Larry Nance

Induction Year : 2021

Sport: Basketball

Nance played his final seven NBA seasons for the Cleveland Cavaliers (1987-1994) after a six-year stint with the Phoenix Suns.

Known as “Leapin’ Larry” for the dunking prowess that made him the first-ever NBA Slam Dunk Champion in 1984 and for his strong shot-blocking skills, Nance made three NBA All-Star teams (1985, 1989, 1993), including twice with Cleveland. He helped the Wine & Gold reach the postseason six times. Nance appeared in 433 regular season games with the Cavaliers, averaging 16.8 points on .530 shooting from the field, 8.2 rebounds, 2.6 assists and a team-record 2.5 blocks. Among the franchise’s all-time leaders, Nance ranks third in blocked shots (1,087) and field goal percentage (.530), ninth in points scored (7,257), rebounds (3,561) and field goals made (2,945), and 10th in minutes {(14,966) and free throws made (1,364). The 6-10 forward remains the lone player in Cavaliers history to make the NBA All-Defensive Team three times (1989, 1992 and 1993).

Larry’s number 22 jersey hangs in the rafters at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, while his son, Larry, Jr., now proudly wears 22 and continues the Nance legacy with the Cavaliers.

Jeanne Naccarato

Induction Year : 2018

Sport: Bowling

Her classmates at Brush High School in Lyndhurst remember her as Jeanne Marie Norton, where she was the most precocious teenage bowler in Greater Cleveland. At the age of 14 she bowled in adult leagues, and six years later she turned pro.

She married in 1980 at age 22 and became Jeanne Maiden, which is how the local bowling world knew her. She was Cleveland’s “Queen of Bowling” in 1981, ’82 and ’83. She continued to dominate women’s professional bowling for the rest of the decade.

In the 1986 Central States Tournament at Ambassador Brookpark Lanes, she rolled 40 consecutive strikes. She had her last seven in a row in the doubles. In singles, she rolled consecutive 300 games and added nine more strikes in a row in the third game en route to an 864 series, which was a world record since broken several times.

In 1992, she married Stan Naccarato and became Jeanne Maiden-Naccarato, the name on the plaque when she was inducted into the Women’s International Bowling Congress Hall of Fame in 1999, and to the Professional Women’s Bowling Association Hall of Fame in 2002.

Her husband, Stan, died in 2016 at the age of 88. Jeanne lives in Tacoma, Washington, where she owns a bowling center: Tower Lanes.

Jeff Radosevich

Induction Year : 2016

Sport: Horse Racing

Jeff Radosevich earned his way into the Greater Cleveland Sports Hall of Fame by making thoroughbred racing history at Thistledown.

Some of the greatest jockeys in North American have won titles at Thistledown; among them Kentucky Derby champions Bill Hartack, Bobby Ussery and Mike Manganello, as well as 2011 Hall inductee, Tony Rini.

The same holds true for trainers. Loyd Gentry, who saddled 1967 Kentucky Derby winner Proud Clarion, was a champion in Cleveland.

But none of these men have accomplished what Radosevich has at Thistledown. Not only is he a champion jockey (1988), Radosevich has gone on to be a champion trainer (eight times, the first in 2005), making him the first and only horseman in Greater Cleveland racing history to prevail on a thoroughbred as well as at one’s side.

Radosevich retired from riding in 1993 after suffering a broken leg, the result of a race spill. As a jockey he had rebounded from five broken arms, four broken collarbones and a broken foot.

He immediately began training horses, and 20 years later continues to be Thistledown’s top trainer. Radosevich has ranked in the Top 10 winningest horsemen in North America in three of the last 12 years.

Jeff is from a large racing family. His father, Joe, as well as brothers, Joey and Jake, are horse trainers.

Radosevich won his first race as a jockey at Thistledown on November 9, 1980. He was 19. He also won his first race as a trainer at the North Randall track on December 10, 1993.

Radosevich hit a training milestone last year. On December 12 he saddled his 2,000th career winner at Mahoning Valley Race Course in suburban Youngstown.

A native of Joliet, Illinois, Radosevich has a farm in Geauga County where he lives with his wife Yvonne and their children.

Sam Palumbo

Induction Year : 2016

Sport: Football

It was all about football and family for Sam Palumbo.

Growing up in Cleveland’s Collinwood neighborhood, he made a name for himself playing football and basketball for the Railroaders. He captained both teams into his senior season in 1951. As a defensive lineman, he earned All-East Side Senate, All-Scholastic and All-Ohio honors. He could have played in the City Championship basketball game, but as a mid-year graduate, he was already enrolled at the University of Notre Dame.

Earning a role as a defensive tackle, he was on the Fighting Irish varsity as a freshman under legendary coach Frank Leahy. He was an All-Midwest selection as a sophomore and on the once-tied 1953 team. After earning four letters, he was a first team All-Catholic pick and played in the North-South game in Miami.

The 195-pounder caught the eye of another legendary coach as he was selected by Paul Brown to play linebacker for the Browns as a fourth-round draft pick (No. 49 overall) in 1955. In the self-proclaimed highlight of his career, he replaced an injured Chuck Noll and helped the Browns defeated the Los Angeles Rams, 38-14, for the NFL title that year. Palumbo contributed an interception to the victory.

After another year with the Browns, he was traded to the Green Bay Packers for his final season of pro ball in 1957.

But football remained in his blood for the next 40 years as he became a dean of Northeast Ohio’s officiating ranks, retiring from both the gridiron and his insurance business in 2001. He was always helpful lending wisdom to young officials learning their way through the rules and regulations of the high school game.

He was honored with the Cleveland Touchdown Club Bobby Brown service award in 2002 and a member of the first class in the Greater Cleveland Football Officials Hall of Fame in 2009. He had been in the Collinwood HOF since 1992.

Through it all, he was with his high school sweetheart, Catherine,for more than 60 years of marriage. The couple raised five sons and a daughter, residing in Lyndhurst.

Mike Rupp

Induction Year : 2015

Sport: Hockey

St. Edward High School has turned out countless all-scholastic hockey players, many college stars and several professionals, but Mike Rupp certainly raised the bar when he broke into the National Hockey League in 2003.

He played his first NHL game for the New Jersey Devils on Jan. 13, 2003—his 23rd birthday—and scored two goals. Five months later he scored the winning goal in the seventh game of the Stanley Cup finals as the Devils defeated the Anaheim Ducks, 3-0. It was his first playoff goal. He also assisted on the other two goals. It was heralded as the greatest performance by a rookie in the history of the Stanley Cup.

When he had his “day” with the Cup, Mike and his family chartered a bus to take the massive silver trophy to all their old haunts, including the Honey Hut ice cream stand on State Road where Mike and his wife, Christi, spent many summer nights, and St. Edward High School, where he won his first trophies.

Mike was on the St. Edward state championship teams of 1995 and ’96, and the Eagles’ state runnerup team of 1997.

Mike played 12 seasons in the National Hockey League with New Jersey, Phoenix Coyotes, Columbus Blue Jackets, Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Rangers, and the Minnesota Wild. While playing with Pittsburgh, he scored a hat trick against the Rangers in Madison Square Garden.

In 610 NHL games, he scored 54 goals, had 45 assists and 855 penalty minutes.

Erica Rose

Induction Year : 2014

Sport: Swimming & Diving

Erica Rose wasn’t born in the waters of the world. It just seems that way. The native of Cleveland Heights has swum in and around 16 countries.

Her list of accomplishments stretches from high school, to major college competition, to the international stage. Rose, who began swimming for the Lake Erie Silver Dolphins at the age of seven, was a two-time state champion and two-time runner-up in the 500 free at Hawken School where she lettered in all four scholastic years (1997- 2000). The Hawks won three state championships in her time at the Gates Mills school.

Erica was recruited by Northwestern University where she competed all four years in distance and individual medley events, advancing to a Big Ten Championship finals and an NCAA championship qualifier.

Rose excelled in open water events, enjoying a 12 year run of success that started at age 14. She was a member of seven World Championship teams, holds 10 national titles as well as seven Pan Pacific and Pan American titles.

She also scored a World Championship title in the 5K open wager swim in Perth, Australia in 1998.

Erica went out a winner. Although she had announced her retirement

in 2011, she competed in the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim around New York City. At age 28, she won the grueling 28.5 mile test­ believed to be the longest swimming event in the world — with a time of 7 hours, 29 minutes and 46 seconds.

For added energy during the demanding Gotham swim she munched on sugary dried pineapple. For a light moment, Rose recalled having to tread water when a Norwegian Princess cruise ship was crossing her path.

Erica and her fiance, Brendan Dancik, live in Ann Arbor, Mi., where Erica is working on a dual degree in global public health and business administration at the University of Michigan. They will be married next month in  Cleveland at The Arcade.

A.J. Perry

Induction Year : 2014

Sport: Martial Arts

AJ Perry’s road to international acclaim during his 40 years as a Martial Artist began in front of the television set in his W. 162nd St. home in Cleveland’s West Park neighborhood. “The first time I saw the Green Hornet™ television show” AJ said, I was interested. “And then I saw ‘Marlowe,’ the detective show, with James Garner and Bruce Lee- I was definitely hooked!
 
AJ attended classes at St. Edward High School where he wrestled under Howard Ferguson. By age 15, he was practicing karate moves in a friend’s garage. That led to classes with Master Kim. AJ went on to teach Martial Arts at St. Ignatius High School in Cleveland. As his career as a Martial Artist started to take off, he began earning trophies and championships at local and regional competitions. He won several U. S. Open championships and in 2002 he took the bronze medal at the World Championships in Panama- third in the world. That, he says, was his highlight.
 
He was inducted into the World Traditional Martial Arts Hall of Fame in 2006. Master Perry was also inducted into the World Sokieship Council Hall of Fame in 2005.
 
Now 53 years old, AJ is an 8th degree Grand Master who lives in Vermilion and runs two Martial Arts schools, one in Amherst and the other in Lorain Community College . His son Aaron (3rd degree Black Belt), once his star protege, is now his assistant instructor.
 
Master Perry says among the great role models who touched his life are previous Greater Cleveland Sports Hall of Fame inductees Phil Bova, Ken McBride, Rich Rollins and Garry Roggenburk.
 
AJ’s full-time job is with Dominion East Ohio Gas (30 years) where he is a tech services specialist involved with fueling vehicles
powered by natural gas. AJ is President of The Three Deuce Five Foundation located in Brookpark, Ohio. He is a tireless volunteer for Marines in need, such as those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder after service in Middle East war zones. His Martial Arts demonstrations have raised thousands of dollars for Marine support groups. One demonstration included completing 2,200 pushups in 90 minutes.
 
The word Samurai translated means to serve. Master Perry as a Martial Artist has chosen to serve Marines in need as well as instilling this same spirit into his students.

 

Preston Powell

Induction Year : 2012

Sport: Softball

Preston Powell was an athletic superstar at Grambling University in Louisiana and recently was inducted into its Hall of Fame. The Cleveland Browns picked him in the seventh round of the 1961 college draft as a fullback to play behind the great Jim Brown, but Powell became a local legend in quite a different sport — slow pitch softball.

 The Browns released him after one season because Preston suffered a knee injury. He spent the next year with the Dallas Cowboys and a year with the Chicago Bears, but his knee never healed and his football career was over.

 He continued to live in Cleveland where he quickly became hooked on slow pitch softball. While playing in a Sunday morning league he was discovered by Joe Nato, who sponsored and managed a team called Star Motel in the old PD-Major Slow Pitch League at Morgana Park, one of the top softball leagues in the country. Preston couldn’t run but he compensated. He hit the ball out of the park. Soon Preston was the premier slugger in the league and one of the best in the world. Preston moved on to play for Erie Sheet Steel, Non-Ferrous Metal and Ohio Sealants, teams that were perennial contenders for national championships.

 In the 1960s and ’70s both The Plain Dealer and the Cleveland Press picked all-city softball teams and Preston made all-city 10 straight years. He played in 10 world tournaments. His teams won one world championship and others finished third and fourth in the world.

Tony Rini

Induction Year : 2011

Sport: Horse Racing

Tony Rini is arguably the most accomplished jockey ever born in northeastern Ohio.  He’s also the most courageous.  And to the delight of his friends and acquaintances, he’s probably the funniest.

Rini is the third thoroughbred jockey inducted into the Greater Cleveland Sports Hall of Fame.  He joins Danny Weiler, a former rival and one of his best friends, and the late Michael Rowland who rode for Rini when Tony turned to training.

It was a horrific accident during training hours at Oaklawn Park  in 1983 that ended Rin’s 24 years in the saddle, a career that saw him win 2,438 races and account for more than $10 million in purse earnings.

The accident left Rini with a broken back and a paralyzed left arm.  Doctors, after telling Rini he might never walk again, asked him if he would like to speak with a psychiatrist.  They feared he would attempt to kill himself.  He cautioned them that if they found him dead in the following moring, that he hadn’t done it.

Rini, born in Cleveland and reared on the near West Side, was introduced to racing at the Berea Fairgrounds where he hauled water buckets until a trainer gave him a leg up on a horse.

He won his first race at Thistledown in 1959 aboard Date Me.  It launched him on a path to nine riding titles at Thistledown and Randall Park.  He swept all four Thistledown riding championships in 1970 and his 287 winners that year ranked hm fourth in North America.

The outstanding season graduated Rini to the top level of racing at tracks like Churchill Downs, Keeneland and Arlington Park.

Rini participated in two Kentucky Derbys, finishing 19th on Jr.’s Arrowhead in 1971 and ninth aboard Chief Dixieland in 1978.  He did win the 1972 Illinois Derby on Fame and Power and returned home to win the 1973 Ohio Derby with Our Native.  Rini is now a trainer at Thistledown.  Among the riders he uses is his son, Wade Rini.

Billy Reynolds

Induction Year : 1980

Sport: Football

A pro football star with the Cleveland Browns for three years after a notable career at the University of Pittsburgh, he became a prominent high school football and basketball official, officiating state final contests in both sports during a career spanning over 20 years. As president of the Cleveland Touchdown Club he revived a failing organization and made it an important part of the Cleveland sports scene once again. Has also been active in the promotion of the Cleveland Browns Muny Football, Pee Wee and Bantamweight Leagues.
(Deceased)