Joe Wise

Induction Year : 2006

Sport: Basketball

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.

Russ Schneider

Induction Year : 2006

Sport: Media

As a native Clevelander he was treated to the successes and subjected to the agonies of the Cleveland Indians form his earliest childhood. After graduating from West Tech in 1946, serving two stints in the U.S. Marines, and failing, thanks to a recalcitrant bat, in an attempt to personally improve the Tribe’s fortunes by signing on as a catcher in their farm system, he sharpened his skills by acquiring a degree in English from Baldwin-Wallace College and eventually found his way to a desk in The Plain Dealer sports department, where he would assume the task of covering the Indians in 1964 and eventually become a nationally known chronicler of the Indians fortunes and history. It was a labor of love – often touch love – for the first 14 seasons as he covered a succession of teams which finished as high as third only once. He was reassigned, perhaps mercifully, to cover the more successful Cleveland Browns in 1978. Then in February, 1984 he assumed a new role as the paper’s investigative reporter for sports and in 1988 his assignment was further broadened to that of national baseball writer, columnist and special assignment reporter. The latter assignments were tailor made for the hard-nosed Schneider who thrived on burrowing deeply into the facts for his news stories. Firmly established in the eyes of his peers and the public as a reporter’s reporter (he has been inducted into three journalism-related halls of fame and earned a Distinguished Service Award from the Society for Professional Journalists), he embarked on a new career in 1993 as an author, primarily dealing with Cleveland Indians history. He has written a dozen books, including The Cleveland Indians Encyclopedia, now on its third edition. He makes his home in Seven Hills.

Michael Rowland

Induction Year : 2006

Sport: Horse Racing

There is no way of knowing if Michael Rowland would have succeeded in his quest for the 4,000th victory of his career that day. All that is certain is his mount, the prophetically named World Trade, was leading the seventh race at Kentucky’s Turfway Park on February 4, 2004 when it fractured a leg and collapsed, throwing Rowland to the ground where he was struck by the two horses immediately behind him. Less than five days later, the 41-year-old rider, who had hoped to become just the 43rd rider nationally to accumulate 4,000 victories, instead became the 144th jockey to die of racing injuries in North America since 1940. It was a particularly sad day for horse racing fans in Cleveland where Rowland had been operating from Thistledown as his home base for most of his 24 years as a rider. He had won 29 meet titles, both all-time track records, and he twice won six races in a day, tying an Ohio thoroughbred racing record. Among his most notable victories in Cleveland were the first runnings of the $200,000 Best of Ohio Endurance Championship in 1987 and the Grade 3 Thistledown Budweiser Breeders’ Cup in 1997. A native of Saratoga Springs, NY, where he learned his trade from his father, who was a successful harness trainer. He was also married to a trainer, Tammy, whom he met at Keeneland Rack Track and who was working at Turfway Park at the time of his fatal accident.
(Deceased)

Kai Haaskivi

Induction Year : 2006

Sport: Soccer

He arrived in the United States in 1978 bringing an impressive dossier of soccer credentials with him from native Finland to make a major impact on American soccer first as a player, and later as a player coach and eventually solely as a coach and teacher. Nowhere had that impact been stronger than in Ohio and particularly in the Greater Cleveland area. He began his American career in the North American Soccer League, playing for three years there and also playing indoors with the newly formed Major Indoor Soccer League. He joined the Cleveland Force for the 1982-83 season and gave the city its first genuine indoor soccer hero during five seasons in which his Nordic good looks and scoring feats so captivated the town that in a 1985 Plain Dealer poll asking readers to name the Top Ten Greatest Athletes in Cleveland sports history he finished third behind Bob Feller and Jim Brown. When the franchise floundered he left to join the Baltimore Blast in 1987-88 and 1988-89, only to return triumphantly as player-coach of the reborn Cleveland Crunch in 1988-89, continuing as a player here until his retirement in 1993. When his career in the MISL ended he ranked second in assists, third in points scored, eighth in total games played and 10th in goals scored and had the privilege of seeing his Number 12 become the first number retired in the 24-history of Cleveland indoor soccer. He has since served in a variety of coaching positions in professional, amateur and youth programs, and in 2005 became the head women’s soccer coach and assistant to the director of athletics at Cleveland’s Myers University. He lives in Rocky River.

Tom Cousineau

Induction Year : 2006

Sport: Football

The son of Lakewood High School’s football coach was a good learner. So good that by the time he wound up an awesome career at neighboring St. Edward High in 1974 as an All-Ohio and All-American linebacker he had become one of the nation’s most coveted players. How coveted? On the night before the NCAA’s national letter signing day, three coaches gathered in the Cousineau home to do verbal battle for his signature. It was a gathering of legends – Bo Schembechler of Michigan, Joe Paterno of Penn State and Ohio State’s Woody Hayes. In a red letter day fot the Scarlet and Gray, Hayes emerged a winner. Cousineau went on to win All-American honors in 1977 and 1978 (and a quarter-century later to be named the winner of the 2003 Butkus Silver Anniversary Award as the best linebacker in college football from 25 years ago). He would set an OSU season record with 211 tackles in 1978, take part in 29 tackles against Penn State, at the time another Buckeye mark with 16 solo tackles against Southern Methodist. At the end of his senior year he was selected by the Buffalo Bills, with the first pick in the 1979 NFL draft. Unable to reach a contract agreement, he opted to play for the Montreal Alouettes in the Canadian Football League where he became the Grey Cup MVP in 1979. The Bills traded his rights to the Cleveland Browns in 1983 and in five seasons with the Browns he led the team in tackles three times and was picked to two all-NFL teams. He ended his career with the San Francisco 49’ers, retiring in 1987. In 2006, he announced his candidacy for a seat in the Ohio House of Representatives, won his primary and is currently Republican candidate for the seat.

Joe Charboneau

Induction Year : 2006

Sport: Baseball

Just as Camelot provided the inhabitants of King Arthur’s court with “one brief shining moment,” Charboneau would do the same for long-suffering Cleveland Indians fans some 14 centuries later. The carefree native of Belvidere, IL, burst upon an unsuspecting major league scene in 1980, two years after being traded to the Indians by the Philadelphia Phillies in a minor league deal. With spring training injuries opening the door, he found himself in the Tribe’s starting lineup on April 11 and proceeded to hit-and hit-and hit. By season’s end he had built a .289 batting average with 23 home runs and 87 runs batted in and found he had been named the American League’s “Rookie of the Year.” But there were other sides to the irrepressible rookie’s talents which kept the town buzzing, the turnstiles humming and inspired the inexplicably popular song hit “Go Joe Charboneau” which soared to #3 on the local charts. Such as his penchant for dying his hair grotesquely unnatural colors, opening beer bottles with his eye socket and drinking the beer through his nose with a straw, doing his own dental work and reportedly resetting a broken nose with a pair of pliers. It was enough to terrorize every mother of an impressionable youngster, but somehow to know him was to love him. It all came to a crashing end (literally) the following spring when he hurt his back in a headfirst slide during an exhibition game. He was never the same. He underwent two back surgeries, played in 60 more major league games and was released in 1983. But the mutual love affair with Cleveland prompted him to continue making his home in the area while staying active in various baseball-related activities and he now makes his home in North Ridgeville.

Mary Ann Bierman

Induction Year : 2006

Sport: Golf

A dominant competitive figure on the Greater Cleveland golf scene for a remarkable span of nearly 40 years, she was still hitting ‘em down the fairways in quest of more titles at the time of her induction into the Greater Cleveland Sports Hall of Fame. Her collection of trophies at that point reflected nine Greater Cleveland Women’s Golf Association championships between 1969 and 2004 and seven runner-up finished, two titles and a pair of second place finishes in the Women’s Ohio State Golf Association Senior Championships, one title, one medalist and four semi-finalist finishes in the Women’s Ohio State Golf Association Championships and a myriad of other titles or significant finishes in tournaments not only in Ohio, but also on a national level as well as in her earlier years in her native state of Pennsylvania. Small wonder that the Northern Ohio PGA designated her a “Legend of Golf” in 2003. A retired teacher who graduated from Ursuline College, and taught at elementary, high school and college level, she was a co-founder, along with her daughter, Anne Caja, an All-American golfer at William and Mary College, of the Ohio Girls Golf Foundation in 1994, a organization which has been instrumental in fostering the growth of the girls golf in Greater Cleveland schools by providing golf training programs, financial assistance to compete in golf tournaments and in providing college scholarships. She lives in Chagrin Falls.

Dick Ambrose

Induction Year : 2006

Sport: Football

What was earning first team all-ACC honors as a middle linebacker at the University of Virginia worth to Dick Ambrose? Selection in the 12th round of the 1975 NFL draft by the Cleveland Browns. What was Dick Ambrose worth to the Cleveland Browns for the next nine seasons? Priceless. The 6-0 235-pounder, who earned the nickname “Bam Bam” which he carried through his career when he broke a pair of shoulder pads while making a tackle in his rookie season, became a starter early on and retained that status, starting 64 consecutive games, until a broken leg sidelined him in the sixth game of the 1983 season. He led the team in tackles for five consecutive years from 1977 to 1981, was named the team’s most valuable defensive player in 1977, was an integral part of the storied “Kardiac Kids” in 1980- a team which wrote a special page in the Browns’ history – was voted the winner of the Browns’ Captains Award made annually to “a team player and an inspiration” in 1981 and was elected a team co-captain in 1982. He began studying law while still an active player and received his degree from Cleveland State’s Marshall College of Law in 1987 and practiced law in Cleveland until he was appointed a judge of the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas in 2004. The native of New Rochelle, NY has remained active in a large number of civic, charitable and athletic affairs in Greater Cleveland and makes his home in Westlake.