Served as Athletic Director of the Greater Cleveland Catholic Youth Organization from 1941 to 1972. Under his direction CYO football leagues grew from 19 to 79 member teams. He was instrumental in adding track, cross country, soccer, softball and wrestling to the CYO sports program. More than 4,000 boys played CYO football in his final year as athletic director.
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.
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 big man with a big heart and an unswerving dedication to the youthful athletes of Greater Cleveland, John Peyton’s passion was to “keep the kids on the playgrounds and off the streets.” Countless rec rooms and mantles in Northeastern Ohio homes are decorated with plaques, medals and trophies bearing testimony to his determination to develop awards programs for as many young athletes as possible in as many sports as possible. He offered time, support and guidance to a multitude of sports organizations: executive secretary for two high school leagues, the MAC and the NCL; board member of the CYO; CAVS Rebounders Club and the Parma Amateur Athletic Foundation; and supervisor of area baseball and softball tourneys for the OHSAA. Most visible was his work with two of the city’s highest profile sports groups: as Executive Secretary of the Cleveland Baseball Federation, he was indispensable in keeping it a bulwark for the city’s amateur baseball programs. And when, in his second term as president of the Cleveland Touchdown Club, an organization supporting all levels of football competition, the Browns flew off to Baltimore, he resolutely kept the Club afloat until the team was reborn. Before his heart stopped suddenly in October, 2000 at age 44, he would have pooh-poohed the added importance of those last two roles. For John Peyton, it was all about the games.
Served as Fenn College’s first and only athletic director from the inception of intercollegiate athletics at the school in 1929 until it became Cleveland State University in 1965, then stayed on CSU’s first athletic director for an additional year, a total of 37 years of service to the school in all. Coached basketball, baseball, track, golf and tennis at some time during his tenure at Fenn and was responsible for launching every intercollegiate sports program for men now in existence at Cleveland State save cross country.
Cleveland’s Commissioner of Recreation since 1947, he developed a broad program of recreation for its citizens which has served as a model for many of the nation’s large cities. Instituted a program of competitive sports for girls in the 1950s, which was a national first. It was through this program that Madeline Manning Jackson began a track career leading to an Olympic gold medal in 1968. Elected to the National Softball Hall of Fame in 1976 and National Boxing Hall of Fame in 1977.
Active on the Cleveland sports scene for 41 years, eh served as athletic director at Cleveland James Ford Rhodes High School from 1933 to 1942 and subsequently as Director of Playgrounds and Community Centers for the Cleveland Board of Education. He was president of the Greater Cleveland Boxing Commission in 1953, National AAU Chairman for Olympic Development in 1964 and president of the Lake Erie AAU. He helped launch the Junior Olympics program in 1946.
Served the Cleveland school system for forty years (1933-73) as a teacher and football coach, as supervisor of Physical Welfare and as Director of Athletics for the Cleveland Board of Education. Helped develop the Junior Olympics and Life Time Sports programs, both locally and nationally. Held the presidency of state and national associations of Health, Physical Education and Recreation and was secretary of the Cleveland Senate Athletic Council for 22 years.
Worked closely with the Cleveland area coaching fraternity for 27 years as president of Olympic Sport Goods, Inc. He was a football and track official for 40 years and for 37 years served as president and secretary of the amateur Cuyahoga Valley Baseball League. After his own retirement he formed an organization for retired coaches and athletic directors which he headed until his death in 1976.
Helped lay the foundation for Cleveland’s amateur sports program, a program which served as a model for many cities. A founder of the Muny Football Association, he served as its first president from 1946 to 1960. Also served as president of the Muny Basketball Association from 1931 until 1960, chairman of the football and basketball arbitration boards, and secretary of the Cleveland Baseball Federation’s arbitration board.
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