a 1987 contest. He later served as batting coach for the Red Sox and Cardinals and at the time of his induction was with the Cincinnati Reds organization for which he has served in several managing and coaching positions both in the United States and Latin America. He makes his home in Las Vegas.
Chairman of the Physical Education Department of Western Reserve University from 1926 to 1971, he was chairman of the National Physical Fitness Committee of the AAU from 1974 through 1977, a member of the AAU’s National Gymnastics Committee form 1963-76 and a member of the U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Committee from 1968 to 1971. Served as president of the Lake Erie AAU in 1973 and 1974 and chairman of the Lake Erie AAU Gymnastics Committee form 1955 to 1973.
A major figure in the development of amateur baseball in Cleveland, he served as president of the Cleveland Baseball Federation from 1960 to 1976. Served as a member of the board of the Federation from 1948 until 1960 and chaired the Class “F” baseball program for youngsters for 12 years. Also served as a member of the Ohio Racing Commission for 12 years and was named “Man of the Year in Ohio Racing” in 1967.
A prominent supporter of amateur athletics in Cleveland, he was president of Favorite Knits Sporting Goods, a company which sponsored numerous teams in various sports. Organized the first Jewish Softball League in 1932, which later developed into the Jewish Recreation Council. Served as the first Amateur Softball Association commissioner in Greater Cleveland in 1935 and later he helped bring the first world softball tournament to Cleveland.
Active in the sports of swimming and diving and in the field of water safety for over 40 years, he founded numerous committees and associations involved with water sports competition. Was chairman of the Lake Erie Association Swimming Committee Board of Managers, from 1954 to 1974, president of the Lake Erie Association AAU in 1967-68, and coached, officiated and taught on a variety of levels form the mid-’30s through the ’70s.
Managed and backed softball teams from 1939 to 1964 and was responsible for the running of numerous World Tournaments held in Cleveland. His Sheffield Bronze teams won Jewish Recreation Council or Cleveland major titles for 15 successive years and played in an unprecedented eight consecutive World Tournaments form 1956 through 1962. Also backed bowling teams for 20 years and, at various times, hardball, women’s softball, Little League and basketball teams.
Elected to Women’s International Bowling Congress Hall of Fame, 1953. Twice won WIBC Tournament all-events championship (1925 and 1927) and also won 14 Ohio State Women’s Bowling Association Tournament championships, 11 Central State Bowling Association championships and 26 Cleveland Women’s Bowling Association Championships.
Member of Women’s International Bowling Congress Hall of Fame. Rolled a world record 732 three-game series in 1918. Rolled record all-events score of 1703 in 1919 women’s national tournament. Believed to be first woman to bowl 300 game in match play (1920).
First athlete from Cleveland to compete in Olympics (1904), winning gold medal for Indian club swinging and tying for first place in horizontal bars. Won 14 National AAU championships and three National Turner titles. In 1948, at age 62, he was voted the outstanding amateur athlete in Northeastern Ohio and finished third in the balloting for the Sullivan Trophy given by AAU to the nation’s outstanding amateur athlete of the year.
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