One of the finest all-around woman athletes of the 20th century, her basketball career spanned an amazing 48 years, beginning in 1927 and concluding in 1975. Starred for many of Cleveland’s finest women’s teams, capturing innumerable All-Star, Outstanding Player and MVP awards. Organized the Polish Olympic team which built a 54-game winning streak, and won the Polish American championship in 1941-42 and 1942-43. She was the top scorer and Most Outstanding Player in both championship tournaments and was named to the Polish National All-American Team each year. Later played for the renowned world champion Rochester Filarets which set a record of 202 consecutive victories. In 1955, in her 28th year of organized basketball competition, she played for the North Hollywood Knickerbockers, winners of the California State AAU title, setting a state tourney record of 130 points and being named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.
Played 13 years of major league baseball, ten in a Cleveland Indians uniform. Won undying fame in the 1920 World Series when, as the Indians’ second baseman, he executed an unassisted triple play against the old Brooklyn Dodgers. He also led the American League in triples that season with 11, scored 83 runs and batted in 55. Traded to Boston in 1924, he enjoyed one of his finest seasons, hitting .274, collecting 41 doubles, scoring 93 runs and driving in 48.
A physical education instructor and administrator in Cleveland area schools from 1954 until the present, she has held many positions of responsibility with the AAU and in U.S. Olympic activities. Has served on National AAU Women’s Track and Field Committee since 1957, was National AAU Women’s Track and Field Rules Committee Chairman in 1963-64, U.S. Women’s Track and Field Manager for the 1959 and 1975 Pan American Games and U.S. Olympic Manager for the 1968 Women’s Track and Field Team.
Served as head professional from 1911 until 1952 at the Mayfield Country Club, a course he himself designed. Also designed and built The Westwood Country Club. Finished second in the National Open in 1899 and was still active as a golfer in his mid-80s.
Enjoyed successful 18-year amateur career, beginning in 1918. During this time she played for the following teams: Clark Muny (1918-21), Favorite Knits (1922-23), Rosenblums (1924), Newman Stern (1925-29), Allerton Hotel (1930-35) and Cleveland Aces (1936), all of which earned World Championship titles.
Coached and sponsored the Cleveland Striders Track Club dating back to the early 30s. Early involvement with the Knights of Columbus Track Meet Association (1940) led him through ever higher positions of leadership culminating in 1965 when he became Director of the meet. He was one of the founders of the Catholic Youth Organization. Made a member of the U.S. Olympic Committee for Track and Field in 1964, he has continued to serve youth through leadership roles in the Lake Erie Association of the AAU.
A graduate of Cornell in 1916, he was a two time collegiate All-American. His professional career included playing for the Massillon Tigers, Cleveland Bulldogs, Akron Indians, and the Toledo Blades. He was the Tigers’ left end when they played Jim Thorpe and the Canton Bulldogs for the world title in 1919. The other Tigers end at that time was Knute Rockne of Notre Dame. Ladimir also helped in the establishment of the NFL Hall of Fame.
Born in Georgia, raised in Wheeling WV where he was an all-state football and basketball star, then became an all-conference basketball standout at Lincoln University in Missouri and an all-U.S. Army cage star in Germany, he returned to West Virginia in 1959 then headed north to join the Cleveland Pipers of the American Basketball League. Fortunately for the City of Cleveland, his travels stopped on the shores of Lake Erie. Like the very special man who was his coach with the Pipers, John B. McLendon, Jr., he became a special figure in the city’s athletic picture, teaching, coaching, serving as an athletic director and department chairmen in the Cleveland Public Schools from 1966 to 1985, and working with the Cleveland Recreation Department as Supervisor of Recreation and Manager of Organized Sports during that same period. He also began an affiliation in 1972 with the Cleveland Baseball Federation as Supervisor and Director of Operations for its amateur baseball programs which continue to this day. His retirement in 1986 from the city schools and recreation department opened the door for him to direct basketball program which would provide activities for 1,850 city youths aged 9-17 and also to play a key role in the organization of the Summer Pro-Am NCAA Basketball League which attracted NBA and top college basketball players to Cleveland State’s Woodling Gym for a decade. From 1988-2000 he also served as Director of the Cleveland Municipal Football League which more than doubled in size under his guidance, and had been instrumental in the growth of the Cleveland Old Timers Basketball Club. He makes his home in East Cleveland.
Playing for the awesome Cleveland Browns teams of 1947-1953 which produced seven players and a head coach now enshrined in the NFL Hall of Fame, he was one of the very best. An All-American tackle at Ohio State, he became the first African-American player signed by an All-American Football Conference team when Paul Brown recruited him for his new Browns team in 1946. Despite weighing barely 215 pounds he became an immediate starter both on the offensive and defensive line. But it was his lightning quickness and devastating tackling as a middle guard that elevated him above the pack. And it was those skills which he combined to create his signature play, one which deserved a permanent niche on the positive-side list of sports memories forever emblazoned in the minds of Cleveland’s long-suffering sports fans, opposite “The drive,” “The Fumble,” and “the Shot.” “The Tackle” took place on the afternoon of December 17, 1950 in the final quarter of the NFL American Conference championship game between the Browns and the New York Giants. With Cleveland clinging to a fourth quarter 3-0 lead, the Giants Choo-Choo Roberts broke into the open from the Browns’ 36 and seemed headed for a decisive touchdown when suddenly Willis flashed into the picture. Gaining ground with every step, he caught Roberts from behind at the four, paving the way for an 8-3 victory and a conference title which enabled the Browns to move on to capture the NFL championship in their first season in the league. It may have been the best of many incredible feats that were to earn him selections to three All-AAFC and four All-NFL teams, to play in three NFL Pro Bowls, to help his teams to four AAFC and one NFL title and propel him into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1977.
Born and raised in a nickel mining town in northern Ontario, where you could play hockey outdoors form October until mid-April, Bob Whidden followed his heart and talents to the Toronto Maple Leafs organization in 1967 at age 21 after two years in the Ontario Junior League. After six minor league seasons, he signed with the Cleveland Crusaders of the World Hockey Association in 1972 as the backup to Hall of Fame ‘keeper Gerry Cheevers, and in 1973, the two shared the league’s lowest goals against average. In four seasons with the Crusaders, he averaged nearly 26 games per year, limiting opponents to less than 3.5 goals per game. Shortly after undergoing a second back surgery in the spring of 1976, he saw the Crusaders fold, and after a brief stint in the Indianapolis Pacers organization in 1977, he elected to retire and return to Cleveland, where he became a major figure in the city’s hockey circles. He played a key role in bringing the Lumberjacks franchise to the city, has run innumerable hockey clinics for youngsters, and coached at several amateur levels. He is best known for his success at St. Edward High School, where he became head coach in 1984 and has since taken the Eagles to the Final Four of the Ohio High School AAA Championships 15 times and won nine state titles. He and his wife Irma make their home in North Olmsted.
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