Pitched in Amateur Softball Association leagues in and around Cleveland from 1941 to 1965, amassing over 600 victories and 50 no-hitters during his career. He played on teams which won 36 league, city and ASA open championships, including the 1957 ASA Open Regional in which he defeated a powerful Detroit team featuring ASA Hall of Famer Bonnie Jones. Payne also garnered victories over such other softball greats as Warren Gerber, Sambo Elliott and Charlie “Choo Choo” Justice during is illustrious career.
Worked for many years to provide opportunities and competition for black bowlers. Formed the Cleveland Bowlers group in the 1930s with 40 members. Now known as the Cleveland Bowling Senate, it currently numbers more than 3,000 bowlers in its membership. Also helped found the National Bowling Association which currently has over 35,000 members. Was the first African American to be elected to American Bowling Congress Hall of Fame, in 1978.
An outstanding boxing coach and trainer for 20 years, he developed many topnotch amateurs who went on to win Cleveland Golden Gloves titles, National Golden Gloves, and National AAU Boxing titles. Helped organize Cleveland Amateur Boxing Trainers Association and was its first president.
A 26-time finalist in national diving championships, Was a member of the United States’ 1976 Women’s Olympic Diving Team, finishing eight in Montreal in the three-meter springboard. Gold medalist in 1973 Pan-African Games, and was named the Outstanding Women Diver in the 1969 U.S. National Championships while still a senior at Berea High School. Later competed for Indiana University and Clarion State College.
Amateur career stretched from 1924 through 1937. Played with Muny Championship Favorite Knits (1926-27) and Blepp Coombs (1927-30) and on City Class A Championship teams for four additional seasons. Named to National AAU All-Tournament second team while playing for Chicago Baby Ruth Girls in 1934-35. Returned to Cleveland and played for Fisher Foods’ City and Inter-City champs in 1935-36 and 1936-37 seasons, then turned professional to play three seasons with famed All-American Redheads.
An incredible record of having officiated basketball for 52 years, football for 46 years and baseball for 15 years marks the baseline of a remarkable career. He has been a world-wide clinician and was elected to officiate at the World University Games on several occasions. As Supervisor of Organized Sports for the Cleveland Division of Recreation, he gave leadership to many programs and opportunity to thousands of youth.
A graduate of East Technical High School, he went on to NAIA All-American honors (1955-56) and (1956-57) in college in the high hurdles and long jump. He qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials in 1956 as a hurdler. A consistent competitor, his participation always showed the excellence which marked his distinguished career.
Football at Benedictine High School and the University of Dayton led to a seven year professional career with the Cleveland Browns as an offensive guard and linebacker. During his years with the Browns they won five divisional titles and played in three NFL title games (1953, 1954, 1955), winning two. Subsequently, as head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers he led them to an unprecedented four Super Bowl titles.
While attending St. Ignatius High School from 1956 through 1958 he won all-scholastic and most valuable player honors in the last two years, and All-Ohio designation in 1958. At the University of Dayton he was voted most valuable player in 1960 and 1962, (the year Dayton won the NIT Championship) which led to All-American selection that year.
From 1922 through 1927 she pitched for Fleming Furniture (national champions) and Blepp Coombs. A blazing southpaw pitcher, her skills enabled her to beat men’s teams, striking out 18 in one 9-inning game, when women’s opposition wasn’t available.
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