About Us

Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Fame

ABOUT H.O.F.

About the Hall of Fame

The Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Fame was created in 1955 by the NSGA Board of Directors to honor the pioneers, innovators and leaders who built the sporting goods industry and to help recognize and encourage excellence within the industry.

Are you interested in nominating someone for the Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Fame?

Candidate Criteria

Candidates must be an industry manufacturer, sporting goods retailer or team dealer or an industry influencer. The criteria for Manufacturers to be elected to the Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Fame include the development and successful production of products that significantly improve sports performance and the introduction of important safety factors for sporting goods products. All innovations must be substantiated.

Retailers/Dealers must demonstrate innovation and leadership as well as participation in industry-wide activities. Monetary success is not a determining factor.

Industry Influencers must have made a significant contribution to a program, organization or service directly impacting the sporting goods industry or have promoted the public’s awareness and appreciation of the importance of sports participation.

 

2023 Call for Nominations

Nominations are open through March 31, 2023.

Qualifications

Manufacturer Criteria

Retailer/Dealer Criteria

Industry Influencer Criteria

Members of every segment of the industry have the opportunity to submit the names of manufacturers, sporting goods retailers/dealers, and industry influencers they deem worthy of election to the Hall of Fame for extraordinary contributions to the growth and progress of the industry. Nominations are reviewed by the Hall of Fame Committee, which is comprised of manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers/dealers, agents and industry influencers.

Induction ceremonies are held at the NSGA Annual Management Conference & Team Dealer Summit.

Questions? Contact Julie Pitts, Hall of Fame Secretary, 3041 Woodcreek Drive, Suite 210, Downers Grove, IL 60515 or hof@nsga.org.

2017 Inductee
Larry Aasheim

In 1971, at the early age of twenty-four, Larry Aasheim and his friend Dick Harte boldly set out on a new business venture. The partners wanted to provide high quality, specialty sporting goods for Montana’s young athletes. With little resources and man power, they began driving around the state of Montana trying to get sporting goods orders from high school and college athletic programs.

Forty-five years later, that “backseat” startup has become Universal Athletic Service, a regional sporting goods company headquartered in Bozeman, MT that calls on and provides services to every school and college in nine states in the Western United States. Universal Athletic is considered the largest independent team dealer in the country. 

Aasheim was officially the first employee of the company, making the very first sale. In early years, he worked in all facets of the company but emphasized school sales. As the company grew, he took on management duties, and in 1989 he took over as company president and chairman of the board. 

For forty-five years, Aasheim worked out of the same building on Main Street in Bozeman and watched his company grow from two employees and $100,000 in sales to more than 250 employees and $50 million in sales. Universal now operates 13 retail locations and staffs 50 wholesale salespeople.

Throughout the years, Aasheim has been actively involved in the Bozeman community. He has been president of the Bozeman Little League, Hawk Boosters, MSU Quarterback Block and Bobcat Boosters. He has also received several prestigious awards including the Bozeman Area of Commerce Community Service Award, the North Dakota Coaches Association Service Award, the Montana Coaches Association Service Award and the T.A.B Award. 

For anyone who has been fortunate enough to work with Aasheim, they would say that no one has cared about their employees quite as much as he. Aasheim is like family to many former and current Universal employees. He creates an atmosphere of comfort and fun, and he is the first to acknowledge when great work is done by an employee. The numerous employees who have been with Universal for 10, 15 and 20 plus years are a great testament to Aasheim as a leader and a person, and the culture he has created within the Universal family.

1988 Inductee
Lee R. Anderson

LEE R. ANDERSON started his career in the sporting goods industry in 1933 working part-time at Alexander Sporting Goods in Danville, Illinois.  After graduating from high school in 1935, he enrolled in the University of Illinois, majoring in agriculture. While a student at the University of Illinois, Anderson worked part-time at Bailey & Himes in Champaign, Illinois.  In 1945, he returned to Danville and purchased Alexander’s from its original owner, Cleve Alexander. The business has remained in the Anderson family ever since. During his long career in the sporting goods industry, Mr. Anderson served two terms as a member of the NSGA Board of Directors. He also served as Treasurer and Vice Chairman of the association, before becoming Chairman of the Board in 1977. 
He was also a past President of The Sports Foundation. Mr. Anderson was also quite active in numerous local, civic and business groups. He was a founder of the Danville Little League and Pony League, served on the University of Illinois President’s Council, was a member of the Danville High School Booster’s Club and the Illini Quarterback Club, was a board member of the YMCA, and also served on the Danville Planning Commission.  Mr. Anderson retired from Alexander’s in 1987 and died in January 1988. 

1990 Inductee
Rooster Andrews

ROOSTER ANDREWS, after earning a business degree from the University of Texas, got his start in the sporting goods industry in 1946 when he accepted a position with C & S Sporting Goods in Austin to sell team sporting goods to schools and institutional accounts.  He ultimately became president of C & S in 1961, a position he held until 1969, when he became Vice President and Manager of Texas Sporting Goods located in Victoria, Texas, a new operation. Two years later, the store’s annual sales exceeded $1 million.  In 1971 Andrews started his own company – Rooster Andrews Sporting Goods – that today consists of three stores in Austin that produce annual sales in excess of $5 million and which employ 80 people. Andrews is a member of the City of Austin Athletic Hall of Fame and a past winner of the Doak Walker NFL Alumni Association Award (1987) for contributions to the sport of football, and has served as President of the Texas Athletic Dealers Association.  

2005 Inductee
Roger Atkin

Long recognized as a pioneer and innovator in sports licensing, promotion and marketing, ROGER ATKIN served the industry for 30 years as Vice President of NFL Properties. Joining NFL Properties six years after its founding, Atkin developed a diversified group of licensees to provide team-identified products to a cross-section of retailers and NFL fans.  He initiated and assisted licensees in developing new products.  He established product quality contract standards, and his persistence led to the implementation of a trademark protection program. Atkin refined and broadened the development of the “Team Shop” concept to assist licensees in expanding distribution and give retailers a vehicle to merchandise and promote team-identified products.  In 1978, Atkin created the Super Bowl licensing program, the first in professional sports.  He developed the locker room “Championship” merchandise concept that was the forerunner to the multi-billion dollar post-game programs of today.  Industry respect for his knowledge and expertise earned him an invitation to address the U.S. trademark Association on the subject of the then-uncharted waters of “Sports Licensing and Trademark Protection.”  The U.S. Olympic Overview Commission and the North American Soccer League also sought his counsel. He and his wife Eloise reside in Lansdale, Pa. They have three daughters and eight grandchildren.

2016 Inductee
Bill Battle

Bill Battle is not just the founder of the Collegiate Licensing Company (CLC), he is arguably the founder of the concept of collegiate licensing itself. In 1981, upon signing legendary coach Paul “Bear” Bryant to a licensing agreement, Battle had to first help the University of Alabama make a licensing department in which to work. From there, the CLC was born.  Battle was a visionary who understood strength and efficiency in numbers. Using a model similar to the NFL’s, Battle went door to door convincing administrators of a vision where all trademarks were regulated and available in one place. According to Battle, schools, licensees and retailers would all benefit if they just joined together.  Battle’s vision became a reality and collegiate licensing became a $4.3 billion dollar industry. He was able to develop the first label that signified “officially licensed collegiate products.” Under Battle’s guidance, the CLC grew to represent more than 200 schools, conferences and bowl games, as well as NASCAR and the PGA Tour. However, he never strayed from his passion for college sports. Bill Battle also made himself famous as a college head coach. At 29, Battle was the youngest college head coach in the country while at the University of Tennessee from 1970-1976. He is now the Athletic Director of the University of Alabama, where he once played football and was assistant coach under “Bear” Bryant.  Battle has been recognized for his tremendous leadership capabilities and the large impact he had on all facets of the sporting goods industry by several organizations throughout his career. He received a National Football Foundation award in 2008 for Outstanding Contributions to Amateur Football. In 2010, Battle was inducted into the National Association of Collegiate Marketing Administrators’ (NACMA) Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame and received its Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011.  Battle remains one of the most quietly influential figures in college athletics today. Working as CLC’s chairman and adviser at the age of 70, Battle is still essential to client relations. In fact, athletic directors still respect and call upon him, whether they have a question about business or they’re looking to hire a position. Battle is the go-to guy. 

2011 Inductee
Jim Baugh

JIM BAUGH and the sport of tennis will forever be linked. Baugh’s passion for the sport was demonstrated in successes at Wilson Sporting Goods Co. and earlier in his career, at Prince Manufacturing.  Baugh joined Wilson in 1987 as general manager of Wilson Racquet Sports, and was named president of Wilson Sporting Goods in 1996.  He served in that position until 2003.  As president, Baugh led a very profitable $1 billion global company, developing a uniform branding and marketing approach for all divisions.   While at Wilson, Baugh joined the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association (SGMA) board of directors, a position he still holds.  His vision for improving the health and fitness of American children became reality through this role and the creation of PE4Life, which is dedicated to rebuilding quality physical education programs in our nation’s schools.  After leaving Wilson, Baugh served as president of the Tennis Industry Association and as a board member of the United States Tennis Association (USTA).  He helped launch grassroots programs that turned around a decline in participation and saw a 23% increase in play occasions.  Baugh currently consults with various companies and associations in the sporting goods and leisure industry.  

1966 Inductee
Fred Bear

FRED BEAR is directly responsible for development of design and manufacturing processes used by all present-day manufacturers of high quality archery bows. He was the first to make possible mass production of bows and arrows and holds several patents relating to the manufacture of archery equipment.  Born in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, Mr. Bear started the Bear Products Company in 1933. In 1946 the company was incorporated and re-named Bear Archery Company, with Fred Bear as President. That same year the plant was moved from Detroit to Grayling, Michigan, where it continues to flourish.  Bowhunting is a recognized sport today largely as a result of Fred Bear’s legislative efforts by personal appearances before state commissions and committees and his continuing attention since 1927. Favorable action was based to a great degree on his personal bowhunting success and his dedication to the principle that hunting with a bow has a definite place in sound conservation policy.  Before 1935, bowhunting was not recognized by any state. When a ban was placed on the discharge of firearms in the vicinity of the Lumberman’s Monument in Tawas, Michigan, Fred Bear and fellow bowmen hunted in this area. Following his successful experiment, Bear helped present the case for legislative approval, with the result that two Michigan counties were opened to bowhunting in 1937. Today’s recognition of bowhunting by Conservation Departments and Game and Fish Commissions of many states is a result of Bear’s appearances, correspondence and devotion.  Fred Bear, at his own expense, undertook the task of popularizing bowhunting, utilizing photography. He is the author of 14 films having international distribution to both private and television audiences. The films are on bowhunting for big game; also on archery instruction and manufacturing processes. They are without advertising of any kind, carrying only the legend, “Presented in the Interest of Good Hunting by the Bear Archery Company.” The archery industry admittedly rose to its present multi-million dollar position because of bowhunting. The success of the industry can rightly be attributed to the pioneering efforts and the continuing attention it has received from Fred Bear. 

2015 Inductee
David Beckerman

In 1971, DAVID BECKERMAN, a former basketball player for Southern Connecticut State University, founded Starter.  Based in New Haven, CT, Starter is an American  manufacturing company of sporting goods apparel, footwear and accessories, made famous for its authentic team satin jackets.  Beckerman was quickly able to turn his small business into one of the most successful sports and athletic apparel merchandisers in the world. At its peak in profits, Starter grossed more than $750 million a year.  Starter owes its success directly to Beckerman, who dedicated his life’s work to creating authentic apparel that capitalized on the emotional bond fans have to a sports team and/or individual players. Beckerman accomplished this by successfully being the first to enter into licensing agreements with professional sports leagues for the right to manufacture and market replicas of professional team apparel and later, to supply clothing worn on the field by professional players.  Beckerman got his first big break when, in 1976, he was able to obtain non-exclusive licensing agreements with a number of Major League Baseball (MLB) teams for the right to manufacture and market authentic replicas of MLB team jackets, jerseys and shirts. Shortly thereafter, Beckerman  expanded into headgear, active-wear and accessories. The company Starter truly took off after Beckerman was able to obtain licenses to sell apparel worn by professional players during games in 1979.  Starter instantly became famous for its satin jackets worn by Major League Baseball players.  By 1983, Starter was developing clothing with the NBA, NFL, NHL and the Canadian Football League (CFL). It was not long before Starter became a household name. Beckerman capitalized on the success using aggressive marketing strategies that lifted the brand of Starter to new heights. For example, Beckerman intentionally placed the Starter logo on the back of his baseball caps so that when fans fashionably wore the hats backwards the Starter logo was front and center.  As a result, consumers would see the Starter logo before even knowing what team the wearer was representing. His marketing strategies led to instant brand loyalty and escalated the Starter name into a fashion status symbol among fans. Beckerman sold Starter in 1999. He is currently the chairman of Acorn Group, a real estate management and investment company. Beckerman gives back to the community through The David A. Beckerman Foundation and the Beckerman Family Pace Funds. He also continues to partake in his first passion, basketball, by coaching the Pine Crest School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. and Hamden Hall in Connecticut.  

1968 Inductee
Arthur Benson

Born in October 1896, ARTHUR R. BENSON is a pioneer figure in the fishing tackle industry and was instrumental in founding the American Fishing Tackle Manufacturers Association and the Sport Fishing Institute. Long dedicated to the cause of fish conservation and to the growth of sport fishing, Mr. Benson entered the fishing tackle industry in 1920 when he founded the W.W. Mildrum Jewel Company, now the Mildrum Manufacturing Company, of East Berline, Connecticut.  Mr. Benson was instrumental in joining the Eastern and Western Tackle Associations into the American Fishing Tackle Manufacturers Association 36 years ago.

From 1936 through 1953, Mr. Benson served as president of the American Fishing Tackle Manufacturers Association and devoted himself to the promotion and growth of the industry and the sport of fishing.  Mr. Benson also served as president of the Sport Fishing Institute during the first 10 years of its existence from 1949 to 1959. He dedicated himself to the aims of the Sport Fishing Institute in efforts to fight pollution and promote fish conservation and fishing areas.  Mr. Benson is a member of the Izaak Walton League of America and a director of the Wildlife Management Institute. Through his efforts and years of selfless service, Mr. Benson has insured a bright future for the sport fishing industry.  

2021 Inductee
Eric Bezanson

Working in a hardware store gave ERIC BEZANSON some of the necessary tools for long-term success in the sporting goods industry.

One of Bezanson’s first jobs was a buyer for the sporting goods section of T.B. Calkin Ltd., in the Canadian maritime province of Nova Scotia. Bezanson became manager of Calkin’s first sporting goods store in the mid-1960s and that led to his purchase of Cleve’s Sporting Goods in Halifax in 1972.

His involvement in the formative years with the Sports Distributors of Canada (SDC) helped Bezanson grow Cleve’s Source For Sports to 18 retail locations, two team/institutional locations and a seasonal ski hill in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Bezanson’s success and devotion to the industry made him an ideal choice for the Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Fame Class of 2021. He joins retired SDC president Randy Hooper (2012), John Forzani of The Forzani Group (2010) and Jack Cooper of Cooper International, Inc., (1979) as Canadian members of the Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Fame.

“Congratulations to Eric on your induction to the Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Fame joining the late Jack Cooper, the late John Forzani and myself as the four Canadians to be so honoured as members of this prestigious Hall of Fame,” Hooper said. “Your vision and relentless work ethic built the Cleve’s organization from a single store in Halifax to dominating sporting goods retail and team sales on the east coast of Canada. Your support of the Source for Sports group of retailers contributed strongly to the success and respect the group enjoys today.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed our relationship over the many years participating together on the boards of Sports Distributors of Canada and the Canadian Sporting Goods Association. A visit to Halifax always included a sensational lobster feast with the Bezanson family and a friendship I will always cherish.”

Bezanson played baseball and hockey as a kid but had a larger interest in business and sales. His timing for moving his family to Halifax could not have been better as the sportswear market and fitness boom took off in North America. Bezanson transformed Cleve’s focus from hunting, fishing and traditional sports to include more emphasis on athletic shoes and clothing that customers need year-round.

One of the keys for Cleve’s growth was Bezanson making sure he fought for his business but also understanding the best deal was a win-win for both parties. Bezanson’s organizational skills let brands know their products would be well-represented in Cleve’s stores.

Bezanson also devoted a lot of time back to the sporting goods industry. He served on the Board of Directors of the Canadian Sporting Goods Association (CSGA) from 1979-89 and received the CSGA Award of Merit in 1989. He also served on the SDC Board of Directors from 1989-95.

Supporting local sports has been a big part of Cleve’s success as it has outlasted challenges from other chains in its territories. Cleve’s has been a sponsoring partner of Sport Nova Scotia almost since the organization started. Cleve’s is also a title sponsor for the Sport Nova Scotia Athlete of the Month program, which rewards male and female individual athletes and teams with gift certificates to its stores and a framed certificate.

Cleve’s also supports KidSport™, a Sport Nova Scotia program that helps youth in need participate in organized sports. Cleve’s also sponsors Run Nova Scotia and donates prizes to almost any sports team or association that asks for fundraising help.

“Eric hasn’t built a business; he’s built an institution deeply rooted in empowering the communities in which they live,” said Ed Kinnaly, CEO of Bauer Hockey. “The business that Eric and his family have built reflect their values as people who genuinely care about doing good for the long-term.  We’re incredibly fortunate to have an organization like Cleve’s in our industry.”

Bezanson’s success led to recognition in 1997 from the Maritime Sporting Goods Association and as the Atlantic Canada Entrepreneur of the Year in the retail category. Cleve’s also received a Snowsports Industry Association (SIA) Canadian Retailer of the Year honor in 2013.

Thousands of employees have fueled Cleve’s success and that includes members of Bezanson’s family. His wife Anne did the bookkeeping when they bought the store. His three sons are also involved in the company – Kevin is the president and also serves on the National Sporting Goods Association Board of Directors, Peter is a buyer and Gregory operates a cresting business on the team/institutional side.

1965 Inductee
Fred Bowman

The initiative and dedication to the best interests of the industry by FRED E. BOWMAN are probably best illustrated by his leadership and unstinting effort in the successful drive to reduce or eliminate excise taxes from most athletic goods products.  Former President and Chairman of the Board of Wilson Sporting Goods Company and Wilson Athletic Goods Manufacturing Co. Inc., he served the Wilson organization for more than 40 years.  He was Secretary-Treasurer of the Athletic Goods Manufacturers Association (1936-1949) and President of AGMA from 1949 to 1951. He served as an officer of the National Association of Golf Club Manufacturers (1941-1951). A member and director of the Athletic Institute from 1950 to 1960, he was on the Executive Finance Committee of the Institute from 1954 to 1960.  For a comparable period of 10 years, Mr. Bowman was Chairman of the Federal Agencies Committee representing the Athletic Goods Manufacturers Association, the Golf Ball Manufacturers Association and the National Association of Golf Club Manufacturers. He was also a director of the National Golf Foundation (1953-1960) and Chairman of the Executive Finance Committee of this group for the greater part of this period.  His work with the Golf Equipment Committee of the USGA established standards and accepted specifications for golf clubs and balls. As a member of the Federal Agencies Committee, he was instrumental in bringing about many benefits to the sporting goods industry. The present Census Report which has been of material benefit, was worked out with Mr. Bowman’s tremendous knowledge of the industry and its segments. Always interested in youth activities during his entire career, Mr. Bowman worked with the National High School Federation, Little League Baseball and many other sports promotional and rules-making organizations of importance to the sporting goods industry.

2003 Inductee
Gertrude Boyle

GERTRUDE BOYLE is the spirited matriarch and chairwoman of the board of the international outdoor apparel and footwear manufacturer Columbia Sportswear Company. Hailed by Working Woman magazine as one of “America’s Top 50 Women Business Owners,” Mrs. Boyle is the center of Columbia’s irreverent, award-winning advertising campaign. She protrays cantankerous “Mother Boyle,” the overbearing taskmaster who enforces Columbia’s demanding quality standards. This campaign earned Columbia the coveted Marketing innovation award at the 1997 Super Show, an international sporting goods and apparel trade show. Mrs. Boyle has been a part of Columbia Sportswear since her father founded Columbia Hat Company in 1938.  Throughout her teens, she helped with the family business.  She then attended the University of Arizona, and earned a degree in sociology in 1947.  While at college she met her future husband, Neal Boyle, whom she married in 1948. When Mrs. Boyle’s father died in 1964, Neal took over the helm of the growing company.  Just six years later, in 1970, at the age of 47, Neal Boyle died unexpectedly of a heart attack. He left three children, an expanding company leaning heavily on bank loans, and a wife whose previous experiences with finances was her monthly ritual of throwing all the bills across the living room and paying the one that flew the farthest. Mrs. Boyle soon discovered that running the family’s million-dollar sportswear company might be a little different. Two years later, the bankers decided it was time for Mrs. Boyle and her son Tim to sell the business. When she sat down with the perspective buyer and realized she would only make $1,400 off the sale, Mrs. Boyle told him, “For that kind of money, I’ll run the company into the ground myself”.  That was 31 years ago. Since Mrs. Boyle and Tim have been running the company, Columbia Sportswear Company has gone from bankruptcy to become one of the largest outerwear manufacturers and the leading seller of skiwear in the United States.  Columbia’s sales have soared from $12.9 million in 1984 to $615 million in 2000, and the company continues to forge ahead with product diversification and innovation.Throughout her career, Mrs. Boyle has been a leader in the Portland community. The areas’s deep respect for her was exemplified in 1997 when the prestigious University of Portland bestowed an honorary doctorate on the then 74-year-old grandmother of five.  Mrs. Boyle has received many other honors recognizing her business savvy and philanthropic endeavors.

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1956 Inductee
Frank Bradsby

FRANK WILLIAM BRADSBY was born in 1885. The family later moved from his birthplace, Lebanon, Illinois, to St. Louis. He attended elementary school and high school there. His business career began when he took the position of stock boy with the Simmons Hardware Company in St. Louis in 1894. He advanced to traveling salesman selling fishing tackle, then to selling guns and ammunition, and finally was put in charge of the sporting goods department. Simmons was at that time the largest hardware house in the world and handled by far the greatest volume of sporting goods. Mr. Bradsby’s next advance was in 1911, when he left Simmons to become sales manager at J.F. Hillerich & Son. Two years later he became Secretary and Treasurer of the firm. In 1916, the firm name became Hillerich & Bradsby Co. In the same year, the company expanded operations from making Louisville Slugger bats to the manufacture of golf clubs. Bradsby was in charge of sale and distribution of the new line. 
In the ensuing years, responsibilities to the industry grew as he took active part in forming and supporting various organizations. In 1928, he organized the National Association of Golf Club Manufacturers and served as its president for six consecutive terms. He also assisted in the formation of the Congress of Athletic and Sporting Goods Manufacturers and was elected to the presidency October 10, 1931, an office which he held until his death.
He was instrumental in the formation and growth of the Athletic Institute and was president and director when he died, in 1937. Death also interrupted his 19 consecutive terms as president of the Athletic Goods Manufacturers Association. His devotion to the affairs of the sporting goods industry was untiring. He made every effort to carry through causes which he considered beneficial not only to his own business but to the industry as a whole. His contribution was in having provided the leadership that is always needed in the competitive struggle of business, and at the same time supporting the finer aspects and moral values of the sports world.

1956 Inductee
John M. Browning

The groundwork for JOHN M. BROWNING’s accomplishments in firearms development was laid while he was still a boy. His father was a successful inventor and owner of a small repair shop in Ogden, Utah. John helped his father with gun repairs from the time he was 10, and before he was 20 he had made his first gun from the scrap he found around the shop. Mr. Browning acquired his first patent in 1879 when he was 24. The model became the famous Winchester Single Shot Rifle. About this time, John and his brother Matthew established the Browning Brothers Sporting Goods store in Ogden.  The store was the forerunner of today’s Browning Arms Company. Since the day of the first patent, John Browning developed and made available to sportsmen and the industry 21 distinct firearms models, including rifles, shotguns, and pistols. Many of these were the first of their type, and most were considered the best available.  The impact of Browning’s work in the sporting arms industry can be appreciated when one realizes that many present-day models are basically Browning designs. The discoveries he made were not restricted to his own company but were made available to the industry as a whole. As a result, the majority of his inventions have been manufactured by many companies.  He was born in 1855 and died in 1926. Upon his death, the Honorable Dwight F. Davis, Secretary of War at that time, paid tribute to Mr. Browning’s work in the development of automatic firearms, and attributed much of the army’s military efficiency to the excellence of his work.  Modern sportsmen enjoy the use of equally efficient firearms that pay tribute every day to the ability of John M. Browning. Perhaps he would enjoy this more than the compliments paid him by Mr. Davis, since his first love was the sport of shooting and hunting. Only in time of necessity did he turn his efforts to weapons of war.

1956 Inductee
Ole Evinrude

Though not a native of the United States, OLE EVINRUDE certainly contributed to the American way of living. Born in Norway in 1877, Ole arrived in America in 1880 with his family and grew up in Wisconsin. Though his education only went through the third grade, apprenticeships with Fairbanks-Morse and Fuller and Johnson, supplemented by many night courses in engineering and related subjects, prepared him for his career in motor mechanics.  Though many credit him with it, Mr. Evinrude did not invent the outboard motor. Such motors had been made in Europe and America, but had proved to be heavy, complicated, and generally impractical. They did not sell well, and few companies were willing to make them. Evinrude’s contribution was the refining and simplification of outboard motor design, making it practical, salable, and useful. This was the foundation of a major phase of the sporting goods industry.  In 1909 he entered the outboard motor manufacturing business, in partnership with Chris J. Meyers. The advertising slogan of the Evinrude Detachable Rowboat Motor Company was “Throw the Oars Away.” It opened a new era in water travel. After selling out to Meyers in 1914, he re-entered the industry in 1921 by incorporating the Elto Outboard Motor Company. The Elto was the first successful twin outboard.  Some 13 “firsts” in outboard motor construction and design are credited directly to him. They range from the first motor he built in 1909, which provided the basis for permanent standards in design and construction, to development of the first unit made especially for use in weedy, shallow water in 1931. He continued to be active in outboard engineering and production until his death in 1934.  Besides the obvious uses of the outboard motor in sports, its development contributed materially to the improvements of commercial fishing, lumbering, construction, and other industries where there is a need for economical boat power.

1956 Inductee
James Heddon

JAMES HEDDON was born on a farm in eastern New York in 1845. The family later moved to Michigan, first living in Keeler and settling in Dowagiac in 1860.  His father, Richard Heddon, had kept an apiary in Keeler, and the family continued in the bee business in Dowagiac. James came to be well known for his knowledge of apiculture, and his apiary at one time was among the largest honey producers in the United States. He also served for a time as president of the American Beekeepers Association. The Heddon bee strain was developed in the family apiary at Dowagiac. James Heddon took a prominent part in the affairs of Dowagiac, serving as mayor and encouraging the development of civic improvements such as waterworks and installation of an electric light system for the town. He purchased the Dowagiac Times in 1885 and published it until a few years before his death in 1911. The Democratic weekly kept up a lively interchange with the Dowagiac Republican, in good old-fashioned style.  Heddon’s active interest in the world around him carried over into sports and resulted in the development of the first topwater bait to be made commercially in the United States. He never stopped pioneering new ideas, and from his enterprise and inspiration came many important developments in the fishing lure business.  The company that now bears the name “James Heddon’s Sons” began as a local lure business in a single room in Dowagiac under Mr. Heddon’s direction. His sons continued to develop new ideas and gradually built the company to its present major position in the tackle industry. The company’s success may well be attributed to Mr. Heddon’s attitude toward his small business in its early days. He said, “Let’s don’t try to make the most tackle in the world, just the best.”

1956 Inductee
Albert Spalding

ALBERT GOODWILL SPALDING crowded many things into 65 years of life. He was born in Byron, Illinois, in 1850. In 1863 the family moved to Rockford, where he finished his schooling in a commercial college and got his first job in a grocery store. Spalding’s interest in baseball stemmed from his contacts with the Forest City Club of Rockford.

His skills as a pitcher got him many well-salaried offers from major ball clubs, but since he was only 17, his mother advised him to continue his business career. His efforts to stay in the business world and away from baseball earned him seven successive connections with firms that failed. Although he had nothing to do with the failures, he was mortified by the experience and returned to baseball.  The rest of his life and business was sports-related. From 1871 to 1875 he pitched for Boston, and during that time he toured England with two teams of picked ball players. In 1876 he went into business with his brother, J. W. Spalding, on a capital of $800.  By 1898 the company had gone into the wholesale business and was building a chain of retail stores. In 1900 the purchase of the Lamb Mfg. Company of Chicopee Falls, Mass. put Spalding in the manufacturing field. A.G. Spalding and Bros. was now established as a major sporting goods house, both making and retailing merchandise, in foreign counties as well as in the United States. The Spalding Company pioneered in the manufacturer of many sporting goods items that had formerly been imported.  Perhaps the highlight of Mr. Spalding’s activities in the sports world was the Grand World Tour. He made the tour with the Chicago baseball club and an All-American team made up of chosen members of National League teams, introducing America’s own game to 14 countries and five continents.  At the time of his death in 1915, A.G. Spalding was president of a company that was spoken of as “the most famous of its kind in the world, and the dominant factor in that business on the American continent.” He is remembered as a man who contributed immeasurably to the development of baseball on a legitimate business basis as well as a sport fair to both participants and spectators.

1957 Inductee
Samuel Colt

An enterprising spirit manifested itself early in SAMUEL COLT’S life. He was born in 1814 in Hartford, Conn., and attended school in Massachusetts. At 16, he left home and the neighboring farms where he had worked and went to sea. He was ship’s boy on the vessel Corlo, sailing from Boston for Calcutta. The by-products of the voyage proved to be a major factor in his later career. It was on board the Corlo that Samuel Colt got the idea for a revolving cylinder handgun. He watched the ship’s wheel and noticed that the spokes always returned in perfect alignment with a locking clutch that held the wheel in position. He whittled out a wooden working model and later developed a practical handgun from the principles of the model.  Col. Colt entered the manufacturing field in 1836, founding Colt’s Patent Firearms Company at a time when American-made guns were just coming into their own. Mass production methods reduced the cost of Colt firearms, making them available to the general public. This had its effect on 19th century history, particularly in the settling of the western United States.  Although much of Col. Colt’s work was done in the development of military weapons, which also left its mark on U.S. history, he is considered an outstanding contributor to the sport of handgun shooting and to the development of handguns as sporting equipment.  He died in 1862, leaving a tradition of progress which his company has continued in the firearms field.

1957 Inductee
Ivar Hennings

Untiring interest in the field of conservation marked the career of IVAR HENNINGS. Born in Sweden in 1883, he was brought to this country at the age of 10. He entered business after completing his grade school education and later came to be recognized as a leader in the improvement of natural resources, especially fish and wildlife.  His efforts in business were rewarded in 1911 when he assumed management of what was then the South Bend Bait Company, South Bend, Indiana. The company later became the South Bend Tackle Company, and at the time of Mr. Hennings’ death in 1950 was one of the largest in the tackle industry.  Ivar Hennings is most remembered for his work in organizing the tackle industry and promoting good fishing legislation and practices. He was instrumental in organizing the Sport Fishing Institute and the Associated Fishing Tackle Manufacturers, and was an active member of the AFTM until his death.  Governor Ralph Gates of Indiana appointed him to the Indiana State Conservation Commission in 1945. He also held an active membership in the Izaak Walton League from its inception, serving as state president. Through these associations, he was able to work for development of improved fish hatcheries, important pollution legislation, and restoration of vital marsh lands.  Mr. Hennings was also instrumental in legislation of the Dingell-Johnson Act, which diverted the excised tax on fishing tackle to the development of better fishing, benefiting the industry and the sport throughout the nation.  His lifetime interest was a devotion to the preservation of our natural resources for the future benefit of the youth of America.

1957 Inductee
L. B. Icely

Illinois-born L.B. ICELY was one of the country’s most influential and hardest-working sports organizers.  He was born near Leaf River, Ill., in 1884 and educated in Chicago. He entered the sporting goods industry as an assistant manager of the Chicago Division of Wright & Ditson Company in 1905, and by 1917 had advanced to general sales manager and secretary of the company.

Mr. Icely joined Wilson Sporting Goods Company in 1918 as president and continued in that office until his death in 1950.  To widen the market for sports equipment by encouraging greater participation, he originated and developed a progressive program of sports promotion. The program is being carried on by organizations such as the Athletic Institute and National Golf Foundation, which he helped found and direct. Many instructive youth sports programs and clinics in operation today were founded under his supervision.  The use of a sports advisory staff of outstanding athletes was inaugurated by Mr. Icely. It was his theory that such close association was of benefit to the company’s research and development divisions, as well as a great help to the stars themselves.  He strongly advocated continuing sports and athletic activities during World War II. He served as a member of the National Committee on Physical Fitness appointed by President Roosevelt in 1944 and was the only member of the sporting goods industry on that committee. He also helped sponsor ladies professional golf tournaments and the Ladies Professional Golf Association. In collaboration with the late Dr. William P. Jacobs, Mr. Icely originated a tennis clinic program which has developed into the present national program promoting tennis participation.

1957 Inductee
Eliphalet Remington II

The work of ELIPHALET REMINGTON II made a significant contribution to America’s 19th century history. He was born in 1793, to parents whose origins lay in Yorkshire, England. At 23, he hand-made a revolutionary sporting rifle.  The gun received such an enthusiastic response that Remington decided to manufacture it in quantity, and formed the firm of E. Remington & Sons, which he headed until his death in 1861. By the mid-1800s the gun had become immensely popular with American sportsmen and was one of the standard guns used in what has been called “the winning of the West.”

The company continued to grow and to develop its product and gradually began the manufacture of other sporting goods items, such as bicycles. At the present time, the company is known as the Remington Arms Co., Inc.  Through Mr. Remington’s craftsmanship in gun making and his initiative in commerce, what began as a one-man enterprise has become one of the world’s leading manufacturers of sporting arms. Before the Remington Company was formed, American sportsmen relied upon foreign sources for the majority of the sporting guns they used. The production of a rifle within the reach of men who wanted and needed a good gun changed the picture permanently.

1957 Inductee
John Riddell

JOHN T. RIDDELL was a native of Michigan, born in Georgetown in 1885.  He was an honor graduate at Bethany College in West Virginia, and did post-graduate work at Yale, Northwestern University, and the University of Chicago. His college work was aimed at preparing him for teaching and coaching, and he was quite successful at it, becoming athletic director and football coach at Evanston High School in 1913, where he remained until 1927.  It was this early interest in sports that led him to the development of the removable football cleat and later into manufacturing athletic shoes.  In February 1929, John T. Riddell, Inc. was formed. The company soon expanded into the manufacturing of other athletic supplies. In the mid-1930s, Mr. Riddell developed a molded leather basketball, with a process, which soon revolutionized that phase of the sporting goods industry.  Perhaps his most important contribution was the development of a helmet suspension and rigid shell just before World War II began. It was originally designed for use in football, but the government found the suspension was practical for use in steel helmets. Mr. Riddell relinquished his patent rights so that production could begin immediately, and the suspension was put to use in the war effort, protecting thousands of soldiers.  As soon as wartime need for the suspension was passed, Mr. Riddell resumed work on the helmet. Universal adoption of the principle was a significant advance in the elimination of head injuries in football.  Mr. Riddell’s contributions to the industry, particularly in the development and refinement of athletic equipment, have led to widespread growth and participation in sports. He died in 1945.

1958 Inductee
E. I. duPont de Nemours

ELEUTHERE IRENEE DU PONT DE NEMOURS gave this nation the first domestic gunpowder of quality just at the time it was vitally needed for the conquest of the West and for the national defense.  Mr. duPont was born June 24, 1771 in Paris, a member of a distinguished French family. He studied under the famed chemist, Antoine Lavoisier.  In 1802, he established the Eleutherian Mills on the Brandywine River, near Wilmington, Delaware, for the manufacture of black sporting and military gunpowder. This mill turned out high quality small-arms powder equal or superior to imported French powder, then the standard of excellence.  The value of duPont’s powder was recognized immediately. The mill prospered and, although duPont died on October 31, 1834, duPont powder has played a key role in American history since.  By freeing America from dependence on foreign factories for this nation’s powder, Mr. duPont contributed directly to our freedom and to the growth of this country and the development of sport shooting as a recreational activity.  The financial success of this first family mill led to the duPont family of member companies as it exists today.  The contributions of Eleuthere Irenee duPont de Nemours to our country and to gun sport make his election to the Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Fame a fitting honor.

1958 Inductee
Philip Goldsmith

PHILIP H. GOLDSMITH HAS served the sporting goods industry for many years, not only through his own company, a major manufacturer of athletic goods and equipment for sports, but also as an officer of the Athletic Goods Manufacturers Association.  In his own company, the MacGregor Company, Mr. Goldsmith rose from shipping clerk to president to chairman of the board. He was experienced in every phase of athletic goods manufacture and distribution.  During the ’30s Mr. Goldsmith served on the Compliance Committee of the National Recovery Act (NRA). During World War II he served on the Industry Committee of the War Production Board.  Among his official services of the athletic goods industry was his election on April 12, 1935 to the vice presidency of AGMA, one of the key organizations of the sporting goods industry.  On April 30, 1953 he completed 19 years as an officer of AGMA. He had served as secretary-treasurer three terms, as vice president 11 terms and as president five terms.
He helped lead the successful fight for removal of the excise tax from athletic equipment in the early 1950s.  Mr. Goldsmith’s services to the sporting goods industry transcend normal business activities and have earned for him the industry’s highest honor – election to the NSGA Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Fame.

1958 Inductee
C.H. "Chuck" Taylor

C.H. “Chuck” Taylor was born on June 24, 1901, in Brown County, Ind. He was a graduate of Columbus High School, where he starred in basketball and immediately following graduation started to play the game as a professional.
In 1912, he became interested in the development of a basketball shoe. Working with the development department of the Converse Rubber Company, he was able to produce a shoe that embodied features necessary for the comfort and performance of the player.  When this shoe became a reality, Mr. Taylor embarked on a plan of promotion, which resulted in millions of dollars’ worth of business to the sporting goods retailer. Mr. Taylor’s ambition was to build basketball players, coaches and spectator interest, and finally build business for the sporting goods retailer. He was dedicated to this ambition for 35 years and worked closely with retailers in staging basketball teaching clinics throughout the world, and he has conducted them in every major American city, Puerto Rico, Mexico, South America and Europe.  His consistent efforts have helped in the creation of larger gymnasiums and better athletic facilities. His work among boys and men in every age group has contributed in great measure not only to the growth of basketball but also to the physical and mental development of youth in many countries.

1958 Inductee
William Voit

WILLIAM J. VOIT was born November 6, 1881 at Worthington, Indiana. Mr. Voit developed and patented the first full-molded, all-rubber, inflatable ball in the late 1920s. Shortly thereafter, he developed and patented one of the first needle-type air retention valves. The next step was the making of the sporting goods industry’s first all-rubber athletic balls (footballs first, then basketballs) in 1931. Though these first balls did not approach the high quality of today’s product, they began the revolution in the making of inflated athletic balls. They were immediately accepted by school purchasing people for their performance.

Mr. Voit’s ideas, patents and products revolutionized institutional equipment, made possible greatly increased athletic and recreation activity in the school systems by economies inherent in the type of products, and led to universal use of a “new type” product which now dominates sales in its field. Further, this “new type” of athletic balls helped to increase participation in active sports by youngsters in backyards, vacant lots and streets, by providing high-quality, lasting, sports equipment which performed to official standards and yet sold at low prices. Thus, everyone could now afford balls that “performed right,” a standard once limited principally to high-priced team equipment.  Mr. Voit’s business philosophy was one of deliberately avoiding the production of any item simply because it might be popular, and therefore profitable, if someone else was already making it. Instead, his products had to involve some new idea and be designed to do a new job, fill a new need, or do some old jobs better or more economically. This philosophy resulted in a continuing flow of innovations useful to the athletic world.

1959 Inductee
W.C. Coleman

One of the modern pioneers of America, WILLIAM COFFIN COLEMAN’s company has made outstanding development in hunting, fishing and camping equipment and produced major contributions to the pleasures of outdoor living. Born of pioneer New England stock, whose ancestors include eight generations of Quakers, William Coleman came to La Bette County, Kansas, with his family, by train and covered wagon, in 1870. That was rugged country in those days. His first ambition was to become a teacher, so he attended State Teachers College at Emporia, Kansas. Later he decided on law, which was the turning point of his life.  To pay his way through law school, he worked as a typewriter salesman. While selling, he became interested in a gasoline lamp and bought out the company that manufactured it. Thirteen years later, in 1914, his company introduced the famous Coleman gasoline lantern, which opened up brand new vistas in the sporting goods field.  Some of the “firsts” produced by the Coleman Company include the camp stove in 1921; an instant lighting device for gasoline pressure appliances in 1929; and during World War II, the famous G.I. pocket stove, used gratefully by more than a million servicemen during that conflict.  Until his death in 1957, William Coleman worked energetically to maintain his company’s high standards of manufacture and to continuously bring forth new products to add to the increasing enjoyment of Americans everywhere in outdoor living. In so doing, he contributed largely to the sporting goods industry.

1959 Inductee
Harrison Harwood

HARRISON HARWOOD broke new ground in baseball construction and manufacturing. In 1833, when our national sport was still in its infancy, Harrison Harwood, a 19-year-old, developed a love and continuing interest in baseball that never wavered. He may have known that baseball had all the elements to capture the imagination and hold the enthusiasm of a sports-minded nation.  In 1858 he formed a partnership with his three sons and thus was born the first plant in the world for the manufacturer of baseballs. Until that time there was no standardization at all of baseballs. They were fashioned from any material that was handy and sized by guesswork.  Under his direction, H. Harwood and Sons conceived the idea of winding the yarn around a center core under tension, and his company invented the first winding machine for this purpose. To provide uniformity in baseballs, they designed the figure eight pattern still used today. Later they became the first and only company to manufacture the double-cover baseball.  By 1875 the Harwood Baseball was the official baseball, and it was being manufactured in exactly the same size and weight as the official league baseball of today. In designing and building a superior baseball, Harrison Harwood had laid the foundation upon which a great segment of the sporting goods industry is built, and for this he has been elected to the Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Fame.

1959 Inductee
John Hillerich

Known throughout the sporting goods industry as “Bud,” J.A. HILLERICH created one of baseball’s most famous trade names – the “Louisville Slugger” bat. He was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky. Soon after completing grade school, he started as an apprentice in his father’s woodturning shop.  Mr. Hillerich was a lover of baseball from his boyhood. He played on local semi-professional teams and was a star hitter himself. When he was 17, in 1884, he turned out the first Louisville “Slugger” bat. At the time, his father could see little future in baseball or baseball bats.

So Bud took it upon himself to develop and sell the bat that was to find high favor with professional baseball teams because of its design and high quality. Almost single-handedly, he guided the bat end of the business for 20 years, until 1911. During that time, the effectiveness of his efforts and his enthusiasm convinced his father that a great future for the company lay in the manufacture of baseball bats.  He became his father’s partner in 1899 and president of the company when his father retired in 1911. Two years later, the name of the firm was changed to Hillerich and Bradsby when Frank Bradsby became secretary.  To Bud Hillerich alone goes the credit for creating one of the most familiar products known to the American sporting goods industry – the “Louisville Slugger.” But he has made another outstanding contribution – 60 years of fine example. The integrity of his product and his policy has served as a model to follow and a standard to meet.

1959 Inductee
William Shakespeare, Jr.

An ardent fisherman throughout his life, WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE’s love for the sport led to his becoming the first to patent and manufacture the levelwind reel, a development that helped make plug casting a national sport. When he was a young man he – as well as a number of people in other parts of the country – was trying to develop a fishing reel that could be used for sport fishing, which at that time was unknown. He wanted to make fishing easier and more enjoyable for more people. He turned out his first reel on a jeweler’s lathe and developed a device for winding the line evenly back on the spool without using the fingers to distribute the line.

In 1896, at the age of 27, he was granted the first patent on a levelwind reel. In the following year he opened his own factory to manufacture reels that have long since become world famous.  Later, William Shakespeare perfected a light, accurately applied brake, which acted upon the spool to prevent “backlash.” With this important innovation, Shakespeare’s levelwind reel became trade-names the “Wondereel.”  Because William Shakespeare, through determined and successful efforts to invent a levelwind reel, created a new industry, we are proud indeed to elect him to the NSGA Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Fame.

1960 Inductee
Harry Gill

Born in Ontario, Canada, in 1876, HARRY LOVERING GILL moved to New York City in 1900. There he joined the Knickerbocker Athletic Club, and although he was unknown as an athlete, he won the world’s all-around championship in track and field. He began his track-coaching career in 1902 at Beloit College and moved to the University of Illinois in 1904. He stayed with Illinois for 30 years, and his Illini team won 18 championships. 
Always interested in improving equipment then available, in 1920 he developed the first accepted American-made javelin. At that time there was no track and field equipment manufactured commercially in the United States.

During the next 15 years, Harry Gill developed a weight-testing device for bamboo vaulting poles, a discus centering centrifugal force on the outside rim, the first heavy base vaulting standards, the first aluminum vaulting pole and, with the late John Nicholson, track coach at Notre Dame, developed commercially the first starting blocks. In 1937 he formed the Harry Gill Company. He built and patented the L-type rocker hurdle. Later he developed a vaulting pole of aluminum and brass with which many records were established.  Over a 35-year period, Harry Gill developed and manufactured track and field equipment, which became the accepted standard in high school and collegiate competition, opening a sizable new field in equipment for the sporting goods industry.
Before his death in 1956, Mr. Gill had seen his products in use around the world.

1960 Inductee
Christian Lund

CHRISTIAN A. LUND, founder and president of the Northland Ski Company and the C.A. Lund Company, was born in Norway in 1880. At the time of his election, Mr. Lund was still active in business and in the direction of his companies. After coming to the United States, he founded the Northland Ski Company in 1911. The years since have been spent in the development of skiing and ice hockey in this country. His introduction of plastic ski bottoms and metal-edged skis, along with improvements and perfected techniques of hickory laminations, boosted his company to its eventual eminence as the world’s largest ski manufacturer. Mr. Lund was named to the selection committee of the U.S. Olympic Ski Team, which competed in the first Winter Olympics in 1924, and he outfitted this team at his own expense. He has outfitted many polar expeditions, including those of Admiral Byrd.  Just prior to World War II, he was adviser to the U. S. Army officers at Fort Snelling, Minnesota, on winter warfare skiing techniques, and he translated Norwegian Army rules and regulations for winter maneuvers into English. Working quietly and steadily, Mr. Lund has made many progressive contributions to the advancement of the ski industry. In so doing, he created a new and important segment of the sporting goods industry.

1960 Inductee
Ernest Pflueger

ERNEST ANDREW PFLUEGER did not create a new business, but followed in the footsteps of his father. Mr. Pflueger was born in 1866. He became president of the Enterprise Manufacturing Company in 1913 and directed the operation of the company until his death in 1944. Early in his 62-year business career, Mr. Pflueger realized that not only fishing tackle, but also the entire sporting goods industry was essentially dependent on our natural resources, which were then being rapidly depleted. His devotion to the cause of conservation, curing the pollution of lakes and streams, and the re-stocking of barren fishing waters constitute perhaps his greatest contribution to our industry. Mr. Pflueger was president of the Association of Fishing Tackle Manufacturers America from 1918 through 1933. He worked closely with the Congress on tariff affairs to protect American manufacturers, making possible the first manufacture of fishhooks in the country.  Often referred to as the Dean of the Fishing Tackle Industry, he helped develop, manufacture and market throughout the world the famous Pflueger line of tackle.

1961 Inductee
Chuck Cramer

By making it possible for coaches and trainers to purchase training supplies through sporting goods retailers, CHARLES (Chuck) and FRANK CRAMER developed a new branch of the sporting goods industry, which added millions of dollars to the sporting goods business. The Cramer story actually began in 1912 when Chuck, then a student at the University of Kansas, sprained his ankle while practicing pole vaulting and was ordered home. While sitting around with another pharmacy student, Cramer decided they could mix a liniment that would help the ankle. The mixture worked so well that Chuck was able to compete and win this pole vault event the following weekend.  Six years later, while working in a drug store, Chuck remembered his liniment and wondered if there was a market for it. He made a batch and approached the athletic people in his area. Quite a few coaches and trainers tried it, and all become enthusiastic about it.  The liniment became a good seller, and Chuck began sending quantities of it to Frank, who was selling building materials in Detroit. It sold well in the East, too, and a business was born. The company was incorporated in 1922, with Frank staying in Detroit to handle Eastern sales. In 1928, at the suggestion of Charlie Bachman, football coach at Kansas State College, Chuck visited Knute Rockne, famed head football coach at Notre Dame. Rockne tested the material and became a big supporter of the Cramers.
In addition to their starting a whole new branch of the sporting goods industry, the Cramers, and their company have performed many continuing services for their industry, including such activities as their “Student Training Course” and “First Aider,” which educated the athletic world to better care of and treatment for athletes.
Three Cramer books are used as basic texts for courses in athletic training in more than 680 colleges and universities. In 1950 Chuck and Frank organized the National Athletic Trainers Association, and for four years they underwrote the expenses of this group, which now has more than 800 members. Dating back to 1936 Frank was a member of the committee for the selection of trainers for the Olympic Games and the Pan-American Games.
Of all their accomplishments, Chuck and Frank are most proud of their participation in the National Sporting Goods Association. Chuck attended the organizational meeting in St. Louis in 1929, and at least one of the brothers has been at every annual meeting since. They have supported the Association year after year and have been wise counselors to many young firms starting in business.

1961 Inductee
Frank Cramer

By making it possible for coaches and trainers to purchase training supplies through sporting goods retailers, FRANK and CHARLES (Chuck) CRAMER developed a new branch of the sporting goods industry, which added millions of dollars to the sporting goods business.  The Cramer story actually began in 1912 when Chuck, then a student at the University of Kansas, sprained his ankle while practicing pole vaulting and was ordered home. While sitting around with another pharmacy student, Cramer decided they could mix a liniment that would help the ankle. The mixture worked so well that Chuck was able to compete and win this pole vault event the following weekend.

Six years later, while working in a drug store, Chuck remembered his liniment and wondered if there was a market for it. He made a batch and approached the athletic people in his area. Quite a few coaches and trainers tried it, and all become enthusiastic about it.  The liniment became a good seller, and Chuck began sending quantities of it to Frank, who was selling building materials in Detroit. It sold well in the East, too, and a business was born. The company was incorporated in 1922, with Frank staying in Detroit to handle Eastern sales.  In 1928, at the suggestion of Charlie Bachman, football coach at Kansas State College, Chuck visited Knute Rockne, famed head football coach at Notre Dame. Rockne tested the material and became a big supporter of the Cramers.  In addition to their starting a whole new branch of the sporting goods industry, the Cramers, and their company have performed many continuing services for their industry, including such activities as their “Student Training Course” and “First Aider,” which educated the athletic world to better care of and treatment for athletes.  Three Cramer books are used as basic texts for courses in athletic training in more than 680 colleges and universities. In 1950 Chuck and Frank organized the National Athletic Trainers Association, and for four years they underwrote the expenses of this group, which now has more than 800 members. Dating back to 1936 Frank was a member of the committee for the selection of trainers for the Olympic Games and the Pan-American Games.  Of all their accomplishments, Chuck and Frank are most proud of their participation in the National Sporting Goods Association. Chuck attended the organizational meeting in St. Louis in 1929, and at least one of the brothers has been at every annual meeting since. They have supported the Association year after year and have been wise counselors to many young firms starting in business.

1962 Inductee
Herbert Lagerblade

The steel shaft golf club was invented in 1910 by Arthur F. Knight, a General Electric engineer. In 1920, after 10 years of unsuccessful efforts to manufacture the item, he sold his patent to the Horton Manufacturing Company.
The Treadway family at the Horton Company knew HERBERT LAGERBLADE and agreed that he would be able to help in promoting the new shaft, so he joined the Horton firm in 1920. A year later the shaft was put on the market. All went well for a while, until the United States Golf Association (USGA) and the Royal and Ancient Association in England barred the shaft from championship competition in 1923. Then began the struggle to get the ban lifted, a ban imposed out of fear that the shaft would be a mechanical aid. Mr. Lagerblade arranged for a test of the shaft with the Western Golf Association, which gave its approval after seeing it in action at the Edgewater Golf Club in Chicago. Later, the Canadian Golf Association gave its approval. The following year, the USGA withdrew the ban. Then there was only one golf body withholding approval of the shaft. Lagerblade went to Europe to submit samples to the Royal and Ancient Golf Association of St. Andrews. With the aid of one of the leading steel tube producers of Great Britain, he soon succeeded in getting the steel shaft sanctioned, giving it worldwide approval.  The uniformity made possible by the steel shaft led Herbert Lagerblade to the idea of the matched set of golf clubs, the first of many refinements he introduced.

1963 Inductee
Hugo Goldsmith

HUGO GOLDSMITH played a key part in the success of the MacGregor Company. He took an active part in the development of the P. Goldsmith & Sons Co., which later became MacGregor and later, Brunswick Sports.
Born in 1877, he graduated at 17 from the Ohio Mechanical Institute in Cincinnati. In 1898 he joined his brothers in the Goldsmith organization. Later, he became a full partner, and when the business was incorporated in 1922, he was elected vice-president. He became president in 1937, chairman of the board in 1952, and retired in 1953. He died in 1959 following a lengthy illness.  His contributions to the industry were many and included the development of the laceless basketball, the cantilever shoulder pad for football, the Viking football helmet, and the introduction of lightweight football equipment, adopted by the industry and still used today.  In the early 1900s, he was a strong force in giving stability to the sporting goods industry, through decisions on sales policy and participation in an industry-wide program for the benefit of all manufacturers.  Mr. Goldsmith was a pioneer in the promotion of recreation in industry plants. He was instrumental in establishing the National Industrial Recreation Association and was active in the organization.  A year before his retirement, he was awarded the Purdue University Industrial Recreation Citation.  

1964 Inductee
Robert Pletz

The contributions of the 1964 Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Fame award winner to the sporting goods industry over a period of 33 years of active association are widely recognized. They cover almost every facet of the industry. In the field of manufacturer-dealer relations, the efforts of the winner have been particularly noteworthy. It was S. ROBERT PLETZ who, in 1949, first introduced the Fair Trade Policy at the NSGA Show in Atlantic City. Through this move, the entire industry benefited materially as proper profit margins were for the first time assured to the sporting goods retailer. The stabilizing effect of this act upon both retailer and manufacturer set the stage for the greatest period of growth and prosperity that this industry has even know. Throughout his career, he has been a vital force in promoting close cooperation between manufacturer and retailer. His unselfish and untiring efforts to build better business for the sporting goods dealer long have been acknowledged by the trade. He has served 18 years as a director of the Athletic Institute, and 10 years on the Executive Finance Committee of the Institute.  In athletic footwear, the winner of this award, a devotee of and expert at hunting and fishing, has been a guiding force. His ideas on the styling and comfort of outdoor footwear are incorporated today in much of the sports footwear manufactured by his firm.  The winner of the 1964 Hall of Fame Award is S. Robert Pletz of the Converse Rubber Company. Working closely with another Converse leader, Chuck Taylor, and other basketball pioneers, he correlated the famous Chuck Taylor program of educational promotion with Converse sales procedures, thus giving practical dollars and cents vitality to a great educational crusade on behalf of the game of basketball.  Robert Pletz has written a seldom-paralleled chapter in the history of America’s sporting goods industry. He, quietly and without fanfare, has affected changes for the better throughout the industry. Beyond duty, his conduct as a gentleman, concern for his follow man, his generous giving of himself to the welfare of the industry, combine to distinguish Bob Pletz as a most worthy and illustrious addition to the Hall of Fame.  

1965 Inductee
Fred Bowman

The initiative and dedication to the best interests of the industry by FRED E. BOWMAN are probably best illustrated by his leadership and unstinting effort in the successful drive to reduce or eliminate excise taxes from most athletic goods products.  Former President and Chairman of the Board of Wilson Sporting Goods Company and Wilson Athletic Goods Manufacturing Co. Inc., he served the Wilson organization for more than 40 years.  He was Secretary-Treasurer of the Athletic Goods Manufacturers Association (1936-1949) and President of AGMA from 1949 to 1951. He served as an officer of the National Association of Golf Club Manufacturers (1941-1951). A member and director of the Athletic Institute from 1950 to 1960, he was on the Executive Finance Committee of the Institute from 1954 to 1960.  For a comparable period of 10 years, Mr. Bowman was Chairman of the Federal Agencies Committee representing the Athletic Goods Manufacturers Association, the Golf Ball Manufacturers Association and the National Association of Golf Club Manufacturers. He was also a director of the National Golf Foundation (1953-1960) and Chairman of the Executive Finance Committee of this group for the greater part of this period.  His work with the Golf Equipment Committee of the USGA established standards and accepted specifications for golf clubs and balls. As a member of the Federal Agencies Committee, he was instrumental in bringing about many benefits to the sporting goods industry. The present Census Report which has been of material benefit, was worked out with Mr. Bowman’s tremendous knowledge of the industry and its segments. Always interested in youth activities during his entire career, Mr. Bowman worked with the National High School Federation, Little League Baseball and many other sports promotional and rules-making organizations of importance to the sporting goods industry.

1965 Inductee
Howard Head

HOWARD HEAD’S contribution to sports is the metal recreational and racing ski, the most popular type by far for serious skiers throughout the world. With the exception of several companies engaged in the manufacture of wood, fiberglass and epoxy resin skis, the rest of the world has followed Head’s lead and gone heavily for the metal ski.  During the early 1950s, Mr. Head fought to win skiers’ allegiance over to metal skis. There had been earlier attempts, all unsuccessful, to make metal skis, and Head had to overcome the resistance and prejudice built up against them, at the same time establishing a new tradition of durability, excellence of performance and unparalleled factory warranties and service.  Howard Head instituted a development program to create the world’s finest racing ski as a complement to the world’s most popular recreational ski. The advanced engineering techniques that put Head in the forefront earlier served to accelerate the competition ski research program. By 1961, a workable ski was in production and gained limited acceptance among professional and amateur racers. At the Winter Olympic Games at Innsbruck, Austria, 25 of the world’s 150 top Alpine racers used Heads in at least one event.  Head served as chairman of a subcommittee for a national ski manufacturers association, which raised and contributed more than $58,000 in funds and equipment to send America’s greatest Alpine ski team to the Olympics. Howard Head began peddling his skis in a station wagon, selling to anyone who’d take them. Today, there are over 1,100 authorized outlets in America alone and 2,500 more clamoring for a franchised dealership. But to this day he gets letters of thanks from individuals, thanking him for the skis he built for them.  

1965 Inductee
Webster Lansing Marble

WEBSTER LANSING MARBLE devoted his entire life to the development of improved outdoors equipment, and the entire industry as well as countless thousands of American sportsmen have benefited from his important inventions. Born in 1854, he established his company and invented basic camping items that are still in use today.
An accomplished woodsman, he was always inventing some gadget to make life safer and more comfortable in the woods. Between trips in the woods he would work in his little shop making useable articles. There he would test them out on his next hunting, fishing or cruising trip. He never liked to wear a belt to carry an axe, as a belt is dangerous when crawling under or jumping off a log or windfall. He once found the skeleton of a man hanging on a short limb of a high stub, so the Folding Pocket Axe was developed. Mr. Marble developed what is known throughout the world as “The Basic Four” – the pocket safety axe, the waterproof matchbox, the pin-on compass, and his high-quality hunting knife. He devoted his entire life to developing products of such excellence and superior design that they are still considered basic necessities for outdoor sportsmen. The ingenuity and inventiveness of this industry pioneer produced several basic products that are still recognized by all sportsmen today.

1966 Inductee
Fred Bear

FRED BEAR is directly responsible for development of design and manufacturing processes used by all present-day manufacturers of high quality archery bows. He was the first to make possible mass production of bows and arrows and holds several patents relating to the manufacture of archery equipment.  Born in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, Mr. Bear started the Bear Products Company in 1933. In 1946 the company was incorporated and re-named Bear Archery Company, with Fred Bear as President. That same year the plant was moved from Detroit to Grayling, Michigan, where it continues to flourish.  Bowhunting is a recognized sport today largely as a result of Fred Bear’s legislative efforts by personal appearances before state commissions and committees and his continuing attention since 1927. Favorable action was based to a great degree on his personal bowhunting success and his dedication to the principle that hunting with a bow has a definite place in sound conservation policy.  Before 1935, bowhunting was not recognized by any state. When a ban was placed on the discharge of firearms in the vicinity of the Lumberman’s Monument in Tawas, Michigan, Fred Bear and fellow bowmen hunted in this area. Following his successful experiment, Bear helped present the case for legislative approval, with the result that two Michigan counties were opened to bowhunting in 1937. Today’s recognition of bowhunting by Conservation Departments and Game and Fish Commissions of many states is a result of Bear’s appearances, correspondence and devotion.  Fred Bear, at his own expense, undertook the task of popularizing bowhunting, utilizing photography. He is the author of 14 films having international distribution to both private and television audiences. The films are on bowhunting for big game; also on archery instruction and manufacturing processes. They are without advertising of any kind, carrying only the legend, “Presented in the Interest of Good Hunting by the Bear Archery Company.” The archery industry admittedly rose to its present multi-million dollar position because of bowhunting. The success of the industry can rightly be attributed to the pioneering efforts and the continuing attention it has received from Fred Bear. 

1967 Inductee
Arthur Savage

ARTHUR W. SAVAGE is best known to sportsmen as the founder of a company that is today one of the world’s largest manufacturers of a diversified line of sporting firearms. He invented and patented in 1893 a revolutionary hammerless, lever action, big-game rifle. Well over a million rifles have been built to his basic design and it is still going strong.  The Savage 99 – as it is now known – was one of the first sporting rifles designed for use with smokeless powder. This is not surprising, since Arthur Savage was a pioneer in promoting the potential of smokeless powder in sporting rifles chambered for relatively small caliber bullets propelled at high velocity.  Arthur Savage was a sportsman, world traveler and mechanical genius with many inventions to his credit. The most enduring of these is the rifle that harnessed smokeless powder for sporting rather than military use.  

1968 Inductee
Arthur Benson

Born in October 1896, ARTHUR R. BENSON is a pioneer figure in the fishing tackle industry and was instrumental in founding the American Fishing Tackle Manufacturers Association and the Sport Fishing Institute. Long dedicated to the cause of fish conservation and to the growth of sport fishing, Mr. Benson entered the fishing tackle industry in 1920 when he founded the W.W. Mildrum Jewel Company, now the Mildrum Manufacturing Company, of East Berline, Connecticut.  Mr. Benson was instrumental in joining the Eastern and Western Tackle Associations into the American Fishing Tackle Manufacturers Association 36 years ago.

From 1936 through 1953, Mr. Benson served as president of the American Fishing Tackle Manufacturers Association and devoted himself to the promotion and growth of the industry and the sport of fishing.  Mr. Benson also served as president of the Sport Fishing Institute during the first 10 years of its existence from 1949 to 1959. He dedicated himself to the aims of the Sport Fishing Institute in efforts to fight pollution and promote fish conservation and fishing areas.  Mr. Benson is a member of the Izaak Walton League of America and a director of the Wildlife Management Institute. Through his efforts and years of selfless service, Mr. Benson has insured a bright future for the sport fishing industry.  

1968 Inductee
Milton Reach

MILTON B. REACH was born in Washington, D.C. in 1878 and graduated from Asheville, N.C. high school. In 1915 he married Edith Royce of Springfield, Massachusetts. His career in the sporting goods industry began some time prior to 1895 with a brief association with the A. J. Reach Company in Philadelphia. Shortly thereafter he moved to Chicopee, Massachusetts, to join the Lamb Manufacturing Company. In 1895, also in Chicopee, he became connected with A.G. Spalding & Bros., working with that firm until 1944, when he retired.  He continued to work as a developer of sporting goods items until a short time before his death. He was a force in the sporting goods field for 65 years. Some of his developments are still widely utilized.  With Spalding, his constant flow of ideas for better sporting goods equipment quickly brought him to the attention of his superiors and he rose to department head, and in 1914 to general manager of the Chicopee factory. In 1926 he was named company vice-president. Author of nearly 100 patents, innovator of countless other improvements in product and manufacture, Mr. Reach combined the creative inventiveness of the artist with the practical know-how of the production executive.   His most notable inventions were the cushion cork center baseball, which was adopted by the major leagues around 1927, and the molded, stitchless basketball, which replaced the stitched panel, bladder inflated ball in the late 1930s. Mr. Reach was not only a prolific inventor himself but consistently nurtured and supported an atmosphere for creativity and constant improvement at the Chicopee factory. No list of the Chicopee attainments is available but among the contributions during the period under consideration were: Numbered golf irons, registered irons, cushion-neck irons, flange-sealed irons, constant improvements in golf and tennis balls, the Top-Flite and Kro-Bat racquets, synthetic shuttlecocks, synthetic softball centers, and concave golf woods. It is safe to say that no company enjoyed a superior reputation for equipment during this era. 

1969 Inductee
Ray Dodge

RAY E. DODGE is founder and president of Dodge, Inc., manufacturer of trophies. Dodge was responsible for the first mass production of trophies, awards and medals. In 1927 he was the only trophy manufacturer selling to the sporting goods trade, pioneering in this area.  At the time Dodge initiated this market, trophies had been sold mostly through jewelry stores, with most figures being imported. Introduction of low-cost trophies led to the development of more than 1,000 sports figures used on trophies at less than half the cost of 1930 prevailing prices.  

1970 Inductee
Vernon McMillan

VERNON R. McMILLAN, McMillan Sports, Inc., Terre Haute, Indiana, devoted his life to sports and the betterment of the sporting goods industry. He originated the NSGA slogan, “It pays to play,” worked on the NRA code administration, and in 1948 was honored by NSGA for his outstanding promotion of sports.  He also developed a T-shirt for use under shoulder pads, an inflator for inflatable balls, a face guard, a javelin hanger, a non-metallic athletic belt (for safety during play), color size markings on athletic socks, and a featherweight kicking toe for football shoes. Vernon McMillan pioneered the use of the cage football facemask. This became such a big part of McMillan Sports’ operation it was necessary to build a separate manufacturing plant in Litchfield, Illinois.

1971 Inductee
John Sand

JOHN A. SAND, JR. gained his experience previous to starting his own business in his father’s knitting mill. After three years of making sweaters, Sand entered the athletic clothing industry under the trademark Sand-Knit, and continued as president of the firm until 1963. In 1961, he sold his business to Medalist Industries and continued as a consultant.  Among his more renowned innovations are: the UCLA insert in football jerseys; the V-neck football jersey; no-fly football and baseball pants; the boxer-style basketball pants which comprise over 75 percent of all basketball pants today; the 2 x 2 ribbed-knit waistband which not only allowed for greater stretch but enabled the waistband to have knit stripes.  Some of Sand’s technical innovations include: development and use of ribbed-knit cloth in athletic uniforms. Ribbed-knit cloth allows for stretch without the use of stretch yarns. Sand developed the first two-way stretch football pant by knitting first rubber and rayon together and then rubber and nylon. Stretch cloth allows for a better-fitting football pant not only for greater freedom of movement, but also for added safety in holding the pads in the proper position.  John Sand was the first to successfully use stretch nylon in athletic uniforms. He disclosed this method to other athletic clothing manufacturers in order to promote the use of his yarn so he could realize its great potential. Today, more stretch nylon is used in athletic uniforms than any other yarn.  Working with several suppliers, Sand helped develop and was the first to use covered Spandex in athletic uniforms. Covered Spandex provides a controlled amount of stretch nylon football pant. This type of pant is now used by well over 50 percent of all high schools and colleges in the country.  Besides his specific contributions, John Sand’s imaginative designs, his bold use of stripes and colors, and his daring to experiment have had a profound influence on the entire athletic uniform industry.  

1972 Inductee
Harry Latina

HARRY LATINA, dubbed the “Glove Doctor,” helped three generations of kids and professionals play better ball. Credited with designing a pocket into a glove and creating the trapper first baseman’s mitt, Latina has made his design genius known to such men as Phil Rizzuto, Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle, Red Schoendienst, Whitey Lockman and Jackie Robinson.
Latina got his nickname from New York Yankees legend and Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio. At the 1946 spring training camp in Florida, Latina was adjusting gloves for Charlie Keller and DiMaggio. DiMaggio got a stool from the locker room, handed his glove and asked him to “do your medicine and fix my glove.” Born in 1895, Latina played professional baseball from 1915 to 1921. In 1922, he joined Rawlings and soon developed and patented the “trap lace” glove. Credited with introducing the little finger and thumb loops on catchers’ mitts and the three-finger fielders’ gloves, Latina redesigned the catcher’s mitt in 1934 with the little finger and the third finger in the same stall. This is intended to give more effective use of the little finger loop. In 1940, he introduced the “deep well” pocket and the patented trapper mitt. Latina, who retired in 1960 but served as a Rawlings’ consultant until 1965, at one time toured the baseball spring training camps with on-the-spot service for athletic leather goods. His personal involvement in baseball endeared him to the professionals who use his gloves and mitts.  

1973 Inductee
Gerald Cunningham

GERRY CUNNINGHAM, who heads the Gerry Division of Outdoor Sports Industries, became aware of the need for sophisticated backpacking equipment while serving in the Army’s Tenth Mountain Division. He designed his first pack in 1938, the Gerry Climbing Pack, which is still being manufactured.  In 1964, Cunningham started the Gerry Mountaineering Equipment Co. Soon the company had expanded to a 6,000-square-foot building built on three acres of land. The company became part of Outdoor Sports Industries in 1966. Besides many design accomplishments, Cunningham has authored several publications on camping procedures and tips.

1974 Inductee
Herbert Jenks

HERBERT R. JENKS, sporting goods executive and innovator for more than a quarter of a century, gained acclaim for inventions of the graphite golf club shaft and the Dura-Fiber ski. For years he had been involved with the research and development of new sporting goods products.  In 1948, Jenks developed for his own company, Pacific Laminates (Sila-Flex), Costa Mesa, California, the first tubular fiberglass fishing rod.  Since then he developed the first fiberglass vaulting pole and was involved in the design and/or manufacture of every fiberglass vaulting pole used to set a world track and field record. In 1967, Jenks became a partner in a new company, Dura-Fiber Inc., Carson City, Nevada. While there he has developed the “Cata-Pole” fiberglass vaulting pole and originated another brand name, “The Sky Pole.” Jenks also currently is serving as a director with AMF Reinforced Plastics. He is working with AMF Head Ski Corporation on the development of the XR-1 fiberglass ski and fiberglass tennis racket.  Born in Muskegon, Michigan, Jenks attended elementary and high school in DeKalb, Illinois. He graduated from Northern Illinois University in chemistry.  Jenks began his business career with the U.S. Rubber Co. in 1942. From there he moved to the Convair Co., San Diego, California, where he dealt with process engineering.  After a three-year stint with Narmco Inc. as general manager, Jenks became a partner and general manager with Pacific Laminates in 1947. Thus began his romance with the sporting goods industry. His stay with Pacific Laminates ended in 1960.  

1975 Inductee
R. D. Hull

R.D. HULL’s invention and development of the spincast fishing reel revolutionized the sport. When Hull was first learning to fish as a youngster in a small Texas town he had trouble. But so did veteran fisherman, who spent more time unsnarling backlashes than fishing. Having his younger brother take the plug and run around to the other side of a small pond and drop it in was one temporary solution. But it worked only until his younger brother wised up.
As a watchmaker in the late 1940s, Hull continued to relax by fishing. And he continued to suffer a backlash with existing reels. How he adapted a grocery boy’s fixed spool of string into a workable spinning reel is a classic and the spark of today’s spincast fishing reel.  Hull had been in a supermarket and happened to watch a packing boy peeling cord off the end of a fixed spool. He suddenly had a thought: fishermen got backlashes because the line was attached to a drum. When the drum revolved faster than the line was playing out, the line snared. Attached to a fixed spool, backlash would be impossible.
 Hull developed 15 models in more than two years, each getting smaller and all uncovered. Finally he utilized the cover to prevent the line from tumbling off the spool.  The Texas watchmaker decided to sell his invention. He quit his job, piled his family into their car and took off. When he pulled up in front of the Zero Hour Bomb Co. in Tulsa, Oklahoma, little did he know that his invention eventually would propel the Tulsa company into an industry giant, better known as Zebco Industries. In the 26 years Hull has worked for Zebco, a division of Brunswick Corp. since 1962, he has introduced 26 models of his reel. Currently 16 are in full production with two more in the prototype stage. Zebco has grown from a tiny Tulsa manufacturer to a company making more than 30,000 reels daily.

1976 Inductee
Joshua Stevens

JOSHUA J. STEVENS, the man who made shooting sports history and was generally regarded as “Father of .22 Hunting,” was born in Chelsea, Mass. in 1814, only 25 years after George Washington became the first President of the United States.  In 1838 he went to work for a well-known gunmaker, Cyrus B. Allen, in Springfield, Mass. In the 1840s Stevens worked for Samuel Colt’s company and later he made revolvers for Massachusetts Arms Co.
 In 1864 Stevens founded J. Stevens & Company (later renamed J. Stevens Arms and Tool Co.) to manufacture a single-shot pistol he had designed. The 1864 patent became the basis for all but two of 14 Stevens’ pistols.  The same tip-up action was used for his shoulder arms, including single-shot rifles and shotguns, from 1869 until 1885 when the then 71-year-old inventor patented his first solid-frame falling block action called the 1885 Sporting Rifle.
Later Stevens decided to develop a new .22 load because no fine small-game cartridge existed. Proficient hunters were losing interest in small game. It is estimated that Stevens began work on the .22 Long Rifle cartridge in 1886. And the following year, with the help of a Union Metallic Cartridge Co. employee named W.M. Thomas, he perfected it.  The fall 1888 edition of the Stevens catalog pictures the new .22 Long Rifle cartridge. Then Stevens insisted that the load deserved a better gun. By 1893 he had developed a prototype of the now-famous Favorite Long Rifle. In 1894 the rifle was patented. Stevens was 80 years old. Though he retired in 1896, the shooting expert seems to have influenced company policy up until his death in 1907 at the age of 92. His company introduced a favorite shotgun and a Visible Loading No. 70 Repeater, a pump action designed to handle the .22 Long.

1977 Inductee
Edward Hough

EDWARD C. HOUGH was introduced to the sporting goods industry in 1899, when he joined the Plymouth (Michigan) Iron Windmill Co. as a tester and packer of rifles. In 1894 the company was reorganized as the Daisy Manufacturing Co.  When Hough first became involved with air rifles, he was aware of the potential of the product as a source of recreation for American youth. He also was aware of the dangers air rifles could present if used improperly.  Hough’s awareness paid off for America’s young sportsmen since a shooting education program was developed at Daisy under Hough’s guidance. This program led to similar nationwide programs with the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, 4-H, U.S. Jaycees and other groups. During his years at Daisy, Hough held several executive positions. His first was secretary – a post to which he was elected in 1894. In 1902 he was named Daisy’s treasurer, and in 1915 he was elected vice president and treasurer.  Hough assumed the company’s presidency in 1956, succeeding the late Charles H. Bennett. He held that position until his death January 24, 1959.  Born March 17, 1872, Hough was a lifetime resident of Plymouth. He married Louise Sheffield in October 1896, and raised a family with one son and two daughters. His son, Cass S., kept up the family tradition in the sporting goods industry by being elected president of Daisy and the Victor Recreation Products Group.  Hough’s wide-ranging business and civic interests led him to become founder and first president of the Plymouth Telephone Co. in 1901; an organizer and founder of Plymouth’s Mayflower Hotel; a member and one of the developers of the Meadowbrook Country Club in Detroit; and a member of the Plymouth City Council.  He was also a member and former president of the Plymouth School Board; a charter member and second president of the Plymouth Rotary Club; a member of the Detroit Club; and a member of the Plymouth Rock Lodge AF & AM.

1978 Inductee
Robert Chesebro

ROBERT E. CHESEBRO, SR., chairman of the board of Wigwam Mills, Sheboygan, Wisconsin, joined Wigwam Mills in 1924, when it was known as the Hand Knit Hosiery Co. His father, Herbert was then president. He was made president in 1934 and his son, Robert Jr., was made president in 1968, after Chesebro Sr. took on responsibilities as chairman of the board.  Under Chesebro’s leadership, the company instituted practices that later became trends. It advertised and established a brand name of athletic and hunting hose (1940). It embarked on a major national advertising program, concentrating on outdoor magazines (1941).   Other Wigwam accomplishments include: the identification of sock size through the use of color toe (looping) thread (1949) – this later became standard in the industry; the development of nylon athletic, hunting and ski socks in the new era of synthetics (1949); the introduction of foot huggers stretch athletic socks with color-coded stretch size categories (1955); and care labeling of hosiery through use of washing instruction inserts.   Chesebro has been active in both industry and community affairs. He is past president of the Woolen Hosiery Institute of America and past director of the National Association of Hosiery Manufacturers. 

1978 Inductee
Adi Dassler

ADI DASSLER (1900-1978) founder of adidas, Germany, began designing and making shoes specifically for sports in 1920. The first Dassler-designed track shoe was produced in 1925 and the first soccer shoe a year later. In 1932, Dassler’s shoes were introduced into Olympic competition.  adidas, under Dassler’s direction, introduced a number of firsts: first multi-studded football shoe (1949), outside ball of foot protection (1955), first production of football shoes with nylon soles (1957), and first track shoes with receptacles mounted in nylon soles for interchangeable spikes (1962) and many other innovations.  In 1948, the famous adidas three stripes were added to the shoe for brand identification.  The company Dassler founded owns nearly 2,000 trademarks and applications for trademarks related to sports footwear and its brand unification.   A wing of the adidas headquarters plant in Herzogenaurach, Germany, houses one of Adi Dassler’s dreams – the adidas Sports Shoe Museum where more than 350 pairs of historically important sports shoes are exhibited.  

1978 Inductee
James D. Easton

JAMES D. EASTON (1907-1972), founder of the James D. Easton Co., Van Nuys, California, began making yew wood archery bows in 1922.  From 1922 to 1940 he constructed cedar tournament arrows.  In 1940, he developed aluminum arrow shafts and in 1945, started making tubing for the 24SRT-X aluminum arrow shaft. The aluminum arrow shaft developed by Easton was noted for its precision and uniformity, with exact tolerances of weight, stiffness and straightness. These shafts advanced archery scores and enhanced enjoyment of the sport by eliminating the variables of wood shafts.   After 30 years, Easton’s development is still recognized as a leader of arrow shafts.  Easton founded the Professional Archers Association. He served as president of the National Archery Association and was on its board of directors for 18 years.  He received the National Archery Association Dallon Medal of 1972.  Easton is credited with helping archery return to the 1972 and 1976 Olympics.  

1978 Inductee
Marvin Shutt

G. MARVIN SHUTT guided the tremendous growth of the National Sporting Goods Association as executive director for 31 years. Joining NSGA in April of 1948, Shutt was recognized as a major contributor to the development of the sporting goods industry into the $17 billion business it is today.  He was largely responsible for bringing stature and strength to the industry during its spectacular growth of the past three decades. His development and expansion of NSGA services sustained support of industry promotional organizations and helped achieve his goal.   Shutt brought the NSGA from a three-person operation and a miniscule budget in 1947 to its present position featuring a staff of 44 full-time professionals, a Chicago headquarters building, five regional offices and a multi-million dollar annual budget.  NSGA has been based in Chicago since 1956, owning and operating each of its three headquarters buildings.  Shutt’s influence on the industry and the Association are in evidence annually at the NSGA Convention and Show, the nation’s largest sporting goods trade event.  During its 50th Anniversary, in 1979, the NSGA Convention & Show attracted 1,675 exhibitors and 50,000 industry members.  In 1947, this trade event drew only 300 exhibitors and 3,600 attendees.  Born on March 23, 1918, in Auburn, Illinois, a small farming community south of Springfield, Shutt worked his way through Blackburn College in Carlinville, Illinois. From there he went on to earn a Bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Illinois in 1939. He earned a Master’s degree in economics in 1941 from the University of Illinois.  A few of his contributions to the industry would be the fostering of the dramatic growth of the Chicago Convention and Show and the Anaheim Fall Market, Memo to Management, Cost-of-Doing Business Survey, The Sporting Goods Industry Annual Market Report, Billiard Congress of America, Billiard & Bowling Institute of America, Ski Retailers International, The Sports Foundation, Inc., Gold Medal Awards, The Compass Program, Industry Product Fact Books.  He was voted into the Medalist Industry Hall of Fame, the Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Fame and cited by the United States Chamber of Commerce. Marvin Shutt died November 7, 1979, after 32 years of dedicated service to the sporting goods industry.

1979 Inductee
Jack Cooper

JACK CHARLES COOPER is chairman of the board and president of Cooper Canada Ltd. In 1932 he joined General Leather Goods, the original company. The following year the company started making inexpensive pads and in 1935 introduced popular-priced hockey gloves. The Cooper Company has created and pioneered virtually every new development in hockey equipment. They were the first to introduce team-colored hockey equipment and the first to use nylon, foam and modern plastics in equipment manufacturing.

Cooper has been in the forefront of providing safer products for the player while at the same time reducing the weight factor by more than 50 percent. He introduced the plastic hockey stock replacement blade in 1969, which was instrumental in the further development of off-ice hockey called “street hockey.” Much has changed since the company’s first leather hockey gloves and shin pads, which sold for less than others on the market, were introduced in the 1930s. This was the start of hockey protective equipment at popular prices and allowed many young players to take up the game who otherwise would not have had the opportunity. Smaller sizes were offered which afforded youngsters needed protection. Cooper and Frank Selke of the Montreal Canadiens worked to improve hockey equipment and many times provided pads and gloves to young players in remote areas who could not afford the equipment. Improved methods of production combined with new raw materials provide lighter, more durable, more protective equipment. Specialized pieces of equipment were developed. From its early days with 15 people, Cooper now employs 1,450 in plants in Toronto and Barbados and has distribution facilities in all countries where hockey is played.

1979 Inductee
Robert Molitor

ROBERT PETER MOLITOR is vice president of research and development for Spalding Division of Questor.  Molitor currently holds 12 patents, and his primary contribution to the sporting goods industry has been in the area of improving performance and durability of golf balls.  He is responsible for improved ball cores, thread, dimple design, finish coatings, and was the first to introduce urethane coating.  He pioneered development of 2-piece balls and invented the “Top Flite” ball.  In the area of leather inflatables he improved the tanning process, which led to better playability and was the first to develop and use “cushion control” for molding which provides for a better product feel.  In rubber inflatables he was responsible for an improved bladder reinforcement process (nylon uses), which lead to better playability.  He also was the first to employ cushion control in rubber inflatables.  In tennis he pioneered the color changes in tennis balls from white to yellow.  He pioneered the use of aluminum and composites in tennis rackets.  For softball he pioneered the development of molded cellular softball and baseball centers. This development in baseballs changed the trend from scarce horsehide to cowhide, which was introduced into Major Leagues in 1974.  In snow skiing he was the first to introduce foam construction in ski boots. He also helped develop laminate composite skis.  

1980 Inductee
Thomas Broderick

THOMAS M. BRODERICK, president and founder of The Broderick Co. Inc., is a pioneer in the field of women’s athletic wear. He established Tom Broderick Co. in 1929 and introduced girls’ gymwear at sporting goods stores in the same year.
Among his accomplishments, Broderick was first to produce competitive team uniforms made specifically for girls. In the 1950s, at the request of coaches participating in the Tokyo Olympics, Broderick manufactured functional stretch knit uniforms, again specifically designed for women.  The Broderick Co. outfitted the women’s basketball team at the Montreal Olympics and the women’s track team at the Munich Games to name a few.  In 1929 and the early years of the Depression, sporting goods retailers were hesitant to stock clothing for women and children. Broderick, however, convinced retailers of its potential and made history when A.G. Spalding Co. agreed to stock his line.  In 1962, Broderick received the Research Institute of America’s Meritorious Service Award “In recognition of the contribution made in furthering business research and in stimulating the personal and professional growth of people who constitute its enterprise.”  In the mid-1920s, while working for the Meyer’s Gym Mfg. Co. in Southern California, Broderick envisioned the potential market for team uniforms. Unable to convince his employer, he went into business for himself. At first, he worked out of his garage and employed two other salesmen. In 1977, Broderick established awards for outstanding women collegiate athletes in 12 sports. The awards are given through the Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women.  Broderick helped start American Association for Health, Physical Education and Recreation chapters in several states. He is the oldest exhibitor at the AAMPER national show.  

1980 Inductee
William Lyman

WILLIAM LYMAN (1854-1896) was founder of Lyman-Products Corp. Lyman, a tireless inventor, astute businessman possessed of mechanical intuitiveness, is responsible for several innovations that aided hunters and participating marksmen.  He developed and patented the first aperture sight with elevation adjustments. He also holds the patent on the ivory bead front sight for shotguns.  Although modern sight technology has surpassed these achievements, they were considered a major advancement in their day.  These two basic designs were the foundation on which the Lyman Gun Sight Co. was built. In all, however, Lyman secured 17 gun sight patents.  Breakthroughs by Lyman were numerous. His Number 15 wind gage tang sight was the first to reliably adjust for wind in addition to elevation.  His Number 21 receiver peep sight, developed specifically for the Winchester ’95 repeating rifle, became the standard sight for lever-action guns.  His Number 22 sight was the first practical peep sight suited for mounting on the receiver of a bolt-action rifle. Lyman also invented wind gauge front sights, front sights with interchangeable apertures and front sights that flipped up and down, revealing first one, then the other unique bead, post or aperture. His folding leaf sight, the Number Six, became the accepted auxiliary sight for scope-mounted rifles. And shortly before his death, Lyman added pistol and revolver sights to his list of credentials. Lyman was more than a gun sight inventor. His first patent was obtained in 1875 for his bow-facing oar system. It allowed the rower to move in the direction he was facing. In the case of the duck hunter, he could be on target as soon as the startled duck splashed off into flight. Lyman died of pneumonia in 1896 at the age of 42, leaving his family to carry on the business.

1981 Inductee
Sheldon Coleman

SHELDON COLEMAN is a second-generation recipient of the Hall of Fame Award.  In 1959, the National Sporting Goods Association elected his father, the late William Coffin Coleman, to the Hall of Fame.   Coleman has followed in his father’s footsteps. He is known throughout the industry for his emphasis on research and development and for his aggressive merchandising practices.  Coleman is responsible for a long list of innovative sporting goods products. They include: a redesign of the gasoline lantern; an automatic shut-off for propane catalytic heaters, a major safety innovation; the introduction of the first washable sleeping bags; the first propane appliances with pressure regulators, providing consistent operation over a variety of temperatures; the convertible cooler; Urethane insulation in jugs and coolers; a gasoline heater which perfected flameless catalytic combustion for a portable heating device.  Born in 1901, Coleman joined his father’s company in 1925 after graduating from Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, where he received a degree in mechanical engineering.  After working for several years in the company factory, Coleman assumed responsibility for the company’s research and development operations.  He is credited with helping Coleman Co. expand its farm and small-town market base.  At the time of Sheldon Coleman’s election to the Hall of Fame he was Chairman of the Board of the Coleman Company, Inc. and extremely active in the operation of the business.  

1981 Inductee
Willard Voit

WILLARD D. VOIT (1910-1980) was former chairman of the board of AMF Voit, Inc., Santa Ana, California.  Voit was the son of a Hall of Fame winner.  In 1958 his father, William J. Voit, received the award for his development of the first full-molded rubber inflatable ball.  William was founder of the W.J. Voit Corp. in the mid ’20s.  The corporation later became the Voit Rubber Co. and merged with AMF in 1957 to become AMF Voit Inc.
Willard, William’s only son, carried on the family tradition and is responsible for numerous innovations in the industry.  He was remembered for his strong belief that new sports could develop only through introducing and properly marketing new products.  He is credited with the development of computerized programming of filament windings in inflated balls, round and ovate.  Through Voit’s guidance, the ball and game of tetherball were created and promoted.  The kicking tee was another product introduced by Voit, and under his leadership, the company developed the rubber-covered water polo ball, which is the standard for official play at collegiate, international and Olympic levels.  After World War II, the company marketed the first swim fins and mask. During the 1960s, Voit’s innovations included investment-cast golf irons and the use of foam core, fiberglass and polyurethane in snow skis.  Willard Voit joined Voit Rubber Co. in 1931 upon graduating from the University of Southern California.  After holding various positions within the company, he became president in 1946 after the death of his father.  He served in this capacity until 1960 when he became chairman of the board of what was then called AMF Voit Co.  He retired in May 1970.

1982 Inductee
Claude Carr

CLAUDE E. CARR, former president of Rawlings Sporting Goods Co., was a vital force in the transformation of Rawlings from a small, regional manufacturer to a leader in the industry. Carr was president of the firm from 1946 to 1965, after 15 years of service as a salesman, sales manager and executive vice president.  During his tenure at Rawlings, he was responsible for, or assisted in the development and promotion of, a variety of products: face protectors on football helmets in 1954; wide-seam molded basketballs for better ballhandling and faster play; 1-piece football pant with snap-in padding; the snubber on shoulder pads; bar tacking on thigh guards and knee-pad pockets.  In 1957 Carr introduced the Golden Glove Award for outstanding fielding in Major League Baseball.  He was a driving force behind Rawlings’ wartime efforts which lead to the first Army-Navy “E” award to an athletic goods manufacturer.  Carr is a past president of the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association.  He took an active role in the Athletic Institute as well.  Carr passed away in December 1981.

1982 Inductee
Frank Hoppe

FRANK HOPPE, founder of Frank A. Hoppe Co., is noted for his innovations in the field of firearms safety and maintenance.  Hoppe solved a problem in gun care and maintenance that had not been possible up to that time. This served as the opening of a new era in firearms maintenance that has meant the preservation of literally millions of fine guns. Additionally, the product opened the way to a whole product line of gun care equipment and the founding of his company.  Hoppe was a founding member of the National Rifle Association and became a life member in 1912.  He passed away in 1921 at the age of 46.

1982 Inductee
C. C. Johnson Spink

C.C. JOHNSON SPINK, was the last publisher from the family that founded The Sporting News more than 100 years ago.  Robert F. Erburu, chairman and chief executive officer of the Times Mirror Co., which bought the sports publication in 1977, said: “Johnson Spink inherited and then enhanced a great institution in The Sporting News.  He was willing to risk changing the tradition of his grandfather to broaden the sports coverage in ‘Baseball’s Bible.’  “Johnson loved The Sporting News and was concerned that he put it in good hands,” Erburu said. “Times Mirror felt very honored to be selected by him as his successor.”  Spink, who had no children, had said his decision to sell the publication was made on his 60th birthday while he was shaving and wondering what might happen to The Sporting News and its employees if he were to be killed in traffic on his way to work.

1983 Inductee
Frank Lowy

FRANK LOWY (1901-1969), a native of Budapest, Hungary, was founder-owner of Unicorn Products Ltd. in Forest Hill, London, England. He began his career with a 6-Pound (British) investment and an idea for improving and marketing darts. With a background as an apprentice engineer and having worked in an international patent office, Lowy applied his knowledge and his newly found interest in the game of darts to design and patent the “Silver Comet” dart in 1937. Lowy took the darts, which were sold loose on market stalls or hardware stores, and packaged them in sets of three and marketed them through sporting goods stores.  Lowy’s dart manufacturing and marketing was only part-time until after WWII when the business developed rapidly, becoming the world’s largest and leading manufacturer of darts, equipment and accessories. He was the first to market plastic dart flights and to export darts in substantial quantities.  Frank Lowy was a unique character. He took 6 Pounds and a single idea, applied his mind and energy to the equipment for the game of darts, plucked sales from the street and placed them firmly in the sporting goods industry. He developed and invented equipment through which a simple inn game was translated into a worldwide sport and by broadening the range of essential items for the dart played he provided a year-round demand for sporting goods stores everywhere.  

1983 Inductee
Roberts Storey

ROBERTS E. STOREY (1905-1980) was Chairman of the Board of Nocona Athletic Goods Co., a company he formed in 1931 from its parent company, the Nocona Leather Goods Company.  Among Storey’s many innovations and patents are the “Wristanker”, a band for fastening a baseball glove to the player’s wrist; and “Finger Loops” for allowing the baseball player to put one of his fingers outside the glove. Storey’s sharp-pointed football, the first of its kind, was adopted by many of the southern colleges because it was easier to pass. Ray Morrison, “the father of the forward pass”, was one of the first to use Storey’s ball after the forward pass was clarified and restrictions were lifted in 1933. At that time there were no standards for football size, shape or inflation.  The southern college’s use of Storey’s ball led to the standardization of footballs with an adaptation/revision of Storey’s ball.  In 1931, Storey established a personal precedent (which is now company-wide), for using American made materials only for the manufacturing of Nocona’s products. No imported goods or materials have ever been used at Nocona. 

1984 Inductee
James Long

JAMES M. LONG is Senior Vice President of Spalding Sports Worldwide, Chicopee, Massachusetts. Long has been an integral part and driving force in the sporting goods industry for over 50 years. He joined the Engineering Department of Spalding on February 23, 1932, and has served the company as an Engineer, Engineering Manager, Vice President, President of Engineering and Product Design, President of Spalding International, and now as Senior Vice President of Manufacturing Operations for Spalding Worldwide.  Long assisted M.B. Reach in the design of the Last Built laceless basketball and developed the equipment to manufacture it. Laceless basketballs could be made perfectly round, which made for better passing, dribbling and shooting and the resulting increase in scoring led to a dramatic rise in the game’s popularity.  He made a major contribution to the sport of golf by spearheading the transition from hickory-shaft golf clubs to steel shafts, designing the first matched golf clubs, assisting in the development of methods for testing the flexibility, durability and matching of steel shafts, and assisting in the development of a golf club grip foundation which led to the current totally molded rubber grips. He is credited with developing the production line conveyor process for making fully finished golf club heads, developing the first automatic finishing process for iron club heads, and assisting in the development of the process for the first polyurethane topcoat for golf balls. Thus, because of James Long, the sporting goods industry has new products to sell, better products to sell and more products to sell.  He built two factories for Spalding in the U.S. and has supervised the building of factories in Italy, Spain and Japan. He has supervised worldwide operations for Spalding for over 30 years throughout Canada, Australia, Europe, India, Pakistan, the U.S.S.R., Taiwan, Korea, Japan and the Republic of China. He was among the first in the sporting goods industry to go to the Far East to set standards for product improvements.

1985 Inductee
Walter Montenegro

WALTER MONTENEGRO spent more than 45 years in the manufacture and distribution of tennis and squash racquets and equipment. During that time, he became dedicated to the improvement of racquet sports, especially through the ownership with his son of the Cragin-Simplex Corporation.  Mr. Montenegro also was active in the affairs of service organizations, and he helped found and manage that association’s Manufacturing Division.  In 1961, he was instrumental in changing the nature of squash and increasing participation in it by developing and producing a new ball known as the “Green Diamond.”  The “Yellow Diamond,” developed soon after, helped make squash a year-round sport for the first time by making it easier to play in the summer months.  Mr. Montenegro also published a precedent-setting magazine devoted to squash, which was distributed monthly and was free. Prior to it, there was no publication dedicated to publishing current news about the sport.  Mr. Montenegro also served as treasurer for the World Professional Squash Racquets Association, and since 1947 has donated its annual championship trophies. In recent years, he has been honored many times for his contributions and service to racquet sports.  In 1974, he was honored with a testimonial dinner for 42 years of service to racquet sports. He has been named “Man of the Year” by the North American Squash Racquets Association and presented with its Ketcham Trophy. The Tennis Foundation of North America, which he helped to found in 1973, named him its first Honorary Lifetime Member in 1983, when he retired from active participation. He also holds Lifetime Honorary memberships in: the U.S. Professional Tennis Association, U.S. Squash Racquets Association, World Professional Squash Association and Mexican Squash Racquets Association.  His contributions and service have led to the increased enjoyment by many of racquet sports.  

1985 Inductee
Jacob Oshman

JACOB S. OSHMAN (1900-1965), an immigrant boy who arrived in America at age 11, started learning the retail business in 1919 working in his aunt’s dry goods store. In 1931, he purchased the bankrupt stock of a surplus store in Houston. While liquidating the inventory he was intrigued to see sporting goods sold the fastest. The spark was lit and Jake Oshman’s extraordinary love story with the sporting goods business began. From that liquidation sale until his death in 1965, he was obsessed with a dream to create a business that would live after him. The success and leadership he provided during those 33 years are both an inspiration and a legacy.  A superior merchant, he possessed a rare sense of what people wanted. He greatly admired major department chain stores and applied their ideas and techniques of “open merchandising” to the sporting goods business. He knew customers wanted to touch and feel the merchandise, so he gave them direct access to it.  He organized Oshman’s stores into departments, with department identification and department heads. He positioned Oshman’s among the first sporting goods stores to offer charge accounts. From that credit list, he developed mailing lists that led to the development of Oshman’s direct mail catalog, which became a model for the industry. He was one of the nation’s first merchants to combine sportswear with sporting goods. Of singular importance was his willingness to graciously share his knowledge, experience and understanding. His counsel was sought by the National Sporting Goods Association and its directors for the betterment of the industry and the benefit of other retailers. He shared Oshman’s Christmas catalog experience with NSGA members who could not have otherwise produced one individually. Most of Mr. Oshman’s philosophies on merchandising, service and quality in the sporting goods business were so sound that they are as applicable today as then. 

1985 Inductee
William Ruger

WILLIAM B. RUGER became fascinated with firearms in his boyhood. He began experimenting with designs for them in high school and later at the University of North Carolina. Shortly before World War II, he sold the design for a machine gun to the makers of the famous “Tommy Gun.” He spent the war years developing machine guns and gained insight into both the manufacture and design of guns, experience that proved invaluable in later years because ease and efficiency of manufacture are vital parts of firearms design. In 1949, in partnership with Alexander M. Sturm, he founded Sturm, Ruger, & Company, Inc. Mr. Ruger is best known for designing the Ruger .22 caliber automatic pistol and the “Single Six” revolver. A variety of other handguns, rifles and shotguns manufactured by Sturm, Ruger are the fruits of his design and engineering genius.  In addition to being a brilliant gun designer, Mr. Ruger understood what the shooting public wanted. Responding to the public’s infatuation with TV Westerns and the demand for a Colt-type, single-action revolver, Mr. Ruger designed the “Single Six” to resemble the old Colt .45; however, it used inexpensive .22 caliber bullets. In 1959, the company opened a new plant in Southport, Connecticut, that included an innovative casting facility. There, complicated shapes for gun parts and other metal components are produced by a lost-wax process, a revolutionary gun-making concept pioneered by Mr. Ruger.  During its existence, Sturm, Ruger & Company, Inc. has introduced a new gun design on the average of once every 1 1/2 years, while maintaining production of previous models. This is almost without precedent in the arms industry. 

1986 Inductee
James Campbell

JAMES E. CAMPBELL, SR. started in the sporting goods business in 1945 when he rented a 2,000-square foot store in Santa Barbara, California. Today, Mr. Campbell, founder of the California based, All-American Sporting Goods Co., Inc., owns stores in Ventura and Santa Maria in addition to Santa Barbara.  From 1942 to 1945, Mr. Campbell served as a United States Naval Reserve lieutenant during World War II. His first experience in the sporting goods industry was buying equipment for a naval air training base during that time. Later, he gained additional experience as a coach at Center College in Danville, Kentucky. In 1950, while serving as president of the Western Sporting Goods Association, Campbell pioneered the standardized, 8 1/2 x 11, three-hole punched industry catalogue, which previously had been produced in all sizes.  More recently, he has contributed ideas and advice used in the development of footballs, football shoes, golf clubs and tennis racquets manufactured by H.C. Pendleton and Co., Inc.  In addition, he has served as president of the Santa Barbara Downtown Business Association and president of the Committee to Save Downtown Santa Barbara. He also provided assistance to actor Fess Parker in his efforts to develop the Park Plaza Hotel and Conference Center. Campbell was chairman of NSGA in 1981 and served two three-year terms as a director. He is also former chairman of the Hall of Fame Committee. 

1986 Inductee
Dwight Hauff

DWIGHT C. HAUFF has been part of the sporting goods industry for 65 years. He graduated from Morningside College, Sioux City, Iowa, in 1926 where he lettered in basketball and baseball and was on the all-conference team. After graduation, he returned to his hometown of Merrill, Iowa, as a teacher and coach.  From 1929-1932, he worked as a salesman for the A.G. Spalding & Bros. Company. Then, in 1933, he and Evelyn Peterson opened Dwight Hauff Sporting Goods, which he continues to operate today. Since that time, Hauff has seen his company grow to include three other retail sporting goods stores in the Midwest: Hauff Sporting Goods of Omaha, Nebraska; Iowa Sports Supply of Cedar Falls, Iowa; and Dakota Sports, Inc. of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Always going the extra mile, Mr. Hauff has unselfishly helped many others get a start in the industry, both as dealers and factory reps. His dedication and support to the young never stops.  Each year, he prints a track schedule of all the area meets. In addition, he writes a monthly newsletter, which he mails to surrounding schools, covering area news and providing words of praise and congratulations to area teams and coaches. He also uses the newsletter to point out rule changes and list teams that need games. He speaks to area college classes and has helped Morningside College students for years with part-time jobs. Hauff has served on the advisory board of the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) since its inception, and his idea for voluntary funding by the helmet manufacturers continues today. He was also a member of the Athletic Institute-Sports Foundation Interscholastic Steering Committee to promote participation in athletics and to combat curtailment of athletic programs.  Closer to home, he is a member of the Northwest Iowa Coaches’ and Officials’ Hall of Fame, Greater Sioux City Athletic Association, and Tri-State Coaches’ and Officials’ Association.  Hauff served as President (now known as Chairman) of NSGA in 1960 and has also served two terms on the board of directors. He is a former member of the Hall of Fame Committee as well as former president of The Sports Foundation.  Dwight Hauff continues to support NSGA and the sporting goods industry. He attended the first NSGA Chicago Show and has missed only a couple in the last 65 years.  

1986 Inductee
Fred Sington

FRED W. SINGTON has had a deep-rooted love of sports that began during his college days at the University of Alabama where he was all-American in football in 1929 and 1930, and all-American in baseball in 1931. It seemed inevitable that he would seek a career in athletics, and from 1931-1934, he was a member of the football coaching staff at Duke University and played professional baseball from 1931-1940, starting in the minor leagues in Atlanta and then spending six years in Major League Baseball with Washington and Brooklyn.  After serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II, Mr. Sington opened his first sporting goods store in his native Birmingham, Alabama in 1947. Steady expansion followed, and the first branch store was opened in Homewood, followed by the opening of stores in Huntsville and Gadsden. Over the last four decades, his business has grown to become one of the leading retailers and team distributors in Alabama and the Southeast.  Through the years, Sington has always been conscious of his obligations to his community. He is the founder and director of the Metropolitan Youth Football League, chairman of the Birmingham Athletic Affairs Committee, and founder of the All-American Bowl played in Birmingham. He also is a former Southeastern Conference football referee and president of the Football Officials Association.   Sington is a member of the Southeastern Sporting Goods Dealers Association and former president of the Alabama Sporting Goods Dealers Association. He served as president of NSGA in 1966, was a member of the board for six years and served as chairman of the Hall of Fame Committee. He is a member or former member of many other sports-related and civic organizations.  As a result of his many outstanding achievements, numerous honors have come to Mr. Sington in the area of athletics. He is a member of the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame, National Football Hall of Fame, Softball Hall of Fame, Southern Football Hall of Fame and was named to the All-Time University of Alabama Football Team.
 

1987 Inductee
Vance Hall

VANCE L. HALL founder and president of Vance Hall Sporting Goods, began his career in the sporting goods industry in 1951, opening his first store in Amarillo, Texas. He now operates three sporting goods stores in Amarillo and one in Tampa, Florida.  Hall’s achievements over the past 35 years are noteworthy. A member of NSGA for 30 years, he has served on the NSGA Board of Directors, is a past president of the Western Sporting Goods Association, and is a past winner of The Sporting Goods Dealer Leadership Award.  Hall was an All-Big Eight Conference basketball player at the University of Kansas, where he played at the varsity level for three seasons. He also served as a flight instructor in the United States Air Force and flew 26 missions over the Himalayas during World War II.  An active community member as well, Hall served on the Board of Directors for Kids, Inc., the YMCA and the Amarillo Country Club.

1987 Inductee
Robert Lundgren

ROBERT G. “SWEDE” LUNDGREN has a long history of involvement in the sporting goods industry and his community. He began his retail career in 1939 as an employee of Dingler Sporting Goods, where he worked while attending high school and college in his hometown of Worthington, Minnesota. Taking a four-year break to serve in World War II, Lundgren re-entered the industry as an outside salesman and later a manager for Dingler. In 1960, he purchased the store and changed the name to Lundgren Sporting Goods. As an active member of industry organizations, Lundgren was a member of the Minnesota Sporting Goods Dealers Association for 15 years and a member of NSGA for 44 years. The Sporting Goods Dealer, in naming him its Baseball Retailer of the Year in 1966, called him “Minnesota’s Man of Baseball.” His involvement in amateur sports programs in Southwestern Minnesota is legendary. Lundgren’s credits include coordinating the local VFW athletic programs for 25 years, a 20-year member of the Southwest Minnesota Officials Association, founder and 12-year coach of Little League Baseball and a football and basketball game official.  Lundgren has been actively involved in local business organizations as well. He served on the Worthington Chamber of Commerce, the city’s downtown Redevelopment Commission and as president of the Worthington Downtown Retail Association.

1987 Inductee
Robert Schmalzried

ROBERT L. SCHMALZRIED is a 40-year veteran of the sporting goods industry getting his start in 1941 as an institutional salesman for Bill Hatch Sporting Goods in Spokane, Washington. In 1948 he left Spokane to become a buyer, and later Merchandise Manager, for T.B. Rayl’s in Detroit, Michigan.  In 1953, Schmalzried bought Dunham’s Bait store in Detroit, which became the Sporting Goods Lease Department for K-mart in 1961, a relationship which lasted until 1965, when K-Mart bought Dunham’s out.  Schmalzried stayed on as President of K-mart Sporting Goods until 1968. Later, he served as President of R.L.S. Sports, a subsidiary of Yankee Department Stores, and of Dunham’s Inc., a chain of sporting goods stores, which he sold to American Can Company in 1985.  Schmalzried served as Chairman of the Board of Dunham’s Athleisure Corporation, a subsidiary of American Can, until 1987. Today, he remains a consultant to that company.  Schmalzried’s success in the sporting goods industry brought him a variety of awards over the years, including being the 1976 recipient of The Sporting Goods Dealer Leadership Award as the nation’s top independent retailer. He was also named Ski Industries America Ski Retailer of the Year in 1980, and is an honorary Eagle Scout of the Boy Scouts of America. Today, he is actively involved with the Detroit Inner City Boys Club and the Kiwanis.

1987 Inductee
Dr. Suren Seron

DR. SUREN M. SERON (1906-1987) was a man of many talents, both inside and outside the sporting goods industry. 
He entered the sporting goods business in 1952, when he invented the “Glass-Gard” eyeglass holder, patented in 1958. This eyeglass holder was the first fully adjustable model of its kind, fitting and holding to all temple sizes without slipping off. For the first time, eyeglass wearers had something that would easily fit their glasses and keep them in place comfortably. Over the years, the Glass-Gard enabled millions of eyeglass wearers to achieve greater excellence and perform to their full potential as they participated in sports of all kinds with confidence.  Under the leadership of Dr. Seron and his wife, Blanche, Seron Manufacturing Company successfully marketed the Glass-Gard to worldwide distribution and acceptance, both as a sports accessory as well as an accessory for industrial safety glasses. In 1959, Dr. Seron received a patent on the “Tip-Gard” Whistle Mouthpiece Cover, which protected thousands of coaches and referees from damaged teeth while also allowing metal whistles to be used comfortably in cold or freezing weather. Dr. Seron also received a patent on a new type of whistle lanyard and manufactured many specialty lanyards. While his company continued to produce many fine products used by athletes all over the world, his accomplishments could be felt in other areas as well. He received his Doctor of Dental Surgery Degree from the University of Illinois College of Dentistry in 1932, was on the staff of Silver Cross Hospital for more than 25 years, and served various terms on the Joliet Township, Illinois, and Board of Education. Dr. Seron was president of Seron Manufacturing Company until his death in January 1987. 

1987 Inductee
Howe Sipes

HOWE K. SIPES, JR. began his career in the sporting goods industry in 1946, when he and his father established the Howe K. Sipes Company for the purpose of manufacturing athletic uniforms and jackets. The company was one of the first to carry these products ready-made, in stock, for immediate delivery. It also originated many styles of award jackets, sideline jackets, and baseball and softball uniforms that are still popular today.  For many years, the company has provided coaches and sideline jackets for numerous professional and college teams. Throughout his high school years, Sipes worked as a retail shoe and clothing salesman. Following graduation, he joined a department store chain in Memphis, Tennessee where he was transferred to the Corinth, Mississippi, branch and promoted to manager.  Prior to founding the Howe K. Sipes Company, Sipes attended trade schools, studying aircraft mechanics and electricity and working briefly as an aircraft engine mechanic before entering the U.S. Air Force. He served during World War II as a Flight Engineer on a B-29 Bomber.  

1987 Inductee
Roy Weatherby

ROY E. WEATHERBY entered the sporting goods industry in 1945 by starting Weatherby, Inc., a firearms company in South Gate, California. From the start, Mr. Weatherby had an impact on the business of manufacturing sporting firearms. In 1945, he pioneered high-velocity hunting cartridges with the introduction of the Weatherby Magnum Cartridge. In 1956, he developed the Weatherby Rifle Stock Design and introduced the Weatherby Big Game Trophy Award, presented annually to an individual who is not only an outstanding hunter, but also one who has contributed greatly to conservation and hunting education. In 1958, he designed and introduced the Weatherby Mark V Action Rifle, the first new commercial action rifle to be developed in several years. In 1966, Mr. Weatherby became the first rifle scope manufacturer to equip the ocular eyepiece with a soft neoprene ring to protect against cuts due to recoil.  In 1983, he became the first rifle manufacturer to offer commercially produced fiberglass stocks on the Weatherby Fibermark model rifle.  In 1984, Mr. Weatherby was inducted into the Safari Club International Hunting Hall of Fame for his contributions to the shooting sports industry. Mr. Weatherby, who passed away in April 1988, was a member of Safari Club International, the Southern California Safari Club and the National Rifle Association.

1988 Inductee
Lee R. Anderson

LEE R. ANDERSON started his career in the sporting goods industry in 1933 working part-time at Alexander Sporting Goods in Danville, Illinois.  After graduating from high school in 1935, he enrolled in the University of Illinois, majoring in agriculture. While a student at the University of Illinois, Anderson worked part-time at Bailey & Himes in Champaign, Illinois.  In 1945, he returned to Danville and purchased Alexander’s from its original owner, Cleve Alexander. The business has remained in the Anderson family ever since. During his long career in the sporting goods industry, Mr. Anderson served two terms as a member of the NSGA Board of Directors. He also served as Treasurer and Vice Chairman of the association, before becoming Chairman of the Board in 1977. 
He was also a past President of The Sports Foundation. Mr. Anderson was also quite active in numerous local, civic and business groups. He was a founder of the Danville Little League and Pony League, served on the University of Illinois President’s Council, was a member of the Danville High School Booster’s Club and the Illini Quarterback Club, was a board member of the YMCA, and also served on the Danville Planning Commission.  Mr. Anderson retired from Alexander’s in 1987 and died in January 1988. 

1988 Inductee
Ken Connor

KEN CONNOR borrowed $250 to get started in the sporting goods industry as a 19-year-old in 1939. Under his leadership, Casey’s Sports Stores won the Sporting Goods Leadership Award from Sporting Goods Dealer magazine in 1973 and 1983.  Casey’s has been named by Snow magazine as one of the top 300 ski shops in the world, and is listed in the “Who’s Who” of sporting goods retailing.  In 1975, Mr. Connor was named to the Board of Directors of the Canadian Sporting Goods Association (CSGA), the only American to serve in this capacity. In 1976, he was elected Chairman of the CSGA Retailers Committee.  In addition to his industry accomplishments, Mr. Connor was noted for civic and business accomplishments in the St. Louis area. He is one of the founders of the St. Louis Sports Council, a group consisting of manufacturers, distributors, retailers, and manufacturing representatives in the St. Louis area.  He is a member of the St. Louis Sports Council Hall of Fame. Mr. Connor is also a member of the Executive Committee of the Missouri Merchants and Manufacturers Association, and is an annual contributor to the St. Louis area council of the Boy Scouts of America.  He also annually contributes ice skates to deserving underprivileged or handicapped persons. In 1983, he was made a life member of the St. Louis Cycling Club in recognition of his contributions over the years to the sport of bicycling. In 1986, he was named Businessman of the year by the St. Louis County Chamber of Commerce.  Despite failing health, Connor remained active in the industry, attending the NSGA Management Conference and Chicago Show until his death in 1996. 

1988 Inductee
Charles Flaherty

CHARLES J. FLAHERTY, SR. and his company, the John B. Flaherty Co., Inc. in Bronx, New York, are known throughout the industry for athletic supporters and other personal protective products. During the middle 1930s, Mr. Flaherty developed the “Bub” Duribilknit line. This line was the first to be made with continuous strands of strong surgical elastic; the first to be made by a process that prevented “creeping” of the elastic threads; the first to “custom fit” construction for added protection from strain and more serious injury; and the first to use a patented “flesh elastic” that did not cut or chafe. Bub products were narrower, softer, yet stronger than other athletic supporters on the market at that time.  In the early 1950s, Mr. Flaherty developed the “Flarico” line of popularly priced athletic supporters and personal protective products.  Mr. Flaherty is also known as an innovator in the packaging of athletic supporters and other items that allowed these products to be displayed openly in sporting goods retail stores instead of under the counter as was previously done. He introduced wire display racks, which helped to make personal protective equipment an impulse item, by improving the point-of-sale display of these products. Mr. Flaherty died in November 1978.

1988 Inductee
Walter Koenig

WALTER C. KOENIG entered his family’s hardware business in 1933 and eventually established a sporting goods department that ultimately represented 50 percent of the store’s selling space. Mr. Koenig is recognized as one of the first sporting goods retailers to open stores in enclosed shopping malls; his first was in 1967. Today, Koenig Sporting Goods consists of more than 20 stores in Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York, as well as a successful team business in northern Ohio.  Mr. Koenig served in the Navy during World War II as a special purchasing officer of athletic supplies for the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard. For three years in this position, Mr. Koenig spent approximately $1 million per day on athletic equipment. He ultimately was selected the Navy’s liaison with the War Production Board, and in that position fought for, and received, a steady flow of raw materials for the sporting goods industry. This helped many sporting goods manufacturers stay in business during the war years.  Also during this period, Mr. Koenig worked with Willard Voit to develop a rubber-covered basketball that could be used by servicemen in the Pacific zone without mildewing, as leather covered balls did.  Mr. Koenig is the Chairman of the Board of Koenig Sporting Goods, a family business he runs with his sons Craig and Brian.  

1989 Inductee
Dewey Houston

DEWEY A. HOUSTON, founder and president of Twin City Knitting Company, began his hosiery manufacturing operation in Conover, N.C. in 1960.  Prior to this venture, he was with Coca-Cola for 16 years as salesman and sales manager.  With an original investment of $7,500 and three employees, he began manufacturing men’s argyle hosiery. Within two years, he decided to manufacture exclusively for the sporting goods industry. He began with baseball stirrup hose and expanded the line to include sanitary hose, tube and specialty hosiery, hose for hockey and soccer, a dealer line of caps and visors, and the “two-in-one” baseball stirrup hose, for which he holds a patent.  All of this has been made possible because of his leadership and the total commitment of his family and employees. Today, Twin City Knitting has more than 200 employees and four plants, with distribution in all 50 states and many foreign countries.  

1989 Inductee
Kenneth Konkol

KENNETH C. KONKOL led Champion Glove Manufacturing Company of Des Moines, Iowa, to annual sales of sporting gloves and related products exceeding $7 million with distribution in all 50 states and seven countries.  He joined what was then known as the Lindfelt Glove Manufacturing Company in 1953 as office manager. He and an associate gradually acquired the firm’s stock, moved it to new facilities and renamed it Champion Glove in 1969. Konkol bought out his partner in 1983 and served as Champion’s president until retirement last February. He continues to serve as a consultant.  Konkol was the force behind the research and development of many new Champion products including the baseball batting glove, the Don Carter bowling glove and more than a dozen other models for sports ranging from golf and racquetball to wheelchair racing. The company was the first to use Velcro to secure a glove around the wrist. He introduced innovative “clamshell” packaging for gloves in 1975.  He has been very active in handball, both as a competitor and administrator. In 1972, Konkol supplied handball gloves and the national handball champion to teach NASA’s astronauts the sport. He has served the United States Handball Association, National Association of Accountants, Izaak Walton League and many other civic and church groups.  

1989 Inductee
John Lawlor

JOHN F. LAWLOR owns one of the oldest businesses in the sporting goods industry. His family-owned company, Lawlor’s Sporting Goods, was founded in Lincoln, Nebraska, in 1896 by John’s father, Nicholas Lawlor.  Due to his father’s illness, John took over the business when he was 22 and led the company through many difficult years, including the depression and World War II.  He was an early pioneer in the team athletic business and had salesmen calling on schools more than 400 miles from Lincoln. He pushed Lawlor’s into multiple outlets, which now total four in Lincoln and Omaha. At age 90, he still serves as the Chairman of the Board. He believed strongly in NSGA and until recently had attended the national conventions and shows since they began in 1929. He served on the NSGA Board from 1947-49 and was President (now known as Chairman) in 1949.  His leadership helped keep the association together in those early years and helped build its reputation with retailers, manufacturers and agents.  He has been active in many community endeavors, including the Chamber of Commerce, the Lincoln Community Chest and the University of Nebraska Alumni Association. He received the University’s “Distinguished Service” award in 1983.

1989 Inductee
Eugene Walby

EUGENE V. WALBY was a prominent figure on the Seattle sports scene for more than 60 years, many of which he spent as owner of Athletic Supply Co., one of Washington State’s most dominant sporting goods dealers.   An outstanding high school and college baseball player, Walby took his first job after college with A.G. Spalding as a retail clerk. In 1934, he moved to Athletic Supply Co., than a two-man operation. In 1939, he purchased the retiring owner’s interest and began his eventual rise to status as the top dealer in western Washington. Athletic Supply served the high school and college team business and expanded into a large retail operation.  He served the National Sporting Goods Association as a Board member from 1947-54 and as President (now known as Chairman) in 1953. He was also very active in local baseball and hockey programs in the Seattle area before passing away in 1982.  

1990 Inductee
Rooster Andrews

ROOSTER ANDREWS, after earning a business degree from the University of Texas, got his start in the sporting goods industry in 1946 when he accepted a position with C & S Sporting Goods in Austin to sell team sporting goods to schools and institutional accounts.  He ultimately became president of C & S in 1961, a position he held until 1969, when he became Vice President and Manager of Texas Sporting Goods located in Victoria, Texas, a new operation. Two years later, the store’s annual sales exceeded $1 million.  In 1971 Andrews started his own company – Rooster Andrews Sporting Goods – that today consists of three stores in Austin that produce annual sales in excess of $5 million and which employ 80 people. Andrews is a member of the City of Austin Athletic Hall of Fame and a past winner of the Doak Walker NFL Alumni Association Award (1987) for contributions to the sport of football, and has served as President of the Texas Athletic Dealers Association.  

1990 Inductee
Charles Caravati

CHARLES E. CARAVATI is the Chairman of the Board of Dixie Sporting Goods Company, Richmond, Virginia.  
After serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II, Caravati returned to earn a business degree from the University of Richmond and then to start Dixie Sporting Goods, which has expanded to three retail and team stores plus a 10,000-square foot team-warehouse operation.  A former Chairman of the Board of the NSGA Board of Directors (1981-82) Caravati also served as an NSGA Director from 1976-83. He is also a Past President of The Sports Foundation, a non-profit subsidiary of NSGA that works with local park and recreation districts to promote sports participation.  In addition, he previously served on the Rawlings Sporting Goods Dealer Advisory Board.  He has contributed greatly to his community by founding the Dixie Coaches Clinics and the Dixie Youth Football clinics, which teach youth good sportsmanship.  

1990 Inductee
Grady Lewis

GRADY W. LEWIS knows basketball, having been an all-conference selection in 1936 and 1937 while playing for Southwestern Oklahoma State University. After graduation, Lewis was selected for the 1940 U.S. Olympic Team and then played professionally from 1946-50 with the Detroit Falcons, St. Louis Bombers and Baltimore Bullets of the Basketball Association of America, a predecessor to today’s NBA. His experience as a player served him well in his business career. Lewis is a former Senior Vice President of Sales & Marketing (now retired) of Converse, Inc., where he developed the oxford basketball shoe and developed a “one-price” policy for Converse’s distribution, which brought order to what at the time was a chaotic period in the retail distribution of basketball products.  He also guided Converse’s advertising and promotional activities, being one of the first to use basketball stars as product endorsers.  Lewis is a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Hall of Fame, is a member of the executive committee – and a trustee of – the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts, and is listed in Who’s Who in Finance & Industry: 1980-Present.  

1991 Inductee
Norman Carron

NORMAN E. CARRON founded Carron Net Company, Inc., in 1934. He was active in the business as president and chairman of the company until his retirement in 1986. In his 53 years at the helm, he directed the design, development and production of the anti-whip basketball net, as well as the development and manufacture of fish camouflage and barrage balloon nets during World War II and the Korean War. The company also supplied volleyball and basketball nets to the Armed Forces during these wars and post-war. Carron nets can be found in many college and university fieldhouses, professional arenas, park districts and school facilities nationwide.   Carron is highly regarded throughout the industry for his customer service. In addition to his professional accomplishments, Carron is a former vice president of the Two Rivers, Wisconsin, Baseball Association, a former United Way chairperson, and a past vice president and director of the First Wisconsin Bank of Two Rivers. 

1991 Inductee
Link Piazzo

LINK PIAZZO, after founding The Sportsman, Inc., with his brother Chet in 1938, became a noted industry expert and advisor on matters related to golf, baseball, firearms and hunting, fishing, and basketball.  He was honored in 1964 by THE SPORTING GOODS DEALER magazine with its prestigious “National Leadership” award.  He was a founding partner of Clossco, the West Coast distributor for adidas, and served as an official timer for the Nevada state basketball tournaments. He also broadcast Nevada-Reno University football and basketball games in the 1940s and ‘50s. He is a past president of NSGA and the Western Sporting Goods Association, and has served the United Way for 19 years and the YMCA for six years. Piazzo also founded the Reno chapter of the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame.  Prior to his involvement in the sporting goods industry, Piazzo was a squadron leader as a captain in the U.S. Air Force. During World War II, he flew 67 bombing missions and earned the Distinguished Flying Cross.  

1992 Inductee
Robert Cherry

BOB CHERRY and Cherry’s Sporting Goods have become synonymous in the western Illinois community of Geneseo, where he has worked since age 15 in what was then his father’s business, which was founded in 1929.  Cherry originated an entirely new segment of the sporting goods industry, the “commemorative gun” concept, in 1961, with the advent of the Geneseo, Illinois 125th Anniversary Derringer, manufactured by Colt’s Firearms. This was the first commemorative gun ever produced.  In the 30 years since that first Geneseo Derringer, commemorative guns have become a billion-dollar industry, providing hundreds of retailers with a new market and profit center. Cherry’s Commemorative Gun List, published bi-monthly, became a “bible” of the commemorative gun business and is still regarded as such among both collectors and retailers. Cherry has served as a consultant to almost every manufacturer of commemorative guns, including Colt, Winchester, Smith & Wesson, Harrington & Richardson, High Standard and others.  He is a self-made success. He went directly from high school into the business world, after a hitch in the Marines during World War II, forgoing college. In 1968, he was named the nation’s No. 1 firearms dealer by The Sporting Goods Dealer and has been listed in “Who’s Who in America” since 1973. He is a former Director and Chairman of the Board of NSGA, past president of The Sports Foundation, Inc., and a member of the American MENSA Society. 

1992 Inductee
Frederick deBeer

FREDERICK S. (FRITZ) DEBEER JR., a Yale (1943) and Harvard Business School (1949) graduate, was president of J. deBeer & Son, Inc., one of the industry’s major manufacturers of baseballs and softballs. More than any other product, deBeer is best known for its Clincher softballs which have become part of the sports cultures in Chicago and New York. Fritz was primarily responsible for the success of this ball through promotion and marketing efforts.  Mr. deBeer managed the family-owned company for more than 40 years and was responsible for many industry milestones including opening the baseball and softball industry’s first off-shore assembly plant in Puerto Rico; introducing its B49 “Small Fry” baseball, which is said to be the first lighter, softer and safer Tee ball produced and marketed in America; and opening the company’s second overseas assembly plant in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, where most of the world’s baseballs are now assembled. In the 1960s, deBeer worked with baseball owner Charles O. Finley to develop the orange-colored baseball and worked to increase its use in youth league play. In the 1980s, Fritz was the most vocal proponent within the sporting goods industry of changing daylight savings time, which was changed by Congress in 1986. Fritz managed two of the longest-running manufacturer-rep relationships in the sporting goods business. Mr. deBeer has been associated with the Ed Simon Company for more than 70 years and with the Arch Billmire Company since 1934.  He was a member of the Small Business & Agricultural Advisory Council, Federal Reserve Bank of New York; a director of Norstar Bank and Norstar Trust Company; and a member of the board of the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association, serving as chairman of the baseball & softball committee. 

1993 Inductee
George W. Hardy

GEORGE W. “BILL” HARDY has been credited with many contributions to the sporting goods industry during his career at Russell Athletic, including:
   Development of various teamwear innovations, including the “tear-away” football jersey.
   Pioneered the process for permanently imprinting names and numbers on jerseys, which he named Russ-Cote.
   In the manufacturing processes, he initiated several innovations in automated sewing, including a continuous belt-type sewing, which is used in sewing plants throughout the world.
   He created the Russell Athletic Bowl, which is held annually for the Pop Warner Football national championships. This organization fosters academic excellence along with the athletic ability of the players.

Hardy also was instrumental in the development of the football pad operation at Russell. He was a member of the SGMA Athletic Clothing Committee to set standards for athletic colors in the athletic clothing industry.  He grew up in Alexander City, Alabama, Russell Athletic’s home city, where he played high school football. He was a scholarship football player (quarterback) at Western Carolina University for two years. After serving four years as a B-29 flight engineer during World War II, Hardy earned his degree in business administration from Western State College, Gunnison, Colorado in 1947, and immediately entered the sporting goods industry with Russell Athletic.  He served in many capacities at Russell, starting as production manager and later as manager of the cutting and sewing plant No. 9. In 1970, he was named vice president of production, and he became vice president and general manager of the Athletic Division in 1971. Hardy was named president of the division in 1983, and in 1983 was named corporate senior vice president of athletic brands. He retired in 1985.  He is a Deacon and trustee of the First Presbyterian Church.

1993 Inductee
Jess Heald

JESS HEALD is still active in the sporting goods industry, serving as chairman of Worth, Inc., in Tullahoma, Tennessee.  His career has focused on baseball and softball, where he holds several patents: 

In 1971, he patented the first one-piece aluminum bat, which proved more economical for youth, high school, college and amateur baseball and softball programs. By 1974, Worth was the largest aluminum bat manufacturer with more than 30 percent of the market.

In 1975, he patented the first polyurethane cores for softballs. This was well suited for the demands of slow-pitch play and created greater durability and consistency of performance.
                                                                               
In 1979, he patented the polyurethane core for baseballs, and in 1984 developed the Reduced Injury Factor (RIF) baseball and softball. The development of the RIF ball led to the establishment of the NOCSAE standard for balls and the creation of a new safety baseball industry.

In 1980, Heald developed the ball liveliness standards that are used today by all major softball associations. He also developed a swing weight standard that offered baseball and softball players a more precise method of determining bat selection.

In 1986, Heald developed the first graphite composite bat in the United States and the manufacturing process that reversed the trend to go offshore for composite structures. He also invented and trademarked the modern batting glove, adapting golf glove and handball glove patterns.

Heald graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1957 with a B.S. degree in general engineering with honors, and he earned his master’s in aerospace engineering in 1964 from the University of Virginia. He also has advanced aerospace engineering credits from the University of Tennessee Space Institute. He was appointed to President George Bush’s New American Schools Development council in 1987 and received special honors from the Boy Scouts of America in 1974 and 1987. Heald served as chairman of the SGMA baseball/softball technical advisory board from 1984-89 and won a meritorious service award in 1992 from the American Baseball Coaches Association.  He was elected a member of the Tullahoma City School Board in 1991, has served as president of the Highland Rim Business Roundtable since 1988 and is active in many other local civic organizations.

1994 Inductee
James L. Easton

JAMES L. EASTON has worked diligently on behalf of the sport of archery since entering the sporting goods business in 1960. He was one of the first commissioners named to the Olympic Games held in Los Angeles, chosen for his business experience and background in archery. He worked full-time for the 1984 Olympics from mid-1983 and was both Archery Commissioner and Mayor of the Athlete’s Olympic Village at UCLA.   His contributions to the International Archery Association (FITA) have been many: He organized the 1983 World Archery Championships in Long Beach, California, was Development and Technical Assistance Committee Chairman and currently serves as FITA President. When he was elected to this position in 1989, FITA had 71 member countries. Today membership totals 100. He also helped develop an exciting new match competition format for Olympic archery in cooperation with Barcelona RTO and NBC.  As part of the 1984 Olympic Games involvement, Easton developed and supports three archery ranges in the Los Angeles area through the Easton Sports Development Foundation. He has sponsored the Olympic Training Center in San Diego and has supported sports in a variety of other ways: through the Communication & Marketing Committee (promotion of archery) and the New Olympic round task force (to develop a format more interesting to archers, spectators and media). This was done in consultation with the heads of NBC Sports & ESPN, and archery was covered for the first time in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics).  There were 71 associates when he became F.I.T.A. President in 1989, and currently there are 93. Mr. Easton developed and supports three archery ranges in the Los Angeles area through the Easton Sports Development Foundation. He has committed $500,000 to the Olympic Training Center in San Diego. He has supported sports in a variety of financial ways such as the I.B.A. Founders Club, NAA Sponsor and has built scoreboards for archery tournaments that are available on loan to tournament organizers.  He was named Executive of the Year by the U.S. Baseball Association in 1986, and in 1988, he was named to the Archery Hall of Fame. He won the ABA Coach’s Honor Award in 1991. In 1989, Mr. Easton was named UCLA Engineering Alumnus of the Year. Other honors include the Gold Plaquette (highest honor) from the International Archery Federation (F.I.T.A.) and Thompson Medal of Honor (highest honor) from the National Archery Association. In addition to his affiliation with F.I.T.A., Mr. Easton was on the International Relations Committee of the U.S. Olympic Committee and a member of the National Archery Association Foundation. In 1991, He served on the Board of Directors of the U.S. Olympic Festival. 

1994 Inductee
Nathan Gart

Since he entered the sporting goods business in 1928, NATHAN GART was active in the industry and in local affairs in his hometown of Denver.  Mr. Gart began his business career selling newspapers and worked his way up to circulation manager of the Denver Times newspaper prior to opening his own store. He founded Gart Brothers Sporting Goods Company, a 25-foot x 75-foot store he started with $500 in savings. He directed growth of the chain to 11 stores throughout Colorado before his death in 1981. He pioneered sporting goods shows within the store for season sports, with factory representatives participating in their own display booths. The Sports Castle store in Denver was one of the country’s first “sporting goods department stores,” a multi-story building with separate departments for different sports.  In the late 1940s and early 50s, he promoted fishing contests for children. In 1954, he began the SNIAGRAB (“bargains” spelled backward) Ski Sale, which has grown into one of the world’s largest pre-season (Labor Day) ski sales.  He served as Chairman of the NSGA Hall of Fame Committee. He was a member of the Denver Chamber of Commerce and Denver Business Bureau.  His community involvement was considerable. He made continuous donations to community service organizations, including Multiple Sclerosis and Underprivileged Youth.  Mr. Gart was a member of many special committees for former Denver Mayor William McNichols. He was a member of the Denver Urban Renewal Authority and a member of the Downtown Denver Improvement Association.  

1994 Inductee
William Modell

WILLIAM D. MODELL is the Chairman of Modell’s Sporting Goods, a 105-year-old family-owned sporting goods retail operation established in 1889, a chain of full-line stores based in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Upon his return from World War II (9th Air Force, 1943-45), Bill Modell and his father Henry, created a veteran’s job training program, which was designed to help train and prepare thousands of young, unskilled and unemployed veterans for futures in the retail field.  The headquarters for this training program was at the Modell’s store located at 280 Broadway. Many of these trainees did (and many still do) work in various parts of the Modell organization. Some of Modell’s finest executives and store managers (some of whom play a prominent role in Modell’s today) went through the training program.  Bill Modell’s contributions to the sporting goods industry are exemplified by his desire and success in taking Modell’s from a handful of stores to a regional chain of more than 50 locations in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The Modell organization now employs more than 1,500 people in three states.  Such growth was accomplished in part by acquiring and revitalizing sporting goods chains in deep financial trouble (Davega in 1963 and Polly Brothers in 1987). In 1955, he founded Modell’s Shoppers World, one of the original mega-discount department store chains.  Bill Modell’s most important contribution to the sporting goods industry is the close relationship he developed and has maintained with:  Sporting goods vendors because of Modell’s industry-admired timely payment policy, helping and encouraging start-up manufacturers and reps with their first purchase orders and seed money;  • Modell customers by traditionally passing on good values and an innovator of customer service; and  • The extensive number of sporting goods salespeople and executives who have been trained by Modell’s and who have then moved on to become some of the most successful entrepreneurs in the industry. He has had a long and distinguished career in philanthropy. He is a founder of the Long Island Chapter of the Young Presidents Organization; a founder of the Crohn & Colitis Foundation of America; a founder of the American Digestive Disease Society; co-founder of the Jeffrey Modell Foundation for Immunological Research and the Gilda Radner Foundation.  He is founder of the Long Island City Business Development Corporation; a founding patron of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts; a founder of the Seawane Country Club; and a member of the Friars Club and The 100-Year Association.  He also has served as Commissioner for the Distinguished Guests Commission for the City of New York by appointment of Mayor Abraham Beame and on the negotiating committee for the Panama Canal Treaty in 1977 under President Jimmy Carter.  Mr. Modell is an alumnus of New York University.

1994 Inductee
William Yarrington

Following World War II, BILL YARRINGTON made a conscious decision to redirect the focus of Yarrington Mills toward the manufacture of trimmings for athletic uniforms. All indications are that he was the first independent manufacturer of trimmings to identify athletics as a significant market, and the company became the largest manufacturer of striped rayon braids for Little League through Major League Baseball.  He established the custom program so that specialty color combinations could be ordered in single small lots, which was essential for team athletic requirements.  In the early 1960s, with the advent of double-knit stretch fabrics, Mr. Yarrington bought his first braid-knitting machine. The Dallas Cowboys wanted a side braid for stretch fabric that was not layered. The Cowboys complained that layered trims were cutting off circulation at the knees.  He worked with Lamb Knitting Machine Co. to develop its first five-stripe knitting machine. Additionally, he expanded the small quantity program to a 36-yard knit program for the sporting goods trade. This allowed team dealers to offer custom striping programs for their customers without a serious delay in shipment.  Mr. Yarrington’s next contribution was stretch-nylon, double-knit fabrics, again in single-piece lots specifically for team requirements. All was done with the highest quality in mind, as he had a genuine interest in the end product and how it was going to perform on the field. Through the years, Mr. Yarrington was directly involved in a number of organizations geared to assisting, improving and working for the athletic industry. For about 15 years, beginning in the 1960s, Mr. Yarrington wrote a column for NSGA in The Sporting Goods Dealer, commenting on athletic uniforms. He obtained his information from dealers, retailers, coaches and other manufacturers.  This was an effort to gain insight as to changes in styling, manufacturing methods and improvements and direction of the industry. It was from these articles he received the nickname “Mr. Braid.” Mr. Yarrington was an active member of the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association and was on the committee that established the SGMA color standards.  Throughout his career, Mr. Yarrington has continued to pursue the highest standards for himself, his company and the industry, which it serves. His focus on the athletic industry, specifically on quality team uniforms, helped to establish numerous innovations for trims and fabric and also for methods of servicing the industry.  Mr. Yarrington is a 1940 graduate of the University of Miami, Fla. He is a past member of the Board of Directors of Pop Warner Football. In addition to his membership in NSGA and SGMA, he was a member of the Athletic Institute and the Northern Textile Association. He also is active in church affairs.

1995 Inductee
John Moses Brunswick

JOHN MOSES BRUNSWICK, founder 150 years ago of the company that ultimately became known as Brunswick Corporation, is the only person whose name has become synonymous with not one, but two, of the world’s major sports – billiards and bowling.  A Swiss immigrant woodworker, Mr. Brunswick launched his fledgling company in 1845 by manufacturing his – and America’s – first billiards table.
Moreover, the words Brunswick and bowling have been virtually interchangeable among sports enthusiasts worldwide for more than a century. The company he founded has continued to evolve into the most recognizable name in bowling.
Within two years of the introduction of his first billiards table, orders were arriving from across the country. His tables were outrageously ornate by today’s standards, but the best of them could be called works of art.
Sensing the need to expand the company, he sent for his half-brothers from Switzerland, and as early as 1848, a sales office was established in Chicago.  As John Brunswick’s company grew, it underwent several name changes. By 1884, after successive mergers with Julius Balke’s Great Western Billiard Manufactory and Hugh Collender’s Phelan & Collender Company, it had become the Brunswick-Balke-Collender Company (a name it retained until becoming Brunswick Corporation in 1960).  Over the years, Brunswick has grown and diversified within the sports and recreation business. The Brunswick family currently includes such well-known names as Mercury engines, Bayliner and Sea Ray boats, Zebco fishing tackle and Brunswick Golf; and at one time, MacGregor also was among its members.  Among its many distinguishing characteristics, Mr. Brunswick’s company has been one of NSGA’s most loyal and long-standing supporters. In that regard, 1992 marked a significant milestone, the 50th consecutive year that Brunswick was an exhibitor at NSGA trade shows.  This year’s Hall of Fame induction ceremonies are an especially timely tribute to Mr. Brunswick, coinciding as they do with the 150th anniversary of his company’s founding. Already recognized as the oldest continuously independent public company in Chicago, the arrival of its 150th year was recently honored by the Illinois State Historical Society, which presented Brunswick with the very first Sesquicentennial Business Award the society has ever conferred.  Mr. Brunswick’s achievements continued to be recognized in modern times, even though he has been gone for more than a century (he died in 1886). He was admitted to the Billiard Congress Hall of Fame in 1990.

1995 Inductee
Clifford Dickman

CLIFF DICKMAN currently serves as president of Kesslers Sport Shop, Inc., in Richmond, Ind. After Cliff purchased the business from Phillip “Whitey” Kessler in 1957, sales in this single location were approximately $100,000 per year. With one full-time salesman calling on area schools, the business steadily grew.    In 1983, a second store was opened in Richmond. In 1985, Kessler purchased a store in Fort Wayne, Ind. In 1987, Kesslers purchased one store in Indianapolis. In 1989, Kesslers purchased one store in Kokomo, Ind. In 1992, Kesslers purchased one store in Terre Haute, Ind., and opened a cycling and fitness store in Richmond in 1993, bringing the total to seven stores in five cities.  The team sales division has six full-time salesmen, covering approximately half of Indiana. There is also one full-time salesperson in the corporate sales division. Kesslers employs approximately 70 people.  Kesslers Sport Shop, Inc., is still family owned and operated. Cliff and his wife Martha Jane still work many hours per week. Sons Bob and Phil are active in the business, as is a son-in-law. Cliff and Martha Jane have eight children and 18 grandchildren.
Cliff was a high school football official for 36 years and a basketball and track official for 20 years. He officiated three Indiana state football championship games. From 1992-94, Cliff participated in the Indiana State Park Games and won the gold medal in the shot put in the 60-and-over age division each year. He also played and coached in an “old-timers” basketball tournament, which his team won three years in a row.    Cliff has been president of the local Boys Club and a Director for 23 years, past president of the local Kiwanis Club, past president of the Downtown Merchants Association, Mayor of Richmond for two terms, County Commissioner for three terms, past president of the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns, member of Holy Family Church, former Director of local Jaycees, was chosen Boss of the Year by the American Business Women’s Association (1980) and Boy Scout board member for 23 years. He is a 1953 graduate of Earlham College, where he is the only athlete to earn 16 varsity letters, 4 each in football, basketball, baseball and track. He was inducted into the Earlham College Athletic Hall of fame in 1992.  

1995 Inductee
E. Claude Manning

E. CLAUDE MANNING, a native of Ft. Worth, Texas, is the founder and retired Chairman Emeritus of the Board of Nation’s Best Sports, formerly known as the National Buying Syndicate, one of the world’s largest sporting goods buying organizations, with more than 665 stores in 47 states, which contributes close to $2 billion to retail business annually. Manning, a major in the Air Force in World War II, was in the war surplus business from 1946 to 1956, when he founded the National Buying Syndicate in Fort Worth with eight stores in three states and served as its president for many years. He also was founder and president of Manning’s Sports Centers, a six-store retail operation, for 30 years.  He served two terms on the NSGA Board of Directors, is a former bank director, past Exalted Ruler of the Elks, is a former amateur radio operator and is a Mason and Shriner. He is listed in Who’s Who in Commerce and Industry and Who’s Who in the South and Southwest. Manning has received awards from the Governors of Louisiana and Kentucky as well as from Mayors of Louisville, Ky., and Fort Worth for his leadership of the National Buying Syndicate. In 1929, he graduated with honors from Texas Christian University, where he was president of his class. A scholarship has been established in his name. He is one of the founders and an officer in the Alumni Club.  He has been honored by the Sportsman’s Club of Fort Worth and Ducks Unlimited. He was honored by The Sporting Goods Dealer with its Spinks Leadership Award, “for services of the highest order to the sporting goods industry.”  Manning, 87 at the time of his induction, has been in merchandising/retailing for more than 65 years. He and his wife have been married for 62 years and have three daughters and four granddaughters.  His legacy to the sporting goods industry is his original vision to form a buying group many years ago to concentrate buying power and the exchange of merchandising ideas among independent sporting goods retailers. Today, buying groups are an accepted fact. When Mr. Manning started NBS in 1956, this was an original, new idea that required years of hard work before group buying became recognized as a major part of the sporting goods industry.  Many small retailers who have joined buying groups owe their success to the vision of this man. Those who have known and worked with him over the years have been enriched by his impeccable character, high integrity, vision and warmth.

1996 Inductee
Ben Pearson

When BEN PEARSON (1898-1971) was a young man in Little Rock, Ark., he read a Boy Scout article by Dan Beard that gave instruction on how to make a bow. Using a piece of hickory and a drawknife, he patterned his first bow. This one simple project became Pearson’s passion and would eventually lead to the industry’s first mass production of archery sets beginning in the late 1930s.  After opening a small shop in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, in 1932, Pearson and two helpers began making bows and arrows. His dream was to mass produce affordable archery tackle. A short time later, Pearson met Oklahoma oilman Carl Haun, who recognized Pearson’s talents and advanced him $10,000 to equip the kind of plant needed to begin mass production of archery sets.  The first real factory for the newly formed Ben Pearson, Inc. was an old brick sorghum mill. Pearson engineered, designed and patented most of the machinery to mass produce the first archery tackle. He then innovated the molded fiberglass bow that was sturdy and economical, because it was produced on multiple presses many times faster than wood or laminated bows.  Within a few years, the sign over the building read, “World’s Largest Manufacturer of Bows and Arrows of Excellence.” The facility had grown to 10 buildings, employing more than 260 people. By 1945, archery sales had reached a peak of $1.7 million, and the number of employees had grown to more than 600.  Ben Pearson and his dreams of mass producing archery gear eventually brought archery to the every-day consumer through stores like Sears & Roebuck, the neighborhood variety store, sporting goods stores and general merchandise stores. Pearson tackle was also introduced in Europe, Australia, New Zealand and China.  His interest in developing archery equipment continued over the years. Other products included the “Dead Head” broadhead, target and blunt points, fishing points/arrows and various take-down bows, including his last, a customized three-piece take-down designed from his Bush Master line.  Often referred to as the “father of the modern archery movement,” Pearson is credited with designing or directing the development and application of archery manufacturing machines, including the wing trimmer, splice machine, barrel shaft sanding machine, handle wrapper, tiller machine, bow sander, cresting machine, knurling machine and target machines.  His love of archery and bow hunting was as apparent in the design and production of archery tackle as it was in the area of promotion. Pearson’s outgoing personality and gifted shooting skills made him a favorite at competitive events and exhibitions. He traveled the U.S., Mexico and Canada to promote archery through films, hunts and exhibitions. Called the “master of the moving target,” he shot for audiences from 10 to thousands, including TV viewers, civic groups and the Boy Scouts. In two of his famous hunts, Pearson was filmed shooting an 800-pound grizzly bear and a short time later, a 1,500 pound polar bear. At that time, both bears were the largest ever taken with a bow and arrow. Ben Pearson had many diversified interests beyond archery. He was on the Pine Bluff school board, active in the Rotary Club and was on the Salvation Army board of directors. He also was involved with the successful development and manufacture of cotton harvesting machines that were widely distributed around the world.
Pearson’s appreciation of history and architecture was expressed through his support of restoring a block of homes in Pine Bluff, where four of the homes now are on the National Register of Historic Places. Ben was a recipient of the Chief Compton Medal, the highest award given by the National Field Archery Association. He also received a national award from the American Legion Roll of Honor for Industry. In 1972, Pearson was inducted posthumously into the National Archery Hall of Fame, and in 1992 was inducted into the Arkansas Outdoor Sportsman’s Hall of Fame. In 1995, he was inducted into the National Bowhunters Hall of Fame.

1996 Inductee
Leonard Steinlauf

LEN STEINLAUF started his sporting goods career working part-time while attending high school and college. His early days included stock work, sweeping and errands at Herman’s a two-store “chain” with locations on Nassau Street and 42nd Street, both in Manhattan. After graduation from New York University’s School of Commerce and Retailing in 1947, Len joined his father Edward and uncle Herman Steinlauf at Herman’s, primarily spending his time selling on the floor and as an apprentice assistant buyer.  In the period from 1916-1948, Herman’s was one of many sports retailers in New York City, where the old Davega chain was the most prominent player. In 1949, at the urging of young Leonard and with great resistance from Dad and uncle, Herman’s started to promote in the New York papers with half- and full-page ads, a great departure from the norm at that time.  The immediate results were phenomenal – a quiet retailer became the major force in the New York City market by 1955. Len, by that time, was buying and merchandising all categories except guns and tackle, as well as supervising the two retail stores.  In 1957, Herman’s moved across 42nd Street to a location almost three times larger than the old store. It was by far the largest sports store in New York and won the Sporting Goods Dealer’s Retailer of the Year Award in 1965. Volume in the two stores exceeded $3 million, certainly a gigantic number at that time for two stores.  The New York business continued to prosper, and Len Steinlauf was elevated to the role of Chief Operating Officer and General Merchandise Manager in 1966. In the fall of 1967, Herman’s became a three-store chain with the opening of a 20,000 square foot store in Paramus, N.J., which at that time was perhaps the largest sporting goods store in the nation and was the forerunner of today’s “big box” stores.  Paramus was an immediate raging success, and Herman’s had discovered the suburbs. Some of the innovations in Paramus set the stage for the mega-stores of today. Steinlauf felt that the suburbs would draw droves of women shoppers, and with this in mind, a woman store designer was hired to do the plan.  Design features such as carpeted floors, separate men’s and women’s dressing rooms and special lighting were included in the design plan, along with special graphics and colors never before used in a sports store. Paramus had a 1990s look in 1967, and dealers from America and around the world came to see this revolutionary “new look.”  Several years before Paramus opened, Herman’s media plan expanded from newsprint into radio and then television. They became one of the most prominent sports retailers in the country and caught the eye of W.R. Grace and Company. Grace purchased the $12 million Herman’s chain in 1970 and immediately embarked on a tremendous expansion plan, spearheaded by Len Steinlauf.  By 1978, when Steinlauf, then CEO, resigned, Herman’s had 65 stores doing a volume of more than $100 million in nine states and Washington, D.C.  Steinlauf is still active in the industry, consulting for retailers and manufacturers.  

1997 Inductee
Jim Davis

Through determination and perseverance, often against the advice of others, JIM DAVIS succeeded in selling the idea that athletic footwear in widths could be good business.  This has resulted in a long-term growth opportunity for the company and its retail partners and in better fitting and better performing shoes for millions of consumers.  Today, New Balance is the only performance athletic footwear company to offer its entire footwear line in two or more widths.  With similar determination, Jim championed USA-based manufacturing during a period when practically the entire industry shifted sourcing to low-wage developing countries. 
Today, about two-thirds of the company’s output is produced in domestic factories.  Jim’s high level of personal integrity sets the tone for all company transactions. The New Balance mission statement captures his personal philosophy in the following words: “Our mission is to be recognized as the world’s leading manufacturer of high performance footwear. We support this mission by conducting our internal and external relationships according to the core values of teamwork, total customer satisfaction and integrity.”  Jim translates this mission into daily practice through constant contact with the company’s retail partners, suppliers and associates.  

1997 Inductee
George Godfrey

Perhaps the most important contribution to the sporting goods industry of GEORGE (BUD) GODFREY was that he approached the industry from many directions, each time rising to the top and influencing others on his way. He brought new product technologies and innovations to a growing industry. He was an early pioneer in taking U.S. sporting goods products to the Asian and European markets, thus expanding U.S. product distribution.  As president of AMF Voit, Bud was at the helm of a company that grew from $10 million to $100 million during his 10-year stay in the 1960s.  Through his leadership, the company pioneered the technical innovation of “investment casting process” for golf irons, which is now commonplace in the industry.  Bud was co-founder and chairman of Pre Skis. He worked with K2 Skis, Smith ski goggles, Hansen ski boots, Prince tennis racquets, and Easton baseball bats in expanding their distribution to foreign markets.  He received the Sporting Goods Dealer Leadership Award for his efforts. Bud became an importer and co-founded Mikasa Sports, introducing the Mikasa athletic ball line to the U.S.  Most importantly, Bud loved the industry. He just couldn’t stay away. One year after retiring, he stepped back into the industry and helped with the formation of a new licensed apparel manufacturer, Front Pages Co. A 1943 graduate of Colby College, he was on the varsity football and tennis teams there. During his service in the Navy, he was decorated with the Bronze Star, Silver Star, Purple Heart and Presidential Letter of Commendation. He was a member of NSGA, SGMA, Ski Industries America (SIA) and the Athletic Institute.  

1998 Inductee
Paul Fireman

In 1979, PAUL FIREMAN secured the U.S. distribution rights to three running shoes produced by the British company, Reebok International Ltd. Reebok was the successor company to the venerable J.W. Foster & Sons, custom maker of athletic footwear since the 1890s.  Fireman introduced the first women’s athletic shoe (for aerobics) in 1982, spurring a revolution in fitness and fashion wear that made Reebok one of the fastest growing companies of all time. The company’s sales grew from $13 million in 1982 to $1.8 billion in 1988. Sales in 1996 approximated $3.5 billion.  Fireman bought out the parent company in 1984 and arranged the first public offering of stock in 1985. Under his leadership, the company expanded rapidly in Europe and throughout the world. The Reebok brand is now available in approximately 140 countries.   In 1992, Reebok, primarily a fitness brand, ventured into untapped sports categories such as baseball, football and soccer, challenging well entrenched competitors. Reebok now has growing businesses in these and other new categories and a reputation as an authentic sports brand among young people around the world. Some 3,000 athletes competed in the 1996 Olympic Games wearing Reebok footwear or apparel.  Fireman has identified his company strongly with the human rights movement through sponsorship since 1988 of the Reebok Human Rights Award, honoring young people around the world who risk their lives in the cause of human freedom. Through 1998, 56 individuals from 28 countries have been honored.  In 1994, Fireman and Reebok received the Human Rights Award of the Lawyers Committee on Human Rights. In 1993, Reebok instituted a formal diversity management program, involving educational sessions and recruitment of minorities and women for decision-making positions and employee action teams.  Before purchasing Reebok, Fireman was an officer in an outdoor sports distributorship owned by his family. He attended Boston University and is a graduate of Tabor Academy. Paul and his wife, Phyllis, live in Newton, Mass., and have three children.

1998 Inductee
Johnny Morris

JOHNNY MORRIS, President of Bass Pro Shops and subsidiary companies, is a native of Springfield, Mo. Upon graduation from Drury College in 1970, he founded the company based on ideas gleaned from years spent fishing this country’s lakes and streams.  Bass Pro Shops ranks among the leading retailers in our industry. The success of this retail and mail order catalog business is well documented. Merchandising in this field was second nature to John. Having taken nearly every freshwater game fish native to North America, and with many saltwater species to his credit, he has acquired an easy familiarity with the equipment and the inclinations of the outdoorsman.  In earlier times, before his business required his full attention, John not only fished for fun, but also regularly fished the Bass Angler Sportsman’s Society (B.A.S.S.) tournament tour. He was one of just 24 anglers to qualify for the B.A.S.S. Masters Classic, the world bass fishing championship, and he did this five years in a row.  Morris is recognized as much for being a conservationist as for being a successful retailer. 

1999 Inductee
Floyd Huff

A Midwesterner, FLOYD HUFF started his career as a salesmen at a Kinney shoe store in 1960, was promoted to assistant manager in 1961 and store manager the following year. He managed five different stores in Illinois and Indiana, posting sales and profit gains in each. In 1972, he was promoted to District Manager. In 1976, Huff was promoted to Director of Foot Locker, at which time there were four stores. His responsibility was to develop and expand the fledgling chain, and he did so, running the company from his home for the first year and a half.  In 1977, Huff moved to Foot Locker’s home office in New York and was promoted to General Manager, with total responsibility for all aspects of the company, including real estate, marketing, personnel, P&L and buying budgets.  In 1980, he was named vice president and General Manager, and in 1982 he spearheaded the opening of Lady Foot Locker.  In 1989, Huff was involved in the acquisition of Champs and later that year Robby’s. Also in 1989, Huff opened the European market for Foot Locker with the acquisition of the eight-store Pro Sport chain, which was re-named Foot Locker.  In 1990, he was named executive vice president of retail with responsibility for Foot Locker USA, Lady Foot Locker, Champs, Kids Foot Locker, Kinney Shoes, Footquarters and Foot Locker Europe. The company had 2,400 stores and more than $2 billion in sales.  Huff served on the NSGA Board of Directors for eight years and was Chairman in 1992-93. 

1999 Inductee
Fob James, Jr.

The birth and growth of Diversified Products into a major force in fitness equipment manufacturing can be traced directly to FOB JAMES, JR. and the late CAL JAMES, SR.  The company was founded in November of 1961 by Fob James, Jr. with an investment of $31,000 from 13 East Alabama businessmen to pursue the idea of developing, manufacturing and marketing plastic covered barbell sets. These sets, called “Orbatron Barbells,” were introduced at the 1964 NSGA show in Chicago, and sales that year were less than $500,000. That also was the year that Cal joined his brother in the company. By 1966, DP had become the largest manufacturer of barbell sets in the world with annual sales of approximately $10 million and operated plants in Alabama and California, employing approximately 400 people. In 1967, DP expanded its product lines to include a broad array of home fitness products, table tennis tables and basketball goals and backboards. Also in 1967, the company acquired a leading pool table manufacturer. By 1969, the company’s sales reached $20 million with nearly 700 employees.  In 1978, Fob James, Jr. was elected Governor of Alabama, and upon Fob’s resignation from DP, Cal was named President, CEO and Board Chairman. By 1980, annual sales exceeded $100 million, with more than 1,200 employees. Sales passed the $200 million mark in 1984.  Cal led the company as it reached its peak in 1987 with sales of $260 million and more than 3,000 employees. He retired from DP in 1991 and purchased an auto dealership, which he served as president until his death in 1996 at age 59.  Cal James also served as vice chairman of the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association.  Fob James is the only governor in Alabama history to be elected twice, first as a Democrat and later as a Republican. He left public service after the 1998 election.

1999 Inductee
Cal James, Sr.

The birth and growth of Diversified Products into a major force in fitness equipment manufacturing can be traced directly to FOB JAMES, JR. and the late CAL JAMES, SR.  The company was founded in November of 1961 by Fob James, Jr. with an investment of $31,000 from 13 East Alabama businessmen to pursue the idea of developing, manufacturing and marketing plastic covered barbell sets. These sets, called “Orbatron Barbells,” were introduced at the 1964 NSGA show in Chicago, and sales that year were less than $500,000. That also was the year that Cal joined his brother in the company. By 1966, DP had become the largest manufacturer of barbell sets in the world with annual sales of approximately $10 million and operated plants in Alabama and California, employing approximately 400 people. In 1967, DP expanded its product lines to include a broad array of home fitness products, table tennis tables and basketball goals and backboards. Also in 1967, the company acquired a leading pool table manufacturer. By 1969, the company’s sales reached $20 million with nearly 700 employees.  In 1978, Fob James, Jr. was elected Governor of Alabama, and upon Fob’s resignation from DP, Cal was named President, CEO and Board Chairman. By 1980, annual sales exceeded $100 million, with more than 1,200 employees. Sales passed the $200 million mark in 1984.  Cal led the company as it reached its peak in 1987 with sales of $260 million and more than 3,000 employees. He retired from DP in 1991 and purchased an auto dealership, which he served as president until his death in 1996 at age 59.  Cal James also served as vice chairman of the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association.  Fob James is the only governor in Alabama history to be elected twice, first as a Democrat and later as a Republican. He left public service after the 1998 election.

2000 Inductee
Ed Horner

ED HORNER’S connection to sports and the sporting goods industry began as a teen, when he served as equipment manager for the University of Mississippi football team in the late 1940s.  His first job after college was with the York Arms Company in Memphis, where he worked for 12 years.  He also served as a sales rep for Rawlings Sporting Goods for nine years.  Ed returned to Memphis and opened All American Sporting Goods on April 1, 1968.  His business served high schools, colleges and professional sports teams.  “We’ve sold them all, except ice hockey,” Horner said in a recent newspaper interview. “We sold all of them that we set out to sell.”  All American serves schools within a 125-mile radius of Memphis with 22 employees who have a combined experience of 120 years in the sporting goods industry.  He served two terms on the NSGA Board of Directors.  

2000 Inductee
Kenjiro Mizuno

KENJIRO MIZUNO, the second son of Rihachi Mizuno, the founder of Mizuno Corporation, entered the company as director in May 1942, serving as vice president (1947), president (1969) and chairman (1988).  Mr. Mizuno was extremely active in Japanese and international sports and sporting goods activities.  From 1970-1991, he served as chairman of the All Japan Golf Goods Association.  He was chairman of the Federation of Japan Sporting Goods Commerce & Industry (1970-1980).  In 1977, he established the Mizuno International Sports Exchange Foundation at his own expense to contribute to the global development in amateur sports. He was awarded the “Olympic Order” (silver) from the International Olympic Committee in 1985.  One of his product innovations was adding carbon fiber, which had been unknown in those days, to golf clubs, baseball bats, skis and tennis rackets.  He concentrated his energy on developing new products based on scientific knowledge. When he became president of Mizuno Corporation in 1969, he established Mizuno USA. He also began a global marketing strategy that included sending female professional golfers to the U.S. tours to use Mizuno golf products.  

2000 Inductee
Ralph Parks

RALPH PARKS has dedicated most of his professional life to the sporting goods industry.  After 12 years with the Kinney Shoe Corporation, where he began his career in 1967 as a store manager, Parks left his position as director of women’s merchandise to become a district manager at Foot Locker.  He became the first Foot Locker district manager to gain $4 million in comp store sales in one year, and his region had operating profits of more than 19.5%.  By 1983 he had risen to regional sales vice president at Foot Locker, where he was responsible for $250 million in sales volume. He left the company in 1987 to join FOOTACTION USA, then a 48-store chain with $32 million in annual sales.  In less than five years, Parks helped FOOTACTION increase its store count by 80 stores and increase its sales volume by $60 million.  In 1991, he was named the second president in FOOTACTION history, succeeding founder Charles S. Cristol.  Today, FOOTACTION is a $650 million, 570-store chain.   Parks was a two-term Chairman of NSGA’s Board of Directors and a lifetime member and former director of the Two/Ten International Footwear Foundation.  He retired from FOOTACTION in 1999 and was appointed to the Board of Directors of e-tailer Fogdog.Com. 

2001 Inductee
Bob Gore

A 1969 discovery by engineer BOB GORE revolutionized the outerwear industry. The versatile polymer he discovered was introduced to consumers in 1976 as GORE-TEX® fabric, the first breathable waterproof fabric. Prior to Bob’s discovery, rainwear had been woefully inadequate for people active outdoors. Because waterproof fabrics did not breathe, wearers got wet from the inside out, even when it wasn’t raining. That spirit of invention has continued unabated at W. L. Gore & Associates, Inc., the company Bob led as president from 1976 to April 2000. At Gore, ensuring comfort means a highly technical approach to fabric performance, and product development has generated a family of high-performance fabrics. All Gore fabric garments and footwear are the products of extensive research and development, and they are backed up by rigorous in-use and quality tests.  The GORE-TEX® Partners in Performance program, begun in 1989, is a primary example of that emphasis on product integrity. Only quality manufacturers who adhere to stringent design and production standards may manufacture GORE-TEX® outerwear. Gore guarantees the performance of all finished GORE-TEX® outerwear, not just the GORE-TEX® fabrics from which the finished product is made. The result is that cyclists, hunters, back packers, sailors and skiers — even people who challenge the world’s highest peaks and most extreme weather conditions — know they can rely on GORE-TEX® outerwear for durable comfort and protection.  Bob, who holds nine patents, received his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Delaware and his master’s and doctorate degrees from the University of Minnesota. He currently serves as chairman of Gore’s board of directors.  

2001 Inductee
Wally Smith

WALLY SMITH served as President and CEO of Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI) for 17 years before retiring in February 2000. Since Smith began his career in 1965, REI has grown from one store with 33 employees to a national retailer with 60 retail stores and more than 6,000 employees today. Sales increased from $1.3 million in 1965 to more than $600 million in 1999.    Smith oversaw REI’s early move into e-commerce in 1996 and the nationally recognized innovative design of the REI Seattle flagship store with its 65-foot climbing pinnacle and other interactive features. He also directed REI’s first international venture into Japan and the construction of REI’s newest flagship store in Denver. Both of these projects were completed in 2000. Smith’s REI career began in 1965 when he joined the company’s mailroom as a part-time clerk. By the time Smith had achieved REI’s top position in 1983, he had worked under all three of the company’s presidents, including founder Lloyd Anderson, Jim Whittaker and Jerry Horn.  In 1971, Smith graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in Business Administration and joined REI full time. During his 35 years at REI, Smith has served in various positions, including vice president of operations, director of retailing, manager of distribution, store manager and buyer. 

2002 Inductee
Delby Clare Humphrey

A lifelong resident of Indiana, the late DEL HUMPHREY served as president of both Schutt Manufacturing and McMillan Sporting Goods until his retirement from McMillan in 1968. He became associated with McMillan Sporting Goods in 1936 at the time when the first wire-form football face-guard was being devised by Purdue University athletic trainer Lou Mann and patented by Vern McMillan. Del acquired Schutt Manufacturing Company in 1962. From 1964-72, Del devised and was issued four mechanical and two design U.S. patents on improved types of football face-guards and means of attachment to football helmets. He also invented and was issued a mechanical patent on an improved means of attaching a net to a basketball goal, as well as having several trademarks registered in his name. Del was a two-way lineman for Indiana State University’s football team and didn’t miss a game in three years. He was Student Council and Class President. He stayed in his hometown of Terre Haute and served as president of local youth baseball and football organizations. He was on the original Boards of Directors for both the Indiana Basketball and Indiana Football Halls of Fame. He was inducted into the Indiana Football Hall of Fame in the second class in 1974 and was a charter member of the Indiana State University Athletic Hall of Fame in 1982. 

2002 Inductee
Ralph Lafferty

RALPH F. LAFFERTY made his first mark in the sporting goods industry with a Tulsa-based company whose fishing tackle business was a sideline to its primary mission as a supplier to the oil industry. That company was Zebco, and Lafferty served as Eastern Sales and Export Manager from 1952-55. He served as Vice President of Marketing, Executive Vice President, and General Manager and eventually President of Zebco, and he negotiated the sale of the company to Brunswick Corporation. He was a Vice President of Brunswick from 1967-77. As Zebco President (1961-67), he broadened the company’s tackle lines, and in 1967 was named President of Brunswick’s Consumer Division, responsible for 1,200 employees at 10 factories and such brands as MacGregor Sports Products, Union Hardware, Red Head hunting and fishing products, Ben Pearson Archery, and Brunswick Billiards. From 1971-77, he served as President of Brunswick’s Zebco division, and in 1977, he resigned presidency of Zebco to accept the challenge of turnaround possibilities offered by Garcia Corp. As President & CEO of Garcia (1977-78), he reorganized the $43 million company and in 1978 resigned that position to devote his full time and effort to the Abu-Garcia Tackle Company (1978-79). He served as President of Fenwick/Woodstream (1979-80), reorganizing the management team and returning the company to profitability. Since 1980, he has served as a consultant and has served as a volunteer in the former Czechoslovakia, Costa Rica and the Czech Republic with the International Executive Service Corps. Lafferty is a Silver Star recipient for his service in World War II and has received many industry and civic honors, including the Fishing Hall of Fame. 

2002 Inductee
David Lando

DAVID LANDO opened his first sporting goods store – Olympic Sports Center – in Pittsburgh in 1963. After brainstorming with close friend Ralph Libonati, then the Eastern distributor for adidas, he came up with the idea of creating a shoe store dedicated to athletic shoes. He had been re-ordering Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars and adidas Superstar models more frequently and in greater quantities. Next, he pursued a location and worked on the design, all during the fall of 1970. He brought his son Michael and other family members into the discussion, and generally, the reaction was encouraging. According to Michael, the inspiration for the name The Athlete’s Foot came at 4:00 a.m., when David woke up and said to his wife, “I know, we will call it The Athlete’s Foot.” Brother Robert Lando’s successful advertising agency created the logos, the grand opening ad and the strategy to run teaser ads  like, “Pittsburgh is getting The Athlete’s Foot…you’ll love it!” prior to the grand opening. That first store opened on February 1, 1971. To set the store apart, the store stocked some “oddball” styles, such as adidas javelin boots. The store’s success was immediate and overwhelming. Hardly anybody who heard about The Athlete’s Foot believed that it had started in Pittsburgh. In June of 1972, the first franchised store opened in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. With Michael’s assistance, David sold franchises for 24 stores, and then sold the franchising business to Bob, who developed the chain nationally and internationally. 

2002 Inductee
Robert Lando

Early in the 1970s, the Lando family, owners of a sporting goods store in Pittsburgh, noticed that athletic shoe sales were becoming a major portion of their overall business. David Lando, active founder of The Athlete’s Foot, believed that the time was right for stores specializing solely in the sale of athletic footwear and related apparel. The first store opened in Pittsburgh in 1971. Dave Lando’s brother ROBERT (BOB) LANDO, then owner of a successful advertising agency in Pittsburgh, suggested the name The Athlete’s Foot, and in 1972, the first franchise was sold. Under the guidance and vision of Bob Lando, The Athlete’s Foot expanded into major metropolitan areas across the United States. As the athletic footwear business grew, so did The Athlete’s Foot. With the franchise boom that occurred in the United States, along with the rapid growth of the footwear industry, The Athlete’s Foot was an unqualified success. The company went international when a franchising agreement was signed for Australia in 1978. In the early 1980s, under Bob Lando’s leadership, the company adopted a new high-tech image for its stores, targeting the fashion-conscious customer as well as the technical customer who had come to depend on The Athlete’s Foot for its footwear expertise. This was reflected with the slogan, “Nobody knows the athlete’s foot like The Athlete’s Foot.”  In 1984, French company Rallye, S.A. purchased the company from the Lando family. Under the Lando family leadership, The Athlete’s Foot grew to more than 475 units in 46 states, Japan and Australia, 375 of which were franchised and 100 company owned and operated. The chain reached a volume of $300 million.

2002 Inductee
Curt Mueller

When CURT MUELLER began his career as a registered pharmacist at his father’s drug store in 1960, the sports medicine category had not yet become as important as it is today. As a former varsity basketball player at the University of Wisconsin, Curt saw the need for raising the standards of the training room supplies being sold to schools at the time. Within a few years, he had already created his own company, coined the phrase “sports medicine” and begun his lifelong dedication to this cause. With a national sales force in place and solid reputation in athletic departments across the country, Mueller worked to expand the scope of his company’s products to international markets. Among his inventions and product developments was Quench® Gum in the mid-1970s. In 1984, the company introduced a complete line of patented sport braces and neoprene supports. Then came a revolutionary step in the development of the sports medicine category. Mueller decided to offer the same state-of-the-art products to the “weekend warrior” that professional and campus athletes had been using for years. He was the first to introduce point-of-purchase SPORT CARE® packaging for its entire line, literally creating sports medicine departments at the retail level. The “Planogram Retail Sport Care®” concept brought sports medicine from “store room” status to the front of the store and allowed retailers to merchandise the maximum amount of products in a minimum amount of space. Mueller’s “Mini-Max” inventory control service, retail challenge videos and seminars to train store clerks how to effectively sell sports medicine, helped jump-start the category. Curt’s energy and devotion to the sports medicine business has led to numerous registered trademarks and more than 20 patents. 

2003 Inductee
Gertrude Boyle

GERTRUDE BOYLE is the spirited matriarch and chairwoman of the board of the international outdoor apparel and footwear manufacturer Columbia Sportswear Company. Hailed by Working Woman magazine as one of “America’s Top 50 Women Business Owners,” Mrs. Boyle is the center of Columbia’s irreverent, award-winning advertising campaign. She protrays cantankerous “Mother Boyle,” the overbearing taskmaster who enforces Columbia’s demanding quality standards. This campaign earned Columbia the coveted Marketing innovation award at the 1997 Super Show, an international sporting goods and apparel trade show. Mrs. Boyle has been a part of Columbia Sportswear since her father founded Columbia Hat Company in 1938.  Throughout her teens, she helped with the family business.  She then attended the University of Arizona, and earned a degree in sociology in 1947.  While at college she met her future husband, Neal Boyle, whom she married in 1948. When Mrs. Boyle’s father died in 1964, Neal took over the helm of the growing company.  Just six years later, in 1970, at the age of 47, Neal Boyle died unexpectedly of a heart attack. He left three children, an expanding company leaning heavily on bank loans, and a wife whose previous experiences with finances was her monthly ritual of throwing all the bills across the living room and paying the one that flew the farthest. Mrs. Boyle soon discovered that running the family’s million-dollar sportswear company might be a little different. Two years later, the bankers decided it was time for Mrs. Boyle and her son Tim to sell the business. When she sat down with the perspective buyer and realized she would only make $1,400 off the sale, Mrs. Boyle told him, “For that kind of money, I’ll run the company into the ground myself”.  That was 31 years ago. Since Mrs. Boyle and Tim have been running the company, Columbia Sportswear Company has gone from bankruptcy to become one of the largest outerwear manufacturers and the leading seller of skiwear in the United States.  Columbia’s sales have soared from $12.9 million in 1984 to $615 million in 2000, and the company continues to forge ahead with product diversification and innovation.Throughout her career, Mrs. Boyle has been a leader in the Portland community. The areas’s deep respect for her was exemplified in 1997 when the prestigious University of Portland bestowed an honorary doctorate on the then 74-year-old grandmother of five.  Mrs. Boyle has received many other honors recognizing her business savvy and philanthropic endeavors.

2003 Inductee
Jake Burton Carpenter

JAKE BURTON CARPENTER has dedicated the past 25 years of his life to snowboarding. In 1977, Jake founded Burton Snowboards in South Londonderry, Vermont — an event that is generally recognized as the birth of modern day snowboarding.  From a Vermont barn, Jake created a sport, an industry and a lifestyle. Through the years, Jake has played a vital role in transitioning snowboarding from a backyard hobby to a world-class sport.  Deemed the “Father of Snowboarding.”  Jake just sees himself as someone who loves to ride. His goal is to snowboard over 100 days a year. By supporting a Global Team of the world’s top snowboarders, including five Olympic Medallists, Burton Snowboards has fueled the growth of snowboarding worldwide.  The company’s support and development of successful programs like Learn To Ride (LTR), The Chill Foundation and the U.S. Open Snowboarding Championships have also contributed to snowboarding’s tremendous growth and exposure over the years. The company received the National Ski & Snowboard Retailers Association’s (NSSRA) Outstanding Snowboard Hardgoods Supplier award in 2001 and 2002, and the NSSRA Outstanding Snowboard Softgoods Supplier award in 2001. Jake is still Burton’s most avid product tester. Snowboarding is constantly progressing, and Jake keeps an open mind about the sport’s future while remaining true to his principles. Founding the world’s largest snowboarding company hasn’t changed Jake’s down-to-earth personality. He comes to the office, spends time with his family and snowboards as much as he can.

Jake passed away in November 2019 at the age of 65.

2003 Inductee
Pat Galyan

PAT GALYAN was born in Indianapolis, Ind., the son of Albert and Naomi Galyan, where his father was a prominent local grocer.  He graduated high school from Park School and then went on to earn his B.A. in history from Wabash College, with a strong area of concentration in environmental studies. Upon graduation in 1972, Pat received his commission in the U.S. Navy and spent most of his tour in the Aleutian Islands.  After leaving the service, he returned home and started to run the family business, which included two grocery stores and Galyan’s Trading Post, which at that time was a boat, gun and fishing store. Upon taking over, Pat quickly eliminated the grocery stores and started to expand the sporting goods offerings at the Post, which evolved into a full-sports and boat store of 60,000-70,000 square feet.  He developed a penchant for large stores in order to provide the customer with great assortments. He also was very focused on customer service.  With this background and belief system of “staying in stock and waiting on the customer” as the bedrock on how to operate at retail, he built his first store outside Indianapolis, in Columbus, Ohio.  The store was a true “category killer” in every way, and it caught the eye of The Limited, which decided to purchase the company. The Limited retained Pat to run and build the operation into a national chain, which he did under The Limited’s ownership for three years.  At that time, Pat decided to retire, and the majority of the company to Freeman Spogli, which embarked on a national rollout of the chain. Pat served on the NSGA Board of Directors from 1993-97. Pat has a son, Courtney, a daughter, Paige, and currently lives in Indianapolis with his wife Nancy.  He spends the bulk of his time in the outdoors with his wife – hunting, fishing, skiing, camping, and hiking. He also works with The Conservation Fund, a national organization that forges partnerships to conserve America’s legacy of land and water resources, primarily through land acquisition.

2004 Inductee
James Chick

JIM CHICK is President & CEO of Chick’s Sporting Goods, Inc. headquartered in Covina, Calif. During his 35 years at the company’s helm, Jim transformed a small family business into one of the industry’s major success stories among independent sporting goods retailers. Jim worked 30 hours a week at the family’s store while a full-time student at Cal Ply Pomona. When Jim purchased the company in 1968 from his grandparents, the company consisted of a single store in Covina. He was 21 years old at the time. In 1976, he moved the Covina location into a 22,000 square foot former grocery store, while most of his competitors were in 2,000-5,000 square-foot spaces. That was the start of a growth curve that saw the company expand from a single store and $180,000 in annual sales to 10 stores and $90 million in sales. Chick’s supports the communities in which the stores are located.  Each year, the company donates $10,000 per store to the local schools and sports-related youth organizations. Among Jim’s major industry honors are the Sporting Goods Dealer Leadership Award in 1988; the Licensed Products Retailer of the Year in 1995; and Retail Merchandising Trendsetter of the Year runner-up in 2001.  The company is listed among the industry’s Top 100 retailers yearly. Jim served on the NSGA Board of Directors and was Chairman of the Board in 1992.

2004 Inductee
Phil Knight

PHIL KNIGHT is the Chairman of NIKE, Inc., which can trace its roots back to 1964.  At that time, Knight and his former Oregon track coach Bill Bowerman invested $500 to start Blue Ribbon Sports, the progenitor to Nike. They had both expressed dissatisfaction with American running shoes and decided to try to improve on shoe design. Off to an uncertain start, Knight sold his shoes out of the back of a station wagon but continued to practice as a certified public accountant and teach at Portland State University until 1969. The Cortez, the first shoe to appear under the Nike brand, arrived on the athletic scene in 1972.  It became successful and launched substantial growth for the company named for the Greek goddess of victory. By 1979 Nike claimed 50% of the U.S. running shoe market. Through the 1980s and 1990s, Nike’s advertisements helped make it the foremost manufacturer of athletic shoes worldwide. Most of the advertisements featured endorsements from athletes such as basketball player Michael Jordan and golfer Tiger Woods as well as slogans such as “Just Do It.” The company has expanded over the years to design and market apparel and sports equipment, most recently its line of golf clubs. Nike innovations in shoe design include the waffle sole and air cushioning. Knight has also introduced several advances in the field of sports business and marketing. Knight graduated from the University of Oregon with a B.S. in business administration in 1959. There he competed on the track team and recorded a personal best time of 4:10 for the mile run. He received an MBA from Stanford University in 1962. As a youth he played sports and covered the sports beat for his high school newspaper.

2004 Inductee
Jerome Turner

JERRY TURNER has been in the athletic footwear business since completing work at the University of California at Berkeley graduate school in 1960. The company he helped build was Brooks Footwear, which was started by his father-in-law. While at Brooks, Jerry developed a passion for finding a way to build a better shoe, and among the concepts he introduced that have become standards today include: Nylon outsoles for use on football, soccer and baseball cleats, replacing leather soles; EVA as a midsole material replacing blown rubber; and the introduction of perforations in the midsole to add flexibility and cushioning. In 1983, he collaborated with Margaret Oung to start American Sporting Goods Corp. and introduce the brand Turntec.  In 1994, the company expanded into the hiking market with the introduction of Nevados.  In 1996, the company purchased the Avia brand from Reebok, and in 1999, it purchased Ryka, Yukon and Apex brands of footwear. The company’s theme throughout the development of its brands has been technically innovative footwear with profit margins greater than the competition. In 1999, the company acquired Act It Out, an apparel company with the Urban Sport brand.  The company also introduced Avia apparel. To participate in the growing skateboard market, the company acquired the Nice skateboard brand. The company also targeted skateboards with limited distribution to specialized skateboard outlets. The brand DOS – Spanish for the number Two – was created to penetrate the burgeoning fashion influence in the footwear market. The company, with seven brands, has grown 15% per year over the last six years and now ranks as one of the top 10 athletic shoe firms in the world. The company owns it shoe factory in Shanghai, China, which currently employs about 4,000 workers. Jerry was inducted into the Fashion Footwear Hall of Fame six years ago.

2005 Inductee
Roger Atkin

Long recognized as a pioneer and innovator in sports licensing, promotion and marketing, ROGER ATKIN served the industry for 30 years as Vice President of NFL Properties. Joining NFL Properties six years after its founding, Atkin developed a diversified group of licensees to provide team-identified products to a cross-section of retailers and NFL fans.  He initiated and assisted licensees in developing new products.  He established product quality contract standards, and his persistence led to the implementation of a trademark protection program. Atkin refined and broadened the development of the “Team Shop” concept to assist licensees in expanding distribution and give retailers a vehicle to merchandise and promote team-identified products.  In 1978, Atkin created the Super Bowl licensing program, the first in professional sports.  He developed the locker room “Championship” merchandise concept that was the forerunner to the multi-billion dollar post-game programs of today.  Industry respect for his knowledge and expertise earned him an invitation to address the U.S. trademark Association on the subject of the then-uncharted waters of “Sports Licensing and Trademark Protection.”  The U.S. Olympic Overview Commission and the North American Soccer League also sought his counsel. He and his wife Eloise reside in Lansdale, Pa. They have three daughters and eight grandchildren.

2005 Inductee
James Cabela

Few, if any, businesses today survive the kitchen-table dreams of their founders, especially in the outdoor industry where businesses come and go with the changing seasons. Yet, the company known to its customers as the “World’s Foremost Outfitter®” has done just that – survived, grown and prospered from simple beginnings to become the largest mail-order, retail and Internet outdoor outfitter in the world . Cabela’s was born somewhat inadvertently in 1961 when RICHARD (DICK) CABELA (current Chairman and Director) came up with a plan to sell fishing flies he purchased while at a furniture show in Chicago.  Upon returning home to Chappell, Neb., Dick ran a classified ad in the Casper, Wyo., newspaper reading “12 hand-tied flies for $1.”  It generated one response.  Undaunted, Dick formulated a new plan, rewriting the ad to read “FREE Introductory offer! 5 hand-tied flies…25¢ Postage…Handling” and placing it in national outdoor magazines.  It didn’t take long for the orders to be arriving from sportsmen and women around the country. Initially, Dick and his wife and company co-founder MARY were able to handle the growing business with the help of temporary typists hired for mail, label and catalog preparation. However, by the fall of 1962, they realized the demands of their new venture needed full-time attention.  Dick urged younger brother JAMES (JIM) CABELA (current Vice Chairman and Director) to join the new company, which he did in 1963. They did not take any salary from the company in the early years, instead investing in more mailings, new equipment and bigger facilities.  By 1964, the company moved from the kitchen table to the basement of Dick and Jim’s furniture store and then on to various buildings in Chappell. In 1969, the company was operating from a 50,000 square-foot building in neighboring Sidney, Neb.
The company produces 60 different catalogs a year, including specialty books on archery, fly-fishing and boating.  More than 100 million catalogs are mailed each year. The retail division operates seven stores throughout the Midwest. In 1985, Cabela’s Outdoor Adventures was born, booking worldwide hunting and fishing trips.
Another chapter in the company’s history was written last June when Cabela’s made its debut on the New York Stock Exchange. 

2005 Inductee
Mary Cabela

Few, if any, businesses today survive the kitchen-table dreams of their founders, especially in the outdoor industry where businesses come and go with the changing seasons. Yet, the company known to its customers as the “World’s Foremost Outfitter®” has done just that – survived, grown and prospered from simple beginnings to become the largest mail-order, retail and Internet outdoor outfitter in the world . Cabela’s was born somewhat inadvertently in 1961 when RICHARD (DICK) CABELA (current Chairman and Director) came up with a plan to sell fishing flies he purchased while at a furniture show in Chicago.  Upon returning home to Chappell, Neb., Dick ran a classified ad in the Casper, Wyo., newspaper reading “12 hand-tied flies for $1.”  It generated one response.  Undaunted, Dick formulated a new plan, rewriting the ad to read “FREE Introductory offer! 5 hand-tied flies…25¢ Postage…Handling” and placing it in national outdoor magazines.  It didn’t take long for the orders to be arriving from sportsmen and women around the country. Initially, Dick and his wife and company co-founder MARY were able to handle the growing business with the help of temporary typists hired for mail, label and catalog preparation. However, by the fall of 1962, they realized the demands of their new venture needed full-time attention.  Dick urged younger brother JAMES (JIM) CABELA (current Vice Chairman and Director) to join the new company, which he did in 1963. They did not take any salary from the company in the early years, instead investing in more mailings, new equipment and bigger facilities.  By 1964, the company moved from the kitchen table to the basement of Dick and Jim’s furniture store and then on to various buildings in Chappell. In 1969, the company was operating from a 50,000 square-foot building in neighboring Sidney, Neb.
The company produces 60 different catalogs a year, including specialty books on archery, fly-fishing and boating.  More than 100 million catalogs are mailed each year. The retail division operates seven stores throughout the Midwest. In 1985, Cabela’s Outdoor Adventures was born, booking worldwide hunting and fishing trips.
Another chapter in the company’s history was written last June when Cabela’s made its debut on the New York Stock Exchange. 

2005 Inductee
Richard Cabela

Few, if any, businesses today survive the kitchen-table dreams of their founders, especially in the outdoor industry where businesses come and go with the changing seasons. Yet, the company known to its customers as the “World’s Foremost Outfitter®” has done just that – survived, grown and prospered from simple beginnings to become the largest mail-order, retail and Internet outdoor outfitter in the world . Cabela’s was born somewhat inadvertently in 1961 when RICHARD (DICK) CABELA (current Chairman and Director) came up with a plan to sell fishing flies he purchased while at a furniture show in Chicago.  Upon returning home to Chappell, Neb., Dick ran a classified ad in the Casper, Wyo., newspaper reading “12 hand-tied flies for $1.”  It generated one response.  Undaunted, Dick formulated a new plan, rewriting the ad to read “FREE Introductory offer! 5 hand-tied flies…25¢ Postage…Handling” and placing it in national outdoor magazines.  It didn’t take long for the orders to be arriving from sportsmen and women around the country. Initially, Dick and his wife and company co-founder MARY were able to handle the growing business with the help of temporary typists hired for mail, label and catalog preparation. However, by the fall of 1962, they realized the demands of their new venture needed full-time attention.  Dick urged younger brother JAMES (JIM) CABELA (current Vice Chairman and Director) to join the new company, which he did in 1963. They did not take any salary from the company in the early years, instead investing in more mailings, new equipment and bigger facilities.  By 1964, the company moved from the kitchen table to the basement of Dick and Jim’s furniture store and then on to various buildings in Chappell. In 1969, the company was operating from a 50,000-square foot building in neighboring Sidney, Neb.
The company produces 60 different catalogs a year, including specialty books on archery, fly-fishing and boating.  More than 100 million catalogs are mailed each year. The retail division operates seven stores throughout the Midwest. In 1985, Cabela’s Outdoor Adventures was born, booking worldwide hunting and fishing trips.
Another chapter in the company’s history was written last June when Cabela’s made its debut on the New York Stock Exchange. 

2005 Inductee
Conny Klimenko

KONSTANTIN (CONNY) KLIMENKO, President of Sevylor, Inc., was born in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, which was then part of the Soviet Union. He fled to Germany at the end of World War II with his family, but his father was forcefully repatriated to the USSR.  Conny did not see his father again for 45 years, until August 1990 when he found him in the western Ukraine city of Lutsk. Conny made a well-documented trade with the local authorities of two above-ground swimming pools for a private apartment for his father, then 94 years old. Conny was educated in Germany, graduating with a BA in business, as well as receiving a diploma in textile and retailing in 1955.  He is fluent in English, German, Russian and Polish. He came to the United States in 1957 and secured a job as a shipping clerk for Klepper Folding Boats, the venerable German kayak maker. The next year, he and a former manager of the company left Klepper to form Kayak Corporation of America and soon was named junior partner.  That same year, the company became the exclusive U.S. distributor of the French Sevylor products. In 1969, when the Kayak Corporation was taken over by Great American Industries, Klimenko moved to Los Angeles and became VP of West Coast Operations for a new company called Recreonics Inc.  Kayak Corporation, with the exclusive Sevylor contract, was one of the cornerstones of the company. In 1973, Great American closed Recreonics, and Sevylor began distributing its own products.  Conny was appointed President & CEO of Sevylor USA, a post he has held for 31 years. In 1982, Sevylor France was taken over by Zodiac Corporation.  Klimenko kept his title with Sevylor USA, but he also was made VP of Zodiac, a member of the Board, and Director of the Leisure Division.  In September 2003, Zodiac sold Sevylor USA to NVI, a California company.  Today, Conny is President & CEO of Sevylor Inc., a new company but with the same product line. 

2006 Inductee
Alan Cohen

ALAN H. COHEN, a co-founder of The Finish Line, Inc., serves the company as Chairman of the Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer, positions he has held since 1982. Until November 1, 2003, Cohen also was the company’s president. Cohen traces his successful experience in the specialty athletic footwear and apparel industry to 1976, when he co-founded the company in Indianapolis that would eventually become the Finish Line.  Formerly a practicing attorney, Cohen has received numerous national and regional awards for business performance and achievement, including being recognized by Inc. magazine and Ernst & Young as Entrepreneur of the Year in 1991.  He serves on the Board of Visitors for Indiana University Law School (Indianapolis), on the Dean’s Advisory Council for the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University and on the Board of Directors for the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership (CICP). He served two terms on the NSGA Board of Directors in the 1990s.  His philanthropic and community work is extensive, including serving as a national trustee for the Boy’s and Girl’s Clubs of America and as a director on the board of the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce.  He received the “Spirit of Philanthropy Award” from the Indiana University and Purdue University at Indianapolis (IUPUI) in 2002.  Cohen and his wife, Linda, live in Indianapolis.  

2006 Inductee
David Koch

DAVID C. KOCH, known by his friends as “DCK,” grew up in his family’s Buffalo, New York-based business.  New Era, founded by his grandfather Ehrhardt Koch in 1920, was what he lived and breathed from an early age. Watching his grandfather and father, Harold, build the family’s headwear business from the ground up, he learned the value of hard work. In the family tradition, DCK started out sweeping the factory’s floors, worked his way through every operation within the organization, and was appointed the company’s President in 1972 by his father.  During his 30 years at New Era’s helm, DCK committed himself to developing the company from a small business of 30 employees into a company of 1,700. DCK built the company on his vision and goal to consistently sell New Era’s baseball caps to every Major and Minor League club on an annual basis; making the company an authentic name in the sports industry. After becoming New Era’s CEO when his father passed away in 1982, he nurtured the company’s 50-year relationship with Major League Baseball and in 1991 New Era become the co-exclusive manufacturer of Major League Baseball’s official uniform caps worn on the field of play by every player.  As a result of New Era’s continual support of Major League Baseball’s brand-building strategy, in 1994 MLB rewarded the company with the exclusive right to manufacture, market and distribute the league’s Authentic Collection headwear.  Under DCK’s direction New Era solidified its relationship with MLB, branched out by growing its license-based relationships throughout the professional and collegiate sports arena, and became a significant player in the headwear industry.  Before laptops and cell phones, DCK managed the big, and the small details, of the business, but always making sure to balance that with his personal life.  DCK raised a family of four children with his wife Valerie, who was also a major contributor to the company’s success.  He was an active athlete; in high school he was outstanding in track, swimming and pole vaulting, and as an adult he was an avid golfer, winning most tournaments he entered. DCK never tired of living life to the fullest, through work, family and play.  In 2002 New Era and the sports community lost DCK to cancer and yet his legacy lives on. The content of DCK’s character can be found in everything that is New Era; in its product, its employees and in the way his son Christopher has grown the company into the international powerhouse that it is today.
 

2006 Inductee
Donald Pfau

DONALD E. PFAU started Sports, Incorporated in September 1964, enlisting six other sporting goods store owners in Montana and the Dakotas to become part of the founding board of directors. The company did $83,000 in business the first year, and the company now has annual sales of almost a quarter of a billion dollars.
Don’s first retail business was a surplus store in Lewistown, Mont., which he opened on February 7, 1947, and he later opened a sporting goods store. Through all of this, he learned that the independent retailer needed to work with his friends in the business to be able to buy competitively in order to stay alive as a merchant. Rather than keeping the ownership of the buying group to himself, Pfau established Sports, Inc. as a company whose stockholders are all equal owners. Don served two terms on the NSGA Board of Directors, during which time he co-chaired the Successful, Independent Retailer (SIR) Program, which provided assistance to independent retailers who attended NSGA trade shows. He also served many years on the Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Fame Committee, most recently as Vice-Chairman, a position he relinquished when he retired from the Committee after its 2004 meeting. Don has been as active in his community as he has in the sporting goods industry. He spearheaded local fundraising drives that raised millions of dollars for civic improvements that included a new hospital, a new high school, a flood control project, a performing arts center and an adult education center. He also organized a program for junior high school students to help clean up a local recreation area. He has been deeply involved in city-county planning. One newspaper named Don “Man of the Century” in his area.  

2006 Inductee
Joachim Schroeder

JOACHIM SCHROEDER, retired since 2002 from a 28-year career at German sporting goods giant Karstadt Sports, is the first European sporting goods retailer to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, joining the late Adi Dassler of adidas, Frank Lowy of Unicorn Products, and Kenjiro Mizuno of Mizuno Corporation as the only non-Americans so honored.  Schroeder joined the company in 1974 as a store assistant, and by 1977 had become a buyer in the head office.  In 1981, he was head buyer of sporting goods equipment and became Director for sports and toys in 1991. He made his first trip to the United States in 1982 to visit the NSGA show in Chicago, and since then has more than 100 trips to the U.S. to conduct business.  He embraced American marketing of brands as a first mover in Germany.  As an example of marketing American brands in Germany, he sponsored a $1 million shot during a pre-season NBA basketball game; sponsored a par 3 competition with Tiger Woods and nine other top golfers from the roof of the Karstadt Sporthouse in Hamburg across the street to the next building; and he brought innovative American brands like Nike, Reebok, New Balance, Columbia, Eastpak, Callaway, Titleist and others to Germany.  Joachim developed the Karstadt Sporthouse Concept, which were stores ranging in size from 20,000 to 70,000 square feet.  Today there are more than 30 units.  He also developed the Runners Point Chainstore concept, similar to Foot Locker, in which there are more than 120 units.  When he joined the company in 1974, sporting goods sales were less than $100 million in Germany, and when he retired, sales had topped $1 billion, at which time the Karstadt Group was the leading sporting goods retailer in Germany.  

2006 Inductee
Jim Soffe

Born in Fayetteville, N.C. in 1946, JIM SOFFE attended and graduated from Presbyterian College in Clinton, S.C. in 1968 with a degree in Business Administration.  After two years in law school and active duty in the U.S. Army, he returned to Fayetteville. The M. J. Soffe Company is one of the country’s leading vertical manufacturers of active apparel.  Since 1946, Soffe has created casual and athletic styles to meet the changing apparel market.  Jim became the active president of the Soffe Company, in 1970, when his father passed away.  He held this position until October 2003, when he became CEO of M.J. Soffe, after the acquisition by Delta Apparel, Inc. On Jim’s watch, the company grew from $3 million in revenues to more than $100 million in 2001.  The company grew from 25 employees in 1970 to a high of more than 2,000 in 2001.  Jim and his wife Nancy have three children, Jim Soffe, Carol Soffe and Steve Wheeler.  

2006 Inductee
Edward Stack

Dick’s Sporting Goods was started by RICHARD (DICK) STACK in Binghamton, N.Y., more than 50 years ago when Dick’s grandmother gave him $300 from her cookie jar in the kitchen.  The business started as a small bait and tackle shop, and Dick continued to expand until 1977 by adding general sporting goods, work wear and golf to his merchandise mix.  After graduating college in 1977, 22-year old Ed Stack laid aside his dream of attending law school and returned to Binghamton to help his ailing father operate two small sporting goods stores.  Shortly thereafter, Ed struck a deal with is dad to purchase the stores.  At the helm of Dick’s Sporting Goods as Chairman and CEO, Ed Stack now leads one of the largest sporting goods retailers in the country with more than 250 stores in 34 states.  In 1994, Ed made the decision to move the company’s headquarters to Pittsburgh, bringing 49 of the 51 office employees with him.  Today, Dick’s employs more than 19,000 people in stores, distribution centers and corporate office. In 1997, Ed was named “Sports Executive Visionary of the Year” by SportStyle magazine, and in 1999, he was named “Entrepreneur of the Year in Southwestern Pennsylvania” by Ernst & Young.  Sporting Goods Business magazine named Dick’s “Trendsetter of the Year,” in 2000 and “Retailer of the Year” two of the last three years.  Ed has served on the Board of Trustees of Seton Hall University.

2007 Inductee
Sharp Lannom

SHARP LANNOM was born in the small town of Grinnell, Iowa, and raised on a small working farm on the edge of town.  Upon graduation from Northwestern University in 1961, he appeared on the path to a life in academia, when the untimely death of his father thrust him into the position he currently holds.  Sharp still quips that he’s never had a promotion.  As President of DeLong Sportswear, Lannom made an indelible mark on the sporting goods industry.  In the late 1960s, he pioneered mass customization and just-in-time delivery of custom product.  Ever improving on customer service and operations, this culminated in DeLong’s famous seven-day service, which allowed customers’ orders for custom garments to ship a week after receipt.  After transforming the company into a leader in supplying custom award jackets, uniforms, outerwear and caps to sporting goods and general retail companies, Sharp further improved the industry by hosting conferences for industry leaders, focusing on inventory control, marketing, and sales strategies.  His business acumen has helped countless small businesses thrive and grow.   Sharp also has been a leader in community economic development and rural health care and has served at the state level in hospital governance.  He has been a director of New York Stock Exchange companies in the utility industry and on the board of the SGMA.  Sharp is still active in directing DeLong into the future.  He and wife Linda enjoy traveling to visit customers across the country and spending time with their eight grandchildren.  When time permits, they like to ski and spend time at their northern Minnesota cabin.  

2007 Inductee
Herbert Markwort

HERB MARKWORT was born in St. Louis and got his first taste of the sporting goods business in 1931 when he received one dollar for restringing a fellow player’s tennis racket.  He started restringing rackets on his parents’ back porch, and when a neighbor asked if he had a license to do that, he got his business license the next day.  All of this took place before his 15th birthday.  After graduating high school in 1935, he opened his first retail store, but had great difficulty getting brand name merchandise, since major vendors wouldn’t sell to the new kid on the block.  Many wouldn’t even return his calls.  He persisted by contacting secondary vendors and decided to start his own brand.  The “Markwort Green Flash” tennis racket was the young company’s first branded product, followed soon thereafter by the “Markwort Pro-Line” model.  While studying civil engineering in college, he kept working his retail store and persisting to find vendors who would sell his growing business.  Herb did not return to college for his junior year and devoted his full attention to his retail tennis business.  He also started running the tennis pro shop at Triple A Club, giving him two locations from which to sell.  After the war, Herb moved the retail operation to larger quarters and started wholesaling sporting goods, and in 1947, the wholesale business moved to a separate building.  The first wholesale catalog – 32 pages – was published in 1947.  The wholesale business continued to grow, and Herb was able to buy almost any line except firearms and ammunition.  He had six sales reps covering accounts in a 200-mile radius of St. Louis.  In the 1950s, even more categories were added, and the wholesale catalog grew to hundreds of pages.  In 1957, the competition that had the firearms business locked up in St. Louis went bankrupt, and Markwort finally got the gun lines it had sought.  The company’s export business began in 1978, when a group of German buyers at a trade show asked for Herb’s help to buy American Products.  The next year, he started visiting European trade shows and increasing the import business with additional lines.
Herb died December 27, 1989, but not before seeing his hard work turn the company into an important part of the sporting goods industry.  Among his many activities was as president of the National Association of Sporting Goods Wholesalers in 1966-67.  In 1964, Markwort won Sporting Goods Dealer’s Leadership Award.  

2007 Inductee
Mickey Newsome

MICKEY NEWSOME started in sporting goods in 1958 with Dixie Sporting Goods of Birmingham, Ala., where he worked part time from 1958 through 1962 while attending Samford University in Birmingham.  After graduation, Newsome became an outside school salesman for Dixie Sporting Goods, covering northeast Alabama.  Two years later, he went to work as an outside salesman with Hibbett Sporting Goods, who was in the process of opening a second store in Huntsville.  Newsome worked as an outside salesman for Hibbett for two years, and when Hibbett opened a third store in Birmingham, Newsome moved to Birmingham to be the store manager. Newsome became Hibbett’s area manager for Birmingham and south Alabama in the early 70s, after Hibbett had opened several more retail stores in the area.  In 1981, Newsome became the President of Hibbett Sporting Goods, Inc., which now had 16 stores.  He served on the NSGA Board of Directors for seven years and was the Chairman during his last year on the Board.  He was on the NSGA Hall of Fame Committee for 10 years and was Chairman for eight years, from 1998 to 2006. In 1980 the Anderson family of Florence, Ala. acquired the company.  Hibbett expanded from 13 to 75 stores over a 15-year period.  Over the years, Hibbett Sports realized its “small market” concept could build the company into a top player in the sporting goods market if it could secure a large supply of capital.  In the spring of 1995, with the help of Smith Barney, Hibbett prepared a presentation to attract an equity investor.  Saunders, Karp and Megrue Company of New York City partnered with Hibbett Sports later that year.  The initial plan was to grow the company for 4 to 5 years and then do an initial public offering (IPO), but by the spring of 1996, it was obvious that Hibbett was in a good position to do an IPO, as it had delivered several successful quarters back to back in the midst of a hot stock market.  Though Hibbett prepared for an IPO in early summer of 1996, a cooling stock market delayed the IPO until September.  The initial public offering and the three-week road show were experiences Newsome will never forget, presenting challenges from a physical, mental, and emotional standpoint.  But the IPO was very successful.  At the year-end Hibbett Sports was debt-free and on its way to even greater success.  When Hibbett went public in 1996, the chain had approximately 82 stores.  At the end of this year, Hibbett expected to have approximately 625 stores.  Sales in 1996 were approximately $83 million; in 2006 they are expected to reach approximately $500 million.   

2007 Inductee
Robert Strasser

ROBERT J. STRASSER was born in 1947 to Robert L. and Marilyn Strasser.  Running a water well drilling business took the family too many remote locations in Oregon, Idaho, Alabama and more.    A graduate of Willamette University and Cal-Berkley Law School, Rob’s first job was with the firm that had Nike founder Phil Knight as a client.  His work in winning a lawsuit that resolved the Onitsuka Tiger-Blue Ribbon Sports dispute resulted in the creation of Nike, which brought him from outside counsel to Marketing VP at Nike.  He was instrumental in many of Nike’s early marketing successes, notably the 1984 Olympics, John McEnroe campaigns, and the signing Michael Jordan.    He left Nike when the frat house atmosphere became more of a billion dollar business.  He formed Sports Incorporated with his creative sidekick, Peter Moore in 1987. Together with a small crew of followers they worked on marketing ideas for many brands, including Brown Shoe, PF Flyer, and Benetton to name a few.  In 1990 they agreed to do some consulting work for adidas. They developed the concept of adidas Equipment, which did so well that adidas eventually purchased Sports Incorporated in 1993 and agreed to relocate adidas’ U.S. headquarters to Portland, Ore.   Tragically, Strasser died at the end of October of that year. Many people describe his personality as larger than life; his nickname was Rolling Thunder. In his lifetime, he worked with two great brands and left a lasting impact on both of them.

2008 Inductee
Ron Kruse

RON KRUSE began his career a team dealer as the third employee hired at Hayden and Sweasy Sporting Goods in Aurora, IL, in 1959. During the ’60s, Ron was involved in every aspect of the business, including retail, road sales, purchasing, billing and personnel. In 1972, he became a stockholder in Hayden’s and was general manager in 1974. Ron helped grow the business from $300,000 in the mid-1960s to more than $10 million in sales today. Ron was a founding member of the Team Athletic Goods (TAG) buying group in the late 1970s and is currently an ownership partner. He served on the NSGA Board of Directors for eight years, including a two-year term as Chairman. He is the Current Past-Chairman of the Association. Ron and his wife Carole have three children, including son David, who is active in the business. Ron has been involved in many civic activities, including Boy Scouts of America, his local high school booster club, and the Aurora Sunrise Rotary Club. He served on the advisory board of a local bank and is active in school fund-raising activities. 

2008 Inductee
Augie Nieto

AUGIE NIETO is one of the most successful innovators in the history of the U.S. fitness industry. In 1977, at the age of 19, Nieto bought the marketing rights to the Lifecycle exercise bike. In 1980, he co-founded Lifecycle Inc., and over the next 20 years, the company, now called Life Fitness, Inc., repeatedly multiplied in size under his leadership and grew to be the largest commercial manufacturer of fitness equipment in the world. Nieto currently serves as chairman of Octane Fitness, an Andover, Minn. – based designer and distributor of premium elliptical cross-trainers in the high-end, consumer specialty fitness equipment market. He also is an operating advisor of North Castle Partners, a leading private equity investor headquartered in Greenwich, Conn., that focuses on consumer businesses that address healthy living and aging trends, and he is on the boards of severs companies, including Grand Expeditions, Boca Raton, Fl., and Quest Software, Irvine, Calif. An active member of the Young Presidents Organization, Nieto is a 1995 recipient of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award in Illinois. He earned a degree in economics with an emphasis in financial accounting from Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, Calif. He resides in southern California with his wife and four children. More recently, he has devoted much of his time and effort raising funds for research to find a cure of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, more commonly known as ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, with which he was diagnosed in February 2005.

2008 Inductee
Kihachiro Onitsuka

KIHACHIRO ONITSUKA was born on May 29, 1918 in Tottori Prefecture in western Japan. Concerned a the sight of the nation’s youth after World War II, he made it his mission to inspire young people and chose the world of sports as a means to fulfill his goal. In 1949, he started Onitsuka Company, the first sports shoe company in Japan. Using many creative ideas, he released innovative and groundbreaking products. In 1977, ASICS Corporation was formed through a merger of Onitsuka Company, G.T.O. Company, an equipment manufacturer, and Jelenk Company, a sports apparel manufacturer. Onitsuka became the president and aimed to diversify the business to be more competitive on the global sporting goods market. The Asics comes from the Latin phrase, “Anima Sana In Corpore Sano”- a sound mind in a sound body. In 1992, he became chairman of ASICS Corporation, a position he held until his death last year. Today, ASICS is the fifth largest sports goods manufacturer, making products not only for Olympic Gold medal winners, but also ordinary people who participate in sports as part of a healthy lifestyle. Over the years, Onitsuka also held a number of public offices. He was president of the Japan Basketball Association and was the lifetime honorary president of the World Federation of the Sporting Goods Industry. He received the Order of the Sacred Treasure (1988), Medal with Blue Ribbon (1974), and Medal with Dark Blue Ribbon (1978, 1983).  In 2001, he received the Olympic Order.

2008 Inductee
Randy Renfrow

August 9, 2002 saw an unconventional end to a life that affected the course of the specialty fitness industry.  RANDALL PAUL (RANDY) RENFROW, a driven but quiet voice in the fitness industry died in a home accident, ironic for a man who lived much of his life on the edge as a national champion motorcycle racer.  Randy brought a unique vision for a retailer to an industry in its infancy, helping many manufacturers develop, build and refine their products to be successful in the marketplace.  His straightforward demeanor, combined with his grassroots knowledge of the fitness industry, his native engineering ability, and genuine affection for people enabled him to develop lasting relationships in the industry.  His competitive nature, honed on the racing circuit, was also present in his dealings in the fitness industry and commanded respect and admiration from those who worked with him.  Randy took over the Fitness Resource division of his parent company in 1986 while still competing as a racer and winning three national championships during the ’80s.  Under Randy’s guidance, Fitness Resource grew from a single store to 21 stores covering markets from Maryland to Georgia.  Randy focused on what made the specialty side of the fitness industry different and shaped the company to focus on those elements critical for success.  He always took the customer’s point of view in giving advice to manufacturers on product issues.  He understood the need for improved quality control and respectable margins of dealers and fought long and hard for those issues to the benefit of the industry as a whole.

2009 Inductee
Hank Derleth

HANK DERLETH was an academic All-American football player at the University of Wisconsin and played in the 1960 Rose Bowl. He started his career in the sporting goods industry with Sand-Knit, a division of Medalist Industries, as an assistant sales manager. For two years, he attended Philadelphia College of Textiles and Science, taking graduate courses to increasxe his knowledge in yarn manufacturing, fabric analysis, knitting technology and textile quality control.  Upon his return to Sand-Knit, he became manufacturing manager. He was promoted to General Manager/President in 1972, and in 1981, he was named President of Medalist. In 1984, he joined Ripon Award Jackets, Inc. as part owner. The company added athletic uniforms to the jacket line and changed the company name to Ripon Athletic. In 1992, the company acquired the assets of Sand-Knit and continued to grow in the athletic team uniform market. In 1993, the Derleth family acquired the business. Ripon currently has three plants with 160 employees. The company manufactures and distributes athletic uniforms through select team dealers across the U.S. and Canada. It also contracts to make professional and college uniforms. Hank is active in local civic affairs and is on the Board of Directors of an area bank and a community health provider network. He is a member of the Wisconsin Football Coaches Hall of Fame and was elected to the Hall of Fame of his high school alma mater, Beaver Dam, Wis., in 2004.  Hank and his wife Gretchen live near Berlin, Wis., and have five children and eight grandchildren. Four of their children are active in Ripon Athletic.

2009 Inductee
Elizabeth Goeke

During her 29 years as president of Moving Comfort, ELLEN WESSEL was known as a persistent and passionate advocate for women’s fitness. In 1976 there were no women’s running clothes. There was men’s, and there was unisex. Wessel was 26 when she co-founded Moving Comfort and introduced a new category to the sporting goods industry. From Moving Comfort’s earliest days when women-specific product was considered “fringe” business, the brand stayed consistent in its commitment to providing women with products that inspire them to get fit and stay fit. ELIZABETH GOEKE’S entire career had been focused on creating clothes that truly fit the needs of a woman’s body in motion. With a passion for running and outstanding talent as a tailor, Goeke’s skills combined to make her the perfect business partner for Wessel and Moving Comfort. After joining the company six months into its creation, Goeke and her partners built Moving Comfort into one of the most highly respected brands of women’s athletic wear in the United States.  Goeke had apprenticed under several master tailors as she worked steadily towards her dream of working with some great Seventh Avenue design house. Yet when Goeke tried a prototype of Moving Comfort running shorts, her interests changed.  As an avid runner, she knew the clothes could fit better and felt there must be something she could wear that would be comfortable and last longer.  A friend of a friend put her in touch with Wessel and the initial conversation was the beginning of an enduring business partnership and friendship.  

2009 Inductee
Gerry O'Keefe

GERRY O’KEEFE loved people and he loved sports, which made his distinguished 45-year career in sporting goods sales and marketing a natural, to use one of his favorite expressions. He was a star high school baseball and basketball player growing up in Elmhurst, Queens, N.Y., where the nickname “Leaguer” reflected the expectations of those who saw him play that he might one day make it to the majors. But a four-year stint in the Navy effectively cost him a shot at the big leagues and made him disinclined to start college at 22 when his tour of duty ended. So he did what most great men do in choosing a course in life – he followed his heart. He never imagined when he took a position at A.G. Spalding’s retail store in lower Manhattan in 1946 that it would mark the beginning of a 45-year career in sporting good sales and marketing filled with remarkable professional accomplishments and unforgettable personal experiences. His approach to marketing was proactive, thoughtful and innovative. Brunswick’s Track-Master bowling ball and original snowboard (“Snurfer”), the first home indoor golf simulator (the “Swing-Away”), graduated heel-to-toe weighted irons (PGA Victor/Tommy Armour Golf’s “Concept”), the popular BowFlex, and Schwinn’s pioneering AirDyne exercise bicycle were all projects with which he was involved, in the development process as well as sales, not because he fancied himself a designer or engineer but because he knew it was a lot easier and more fulfilling to sell a product in which he believed. 

2009 Inductee
Norbert Olberz

The son of a chocolate maker, NORBERT OLBERZ emigrated from Germany to Canada in 1953 and then to Portland, Ore., in 1955. He worked as a truck driver for a year and a half before purchasing a bakery. During that time he developed a passion for skiing. Olberz later sold the bakery and, along with his new bride Irene, drove along the West Coast to look at businesses that were for sale.  In 1959, he purchased a small ski shop, Sport Chalet, in La Cañada, Calif., and learned the sporting goods business from customers, other skiers, friends and suppliers. His store originally sold just ski and tennis merchandise. The 1960 Winter Olympics, held in Squaw Valley, gave business a big boost. Soon after, the store expanded into other sports merchandise. As the need for more space grew, he purchased a larger location across the street, where he introduced a mechanical ski ramp. Customers loved it and television stations came and took pictures of skiers training on it. Sport Chalet was one of the first sporting goods stores to sell SCUBA equipment and offer equipment for rock climbing and backpacking. Over the years, he distinguished his organization by offering equipment for cutting-edge sports. Starting with a small investment, Olberz grew Sport Chalet to 55 locations throughout the Southwestern United States. He started many businesses over the years including a hotel in Mammoth, a travel agency, a wholesale import boot company and a manufacturing company making outdoor gear. Olberz was also a product designer and inventor and gave his advice freely to manufacturers to help make their products better. He successfully completed a public offering of Sport Chalet stock in 1992. Norbert and his wife Irene have resided in La Cañada since 1959. Their son, Eric, currently serves on Sport Chalet’s Board of Directors. 

2009 Inductee
Ellen Wessel

During her 29 years as president of Moving Comfort, ELLEN WESSEL was known as a persistent and passionate advocate for women’s fitness. In 1976 there were no women’s running clothes. There was men’s, and there was unisex. Wessel was 26 when she co-founded Moving Comfort and introduced a new category to the sporting goods industry. From Moving Comfort’s earliest days when women-specific product was considered “fringe” business, the brand stayed consistent in its commitment to providing women with products that inspire them to get fit and stay fit. ELIZABETH GOEKE’S entire career had been focused on creating clothes that truly fit the needs of a woman’s body in motion. With a passion for running and outstanding talent as a tailor, Goeke’s skills combined to make her the perfect business partner for Wessel and Moving Comfort. After joining the company six months into its creation, Goeke and her partners built Moving Comfort into one of the most highly respected brands of women’s athletic wear in the United States.  Goeke had apprenticed under several master tailors as she worked steadily towards her dream of working with some great Seventh Avenue design house. Yet when Goeke tried a prototype of Moving Comfort running shorts, her interests changed.  As an avid runner, she knew the clothes could fit better and felt there must be something she could wear that would be comfortable and last longer.  A friend of a friend put her in touch with Wessel and the initial conversation was the beginning of an enduring business partnership and friendship.  

2010 Inductee
Bill Farrell

BILL FARRELL has been characterized as a non-stop force within the ASICS family and wrestling community. Bill started his career with ASICS in 1958 when the brand was just making a name for itself in Japan, and with his help, the Onitsuka Tiger brand was introduced into the U.S. market.  He tirelessly worked on behalf of the brand – and eventually ASICS – until it became the No. 1 wrestling shoe.  He is a legend in the wrestling community. In addition to competing internationally, Farrell coached the New York Athletic Club wrestling team to 11 national AAU titles and several USA Wrestling national team titles.  He coached the U.S. freestyle team to six medals at the 1972 Olympic Games. He also found time to serve as strength and conditioning coach for Vince Lombardi in Green Bay and Washington.  In 1959, with Onitsuka Tiger and Resilite, Farrell started his first company, Olympic Resilite, which distributed a variety of wrestling products.  He also purchased the company that sold the Universal Gym.  Since 1988, T.W. Promotions has been the wrestling arm of ASICS America Corporation. Bill was inducted into the Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1985 as a Distinguished Member for his contributions to the sport.  In 2007, the U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Wrestling presented him with the Lifetime Achievement Award, in which they stated that no other person has had a more positive effect on the Olympic sport of wrestling.  He retired in 2008 and lives in Centre Island, N.Y., with his wife Lorraine. 

2010 Inductee
John Forzani

JOHN FORZANI is the Founder and Chairman of the Board of The Forzani Group Ltd., Canada’s largest and only national sporting goods retailer, with more than 567 corporate and franchise stores that account for more than $1.7 billion in sales and employs more than 14,000. The Forzani Group enjoys more than 16% of the Canadian sporting goods market, estimated at $7.4 billion.  Forzani Group stores operate under five corporate banners: Sport Chek, Coast Mountain Sports, Sport Mart, National Sports, and Fitness Source. The company also franchises as Sports Experts, Intersport, Atmosphere, Econosports, Tech Shop/Pegasus, Nevada Bob’s Golf, Hockey Experts and Fitness Source. He is also Chairman of IIC-Intersport International Corporation, an international buying group and franchisor of more than 4,600 sports stores in 28 countries. John played for the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League and is currently a partner and Chairman of the club. He also serves as a director of two other corporations in Canada. Upon graduating from Utah State University, John returned to his hometown and began his professional career in Calgary, playing offensive guard for seven years. Football opened doors to a new career as a sporting goods retailer. He opened his first store in 1974 with brothers Joe and Tom and friend Bas Bark, all former CFL teammates.  The 1,200-square-foot store was named Forzani’s Locker Room. In five years the business had grown to 23 locations in Alberta and Saskatchewan.  

2010 Inductee
Julie Nimmons

JULIE NIMMONS joined the family business, Schutt Manufacturing Company, the precursor to Schutt Sports, on a full-time basis in May of 1982. After serving in a variety of positions, Julie acquired Schutt in January of 1986.  Through acquisitions of companies involved with manufacturing football and baseball helmets, baseball and softball field equipment, and product line extensions, the company’s revenue grew significantly. Schutt Sports remained a family owned business until April of 2005. During her tenure with Schutt Sports, she was twice named as one of the 25 Leaders to Watch in the sporting goods industry.  In Washington, D.C., Julie lobbied and testified for tort reform on behalf of the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association before committees in both the House of Representatives and the United States Senate.  Additionally, she lobbied several years for the Carol M. White Physical Education Program (PEP) continuation, as well as for other issues relative to health, physical fitness and trade.  Julie was the first woman elected to the Board of Directors of SGMA and later served as Chairman. Julie and husband Ken were recognized as Business Persons of the Year by her hometown Litchfield Chamber of Commerce, Litchfield, Illinois.  She was featured in CNN’s “All About Women,” and appeared in interviews seen on CNN and ESPN. Julie is a graduate of Eastern Illinois University. She and Ken have two married daughters.

2010 Inductee
Ken Nimmons

From his first day with Schutt Sports, KEN NIMMONS focus was on designing and implementing improvements for others.  After completing a Bachelor of Science degree in Architectural Studies at the University of Illinois, Ken joined Schutt Manufacturing Company, the precursor to Schutt Sports.  At the time, Schutt’s focus was on manufacturing football faceguards, basketball goals and ball inflators.  Ken was responsible for designing new manufacturing and distribution facilities. Through the years, Ken developed new manufacturing techniques and in many instances, worked with machinery and equipment vendors to develop the tools, attachments, and components needed to accomplish those changes. Ken was asked to assist in developing the first football faceguard standard. When there was an opening on the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) Board of Directors from SGMA, Ken served more than 15 years.  Ken’s patent for tension mounting for face guards eliminated the need for specific sized football faceguards to fit medium and large football helmets, which took the guesswork out of fitting faceguards on to helmets.  Ken also focused on community improvement, having served on the Litchfield, Ill. Chamber of Commerce Industrial Committee, the St. Francis Hospital Advisory Board and the Lincoln Land Community College Advisory Board, as well as other area civic groups and committees.  

2011 Inductee
Jim Baugh

JIM BAUGH and the sport of tennis will forever be linked. Baugh’s passion for the sport was demonstrated in successes at Wilson Sporting Goods Co. and earlier in his career, at Prince Manufacturing.  Baugh joined Wilson in 1987 as general manager of Wilson Racquet Sports, and was named president of Wilson Sporting Goods in 1996.  He served in that position until 2003.  As president, Baugh led a very profitable $1 billion global company, developing a uniform branding and marketing approach for all divisions.   While at Wilson, Baugh joined the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association (SGMA) board of directors, a position he still holds.  His vision for improving the health and fitness of American children became reality through this role and the creation of PE4Life, which is dedicated to rebuilding quality physical education programs in our nation’s schools.  After leaving Wilson, Baugh served as president of the Tennis Industry Association and as a board member of the United States Tennis Association (USTA).  He helped launch grassroots programs that turned around a decline in participation and saw a 23% increase in play occasions.  Baugh currently consults with various companies and associations in the sporting goods and leisure industry.  

2011 Inductee
Tom Raynor

TOM RAYNOR is chairman and CEO of Fleet Feet, Inc., the leading franchisor of running specialty retailers in the United States. Starting with a staff of two in 1993, Fleet Feet has grown to more than 90 stores in 30 states and the District of Columbia.  After a brief foray into politics, working as a press aide to then Governor Jimmy Carter, Raynor went to Vanderbilt University as assistant director of housing and cross country coach.  He also began his career in the sporting goods industry as a sales associate at The Athlete’s House in Nashville, Tenn. and later at The Athlete’s Foot, also in Nashville.  During the early years of the first running boom, Raynor was involved in running at every level – athlete, coach, shoe salesman, and running club co-founder.  His impact and familiarity with the Southeastern U.S. running scene led to a job with the independent sales agency, Sig Lee and Associates, which represented Nike, Ridgeview and Spenco.  Responding to the need for more consistent education of sales associates and brand representation at rapidly growing running events, Raynor presented product seminars in stores, spoke at events, and set up booths at race expos, while continuing to coach a number of athletes.  His regular reports back to Nike, reflecting the changing market and opportunities for the expansion of running, were a factor in the creation of a national “tech rep” program, the first among major footwear manufacturers.  After leaving Nike in 1983, Raynor went to Brooks Shoe Company, where he held a variety of positions, including regional sales manager, promotions manager, marketing manager, and, ultimately, director of marketing and product development.  In 1989, Raynor joined Wilson Sporting Goods as general manager of footwear.  Raynor returned to the running business in 1992 with Fleet Feet, where he worked on store operations and new store development.  The next year, Raynor purchased the franchise company from founder Sally Edwards and purchased two Fleet Feet Sports stores in California.  Raynor is a native of Atlanta and is a graduate of Georgia State University.  

2011 Inductee
Ted Stahl

TED STAHL is the executive chairman of GroupeSTAHL, an international group of companies dedicated to providing a wide range of alternatives in garment decoration, specializing in heat printing methods. GroupeSTAHL is both a manufacturer as well as a provider of garment decoration services.  Stahl is a well-known industry veteran with more than 40 years’ experience in all aspects of apparel graphics, from manufacturing and marketing, to product design and retail operations.  Highly regarded by his peers as an industry pioneer and known as a visionary, Stahl has been awarded many patents for innovations in the world of garment decorating, including Thermo-FILM®, the world’s most popular material for numbers and letters, and the revolutionary Hotronix® heat press.  GroupeSTAHL recently introduced the Hotronix® Fusion™, the world’s first touch-screen heat press designed as a combination swinger and draw press.  Stahl has played a major role in bringing sportswear graphics into the computer era, with the introduction of high-tech digital imprinting products, including CAD-CUT® materials, Drawmate™ software and today’s CADWorxlive.com, a free online art creation website.  Stahl also introduced CAD-PRINTZ® full color transfers to the industry, a service that is growing in popularity with embroiderers and screen printers.  Equally innovative in the marketing realm, Stahl is the author of Ted’s Guerilla Marketing Tips, a book that presents ingenious ways for retailers to boost their volume of imprinting services through creative selling and promotions.  His is the first company to take the concept of cutting graphics for jerseys on-demand mainstream, with CAD-CUT® technology and its line of patented CAD-CUT® materials, which allows sporting goods stores to cut and apply their own custom player names, numbers and logos in-house, on-demand.  Among his inventions are water-jet technology, for custom cutting twill, and player name and number sets, a fast way to add individual player names and numbers to jerseys.  He is a member of the Specialty Graphic Imaging Association and founded an organization that preserves, restores and exhibits specific vintage vehicles of the 20th century for educational purposes. 

2012 Inductee
Cliff Keen

As the head wrestling coach at the University of Michigan for 45 years from 1925-1970, the late CLIFF KEEN’S teams went an amazing 268-91-9, won 13 Big Ten team Championships, and had 68 All-Americans. Individual wrestlers he coached won 11 National Championships and 81 individual Big Ten Championships.  Keen’s career not only included his service as the coach at Michigan. He also coached the 1948 U.S. Olympic wrestling team, served on the U.S. Olympic Committee, and wrote a book on the fundamentals of amateur wrestling entitled Championship Wrestling.  He is a member of the University of Michigan’s Athletics Hall of Honor, the state of Michigan’s Sports Hall of Fame, and the U.S. National Wrestling Hall of Fame. In addition, the wrestling arena at the University of Michigan is named Cliff Keen Arena.  One of his biggest accomplishments, however, was his invention of the first wrestling ear guard to protect wrestlers from “cauliflower ears,”, a deformation caused by repeated blows to the ear. This invention has become mandatory for wrestlers to wear both in practice, and in matches, today.  In 1958, Keen and his son, Jim, started Cliff Keen Athletic, to manufacture, sell and promote the ear guard he created, while educating the wrestling world on cauliflower ear. It was Keen’s belief that unless he addressed the issue of cauliflower ear, parents would discourage their young athletes from participating in wrestling due to the concern for permanent disfigurement of the wrestler’s ears.  Today, Cliff Keen Athletic provides protective equipment, uniforms and workout gear for wrestlers across the world. The company’s product line also includes officials’ wear for prep, college and professional sports officials and umpires, as well as custom uniforms for triathlon clubs.  

2012 Inductee
Don Lucas

Even while having a successful career as a commercial real estate attorney, DON LUCAS had a passion for running. He was a member of a small but dedicated group of friends who ran together during lunch on the weekdays and in surrounding communities of Dallas on the weekends in the 1960s.  During those early years, Don set out to find a source of running shoes. While today, thousands of different styles of running and walking shoes in the United States alone are for sale each day, only a handful of running shoes existed in 1970.  And, there was no such thing as a specialty running store.  Due to the obvious need and desire of the small running community in Dallas for shoes and accessories, Lucas created Luke’s Locker in 1970 to meet those needs.  Today, Luke’s Locker has nine locations throughout Texas, and the company is seen as one of the top specialty running retailers in the country. Run by all the members of his family, including his wife and three sons, the company is responsible for hundreds of running fundraisers that give back thousands of dollars to their local communities.  Lucas himself is a respected businessman, teacher, industry advocate, and is known as a pioneer of specialty running. His vision to begin the company and his ahead-of-his-time merchandising of running product in his stores became the standard for others to follow. He is well known for his desire to work together with his vendors for a win/win relationship and for his efforts to mentor and encourage his employees to become leaders within the industry. Many of them have gone on to become store owners, sales reps, and marketing employees for vendors.  His list of civic activities and awards are too numerous to name, but he is a member of the Running Specialty Stores Hall of Fame, serves as the Race Director of the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Dallas, is a member of the Board of the Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau, and a past Board Chairman of the Dallas YMCA.

2012 Inductee
Randy Ruch

After earning a bachelor’s degree in mathematics education from Villanova University, RANDY RUCH founded Schuylkill Valley Sports in 1971, building the company from a one-store company to a well-established 19-store regional chain with a thriving team business, serving Eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey.  During his time as CEO of the company, Ruch was known to hire quality leaders and let them run their aspect of the business. He was well-liked and respected by most everyone he dealt with, which helped him create outstanding relationships with employees, vendors and customers. In addition to growing the company from one to 19 stores, he implemented an Employee Stock Ownership Plan, which converted the corporation to an employee-owned entity.  Known as a hard worker with tremendous business acumen, Ruch’s efforts not only within his own company, but throughout the industry are well documented. He served faithfully on NSGA’s Board of Directors for six years, on the Athletic Dealers of America Board for a total of 10 years (one term as Chairman), on the Editorial Advisory Board for Sporting Goods Business magazine for over 10 years, and was the chairman of the Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Fame Committee for six years. He is also dedicated to his community, serving on various boards and committees. For over 20 years, Ruch served on the Board for the local YMCA in Pottstown, Pa., and as its chairman in 2005-06. He has received a number of awards from the organization, including Volunteer of the Year in 1993 and the Humanitarian Award in 2005. His other local service includes serving as a board member of Phoenixville Federal Bank and Trust, as a coach in the area’s Babe Ruth baseball league, and as treasurer of his alma mater’s Philadelphia Alumni Club. 

2012 Inductee
Neil Stillwell

NEIL STILLWELL began his career by opening Neil’s Sport Shop in Phenix City, Ala., which eventually grew to include nine retail stores across two states, and surpassed $10 million in sales.  As a pioneer in the collegiate licensed product and souvenir concession businesses, he became the first football merchandise souvenir concessionaire at Auburn University, taking over the football stadium merchandise sales at the University of Alabama, University of Georgia, Florida State University, University of Florida, and Clemson University soon thereafter.  In 1985, Stillwell founded The Game Headwear Co., which has been instrumental in expanding the collegiate headwear business in the U.S. due to its innovative designs and quality manufacturing. The Game was the first branded headwear company to place its logo on the outside of caps, a practice that has become the industry standard, and Stillwell and his company were the first to sign endorsement contracts with college football coaches to wear their caps on the sidelines. By 1992, under Stillwell’s leadership, the company grew to $82 million in sales and over 250 employees, and the company’s “The Bar” cap, remains the #1 headwear design in college sports today.  The next year, he partnered with NASCAR driver Davey Allison to establish A-Star Promotions, a souvenir and merchandise concession company, for Allison’s #28 Texaco-Havoline team. This platform set the stage for Kudzu Headwear, which Stillwell started in 1994. Kudzu has forever changed the quality of headwear merchandise used by NASCAR’s top teams, and the quality of headwear merchandise sold at NASCAR races.  Since re-acquiring The Game from Russell Athletic in 1998, Stillwell and his partners have regained market share, and sales reached $40 million. They have introduced “On the Field” headwear, and over 1,000 college baseball teams wear The Game headwear during games.

2013 Inductee
Randy Hooper

After an early career in banking, retail management and marketing, RANDY HOOPER became the first paid employee of Sports Distributors of Canada Limited in 1975, serving as its president for 37 years until his retirement in January 2012.  During his time leading the organization, Sports Distributors of Canada Limited grew from just a few stores to more than 200, and Hooper helped create two retail brands (Source for Sports and Source for Adventure), which were meant to develop marketing strength and efficiencies for this group of independent stores. Today, Source for Sports has more storefronts than any other sporting goods retail banner in Canada, which is a direct result of Hooper’s hard work and dedication.  Known for his motto “Service to the Max”, Hooper built the Sports Distributors of Canada Limited organization with a Corporate Office growing from one employee to a staff of 21, most of whom have been with the organization for more than 10 years.  He instilled his motto in his employees, cultivating a culture of learning and growth that has benefited the members of his organization for the last 37 years.  In addition to his leadership in building Sports Distributors of Canada Limited from a business perspective, he developed a culture of the members supporting their local communities.  Most store owners are active participants in their communities, serving as coaches and referees, on community boards, and more.  Randy set the example, serving as a minor league football coach for many years, and setting up a fundraising program within the organization’s main office for the United Way.  Throughout his career, contributing to the betterment of the industry has been important to Randy.  He served on the Board of Directors of the Canadian Sporting Goods Association (CSGA) from 1979-1992 and the National Sporting Goods Association (NSGA) from 1992-1998.  Randy also participated on the Associate Retail Members Committee of the National Snow Industries Association from 1981-1985 and on the Sir Sanford Fleming College Sporting Goods Business Advisory Committee from 1984 to 2004.  He was also a recipient of the prestigious John Buckner Memorial Award of Merit from Sports Distributors of Canada Limited. 

2013 Inductee
John Parish

JOHN PARISH, the retired owner and CEO of Worth Sports, Inc., assumed leadership of the company in 1970, and in one decade led the company to preeminence in the bat and ball industry.  Just before taking over as owner, he led the company’s efforts to enhance its wood bat sales during 1968, and helped the company enter the aluminum bat market in 1969, seizing on opportunities each time that helped solidify the company’s leadership in the baseball and softball markets.  Parish’s commitment to innovation also showed itself in the ball market, as Worth became the industry leader during the 1970s and 1980s in polyurethane core softballs, which enhanced participation in the sport, and Reduced Injury Factor (RIF) baseballs, which reduced injuries for children.  In 1980, he took a leave of absence to successfully lead the Tennessee Department of Economic Development.  During his time in that role, he attracted a record number of businesses to the state, resulting in Tennessee being the country’s #3 auto producer.  During the 1990s, Parish instituted an R&D program to develop a softball bat with a separate internal shell, which gave superior performance to single-wall bats.  In two years, Worth developed and patented one of its most unique designs, the “shell” bat. These bats became a dominant market factor and propelled the company to the #1 position in the aluminum softball bat market.  He stepped away from the Worth business in 1995, and the fourth generation leadership successfully operated the business until the family sold it to K2 in 2003.  Since that time, Worth has been acquired by Jarden Team Sports.  During his time as CEO, Parish served on the Board of Directors and as chairman of the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association, helping to create the Super Show during his time in those roles.  Today, he serves on the Executive Board of the Middle Tennessee Council of the Boy Scouts of America, as the chairman of the Board for the Beechcraft Heritage Museum, and as an emeritus member of the EAA Aviation Association of Oshkosh, Wisconsin. He is the co-owner of the Parish Aerodome where he is also a commercial pilot, and is the part owner/manager of Turtle River Adventure Base in NW Ontario, Canada.

2013 Inductee
Rusty Saunders

A native New Yorker, RUSTY SAUNDERS began his career on Wall Street as a pension administrator for a large bank.  After three years, the college basketball player in him came back and led him into the sporting goods industry, where he spent the next 13 years working for MacGregor – Brunswick Corporation.  Saunders served as MacGregor’s east coast regional sales manager for its team division, pro golf and retail areas, as the national accounts and premium manager, and as the Vice President of Merchandising, responsible for R&D, product managers, advertising and promotions.  During his time with the company, MacGregor introduced the Nicklaus Golden Bear 3-8 iron and bag set, premium leather color baseball gloves in red, blue and green, and the MacGregor 100MH polycarb padded football helmet, which became the #2 seller in a market dominated by a non-padded helmet.  In addition, he directed the advisory staff for product development, promotions and personal appearances for many greats in football (Unitas, Namath and Ditka), golf (Nicklaus, Watson and Weiskopf) and baseball (Aaron, Rose and Frank Robinson).  He was recognized four times as MacGregor’s leading sales producer and product developer.  Saunders spent the next years of his career as executive vice president and COO of two regional retail chains owned by Recreation Products Retailing – Brendamour’s and Hollywood Sports Plaza.  He took both chains with long heritages, but financial trouble, to profitability.  He then started the Saunders & Associates Sales Agency, where he spent the next 19 years of his career.  The agency covered five Midwest states, and was named the Sales Agency of the Year twice for Brooks.  Saunders himself was named the Brooks Salesman of the Year on three occasions, and he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Sporting Goods Agents Association.   More recently, Saunders has certainly kept busy. He served as a 12-year member of the Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Fame Committee, was a founding partner of SportsOneSource, was a moderator of Coach and Connect, serves on the advisory board for Implus Corp., is a founder of Get in the Game Careers, and is a longtime moderator of the NSGA Management Conference & Team Dealer Summit.

2014 Inductee
Ira Silberman

Prior to the early sixties many coaches and athletes frowned on weight training for sport.  Weight training was primarily considered a “body building” endeavor to be done at the gym.  Home use of exercise equipment was relegated to the basement or garage and major retailers did not focus on promoting fitness products.  Diversified Products Corporation (better known as DP) was founded in Opelika, Alabama in 1962 by Fob James, a member of the Hall of Fame, with a single product – a plastic encased barbell weight.  His vision was to build his company around this manufacturing process and to create a multi-product company for in-home use of exercise equipment.  IRA J. SILBERMAN, an Industrial Design graduate from Georgia Tech, was hired by Fob to initiate and lead the company’s effort in achieving that goal – which he did for the next 27 years.  During his career he served on the company’s Board of Directors and in both the senior management position for product development and manufacturing before retiring as Senior Vice President. I initially a one man department, Silberman selectively grew his staff into a full Research and Development department while creating more than 200 new products for the company, making it the leader in mass merchandising fitness products for in-home use.  Responsible for the design, engineering and manufacturing standard of every product the company developed and/or manufactured , he is the inventor or co-inventor of more than 35 US and/or foreign patents for exercise and sporting goods equipment.  He also was co-inventor of the exercise device that flew on the Apollo 11 moon mission.  DP’s concepts and designs led this new wave of consumer and retail interest in fitness products by creating products that could be economically shipped, stored and displayed by the merchant and were easily portable from store-to-home.  They were appealing to the consumer in appearance, packaging and price, well-engineered, easy to assemble, and safe to use.  The products Silberman and his staff developed were promoted and sold at virtually every major national chain, department store, and sporting goods store selling fitness equipment.  These products included multi-function weight benches, self-contained weight machines, boat anchors, bicycle exercisers, rowing machines, treadmills, hand exercise equipment, table tennis tables, pool tables, and other sporting goods products.  He and the company were recipients of the Sears “Symbol of Excellent” or “Partners in Progress” award for innovation, quality and service for eleven consecutive years.  During his career, DP sales increased from approximately $2 million to over $280 million by the late 1980s. The company’s employment grew from less than 30 employees to over 2,800. Manufacturing facilities were established in Alabama, California, Connecticut, Canada and Swansea, Wales.  As a senior officer, Silberman was involved in the establishment of each of these facilities and DP’s products ultimately commanded a world-wide market.  As sales increased and manufacturing and product quality issues arose, Silberman was asked to also assume responsibility for manufacturing operations, which he did for the next six critical years.  He initiated and staffed the first significant product testing and research facility by a manufacturer of consumer fitness products.  At the request of the Sporting Goods Manufacturer Association (SGMA), he served as the first chairman of SGMA’s Fitness Products Safety Standards Committee and as their first representative on the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) Committee for fitness product reliability.  As a committee member he helped initiate the first national safety standards for consumer exercise equipment in the United States. Retiring in 1992, Silberman served as a business consultant and, at the request of SGMA’s president, Silberman served as his technical advisor for approximately one year before being asked by the then Alabama Governor Fob James to serve in his cabinet as Director of the Alabama Industrial Development Office.  During his four years as Director, Alabama experienced some of its most significant industrial growth. 
Silberman has been an active member of Easter Seal’s Board of Directors at the state and local level for more than 40 years and has received numerous honors and awards for his service.  In the past he has served on advisory boards at both Georgia Tech and Auburn University.  Though retired, he continues to serve in leadership roles in both city and state organizations.  He is a past president of both Opelika’s Rotary Club and Chamber of Commerce and currently serves on the City of Opelika Planning Commission.  

2014 Inductee
Bob Zide

The late BOB ZIDE’S choice of a career in sporting goods was influenced early in his life.  In high school he played varsity basketball for four years.  In the summers, while still working in the family business, he coordinated the local YMCA basketball and softball recreation leagues.  After college, while still coordinating the YMCA leagues, he also helped establish local youth baseball leagues and continued to play semi-pro baseball. Upon founding Zide’s Sport Shop in 1958, he turned his passion for sports into a lifelong commitment to athletes and their teams.  Bob Zide’s focus for 45 years was on the athlete’s enjoyment, protection and potential performance.  His primary emphasis was on providing the best possible protective equipment for each player, and he was the first team dealer in the country to individually fit helmets and shoulder pads on players, doing so for teams of all levels in West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania.  This fitting program, which was considered revolutionary, was a perfect example of Bob Zide’s dedication to the athletes.  That dedication paid off, as many of those athletes became coaches and returned to the store when purchasing football equipment for their programs.  Over the years, Zide’s Sport Shop added more salesmen, who Bob consistently and continually trained on fitting techniques.  He also included coaches, equipment managers and trainers in his hands-on sessions to educate everyone about proper fit and maintenance of the equipment from the first day of practice throughout the entire season.  His insistence on maintaining the equipment resulted in the building of a complete football equipment reconditioning facility.  Bob Zide’s close work with athletes and coaches enabled him to institute equipment improvements in both performance and protection.  He held nine U.S. patents on equipment innovations, including the ShockblockerÒ football faceguard attachment, which is used by many NFL, college, and high school teams across the country.  He was always available to act as a consultant and speaker for local, state and national groups and published articles on protective equipment in state and national publications.  Regardless of how Zide’s Sport Shop business has grown over the years, Bob Zide’s game plan was always very straightforward – to make the game fun and safe for each player that was on the field.  

2015 Inductee
David Beckerman

In 1971, DAVID BECKERMAN, a former basketball player for Southern Connecticut State University, founded Starter.  Based in New Haven, CT, Starter is an American  manufacturing company of sporting goods apparel, footwear and accessories, made famous for its authentic team satin jackets.  Beckerman was quickly able to turn his small business into one of the most successful sports and athletic apparel merchandisers in the world. At its peak in profits, Starter grossed more than $750 million a year.  Starter owes its success directly to Beckerman, who dedicated his life’s work to creating authentic apparel that capitalized on the emotional bond fans have to a sports team and/or individual players. Beckerman accomplished this by successfully being the first to enter into licensing agreements with professional sports leagues for the right to manufacture and market replicas of professional team apparel and later, to supply clothing worn on the field by professional players.  Beckerman got his first big break when, in 1976, he was able to obtain non-exclusive licensing agreements with a number of Major League Baseball (MLB) teams for the right to manufacture and market authentic replicas of MLB team jackets, jerseys and shirts. Shortly thereafter, Beckerman  expanded into headgear, active-wear and accessories. The company Starter truly took off after Beckerman was able to obtain licenses to sell apparel worn by professional players during games in 1979.  Starter instantly became famous for its satin jackets worn by Major League Baseball players.  By 1983, Starter was developing clothing with the NBA, NFL, NHL and the Canadian Football League (CFL). It was not long before Starter became a household name. Beckerman capitalized on the success using aggressive marketing strategies that lifted the brand of Starter to new heights. For example, Beckerman intentionally placed the Starter logo on the back of his baseball caps so that when fans fashionably wore the hats backwards the Starter logo was front and center.  As a result, consumers would see the Starter logo before even knowing what team the wearer was representing. His marketing strategies led to instant brand loyalty and escalated the Starter name into a fashion status symbol among fans. Beckerman sold Starter in 1999. He is currently the chairman of Acorn Group, a real estate management and investment company. Beckerman gives back to the community through The David A. Beckerman Foundation and the Beckerman Family Pace Funds. He also continues to partake in his first passion, basketball, by coaching the Pine Crest School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. and Hamden Hall in Connecticut.  

2015 Inductee
Bill Jackson

In 1930, at the age of 15, BILL JACKSON set out on an adventure of a lifetime. Not knowing much of the outdoors he headed cross country with three friends to hike the Grand Canyon. After hiking to the bottom of the canyon the four boys quickly realized they would need water to survive their hike back up. They searched the riverbank for anything they could use. They found and filled old, dirty whiskey bottles with water from the river. This was just a small adventure compared to what was to follow.  Upon Bill Jackson’s return from WWII in 1946, he attended an army surplus auction where he bought tents, sleeping bags and other goods that he would later sell out of his garage. On December 14, 1946, Bill Jackson married the love of his life, Harriet Rogers. Together, they founded the well-known outdoors store, Bill Jackson’s Shop for Adventure.  Bill Jackson got into the sporting goods industry quite by accident, he is considered a pioneer in Outdoor Specialty Sports, where he was one of the first to teach scuba diving in 1950, long before there were scuba certifications. “Teaching What We Sell” in the outdoors became part of the Bill Jackson’s experience; Scuba Classes (Beginning thru Instructor), Kids Snorkeling Camps, Gun Safety Classes, Kayak and SUP Classes, Fly Fishing and Fly Tying Classes, Camping and Backpacking Seminars, Snow Ski Lessons (in Florida), and Metal Detecting Clinics.  He was a man of great accomplishments. Most notably, he was also a founder of the St. Petersburg Underwater Club and was instrumental in turning the military operation of SCUBA diving into a sport. Bill Jackson was an outdoor pioneer who turned his visions into reality.  

2016 Inductee
Bill Battle

Bill Battle is not just the founder of the Collegiate Licensing Company (CLC), he is arguably the founder of the concept of collegiate licensing itself. In 1981, upon signing legendary coach Paul “Bear” Bryant to a licensing agreement, Battle had to first help the University of Alabama make a licensing department in which to work. From there, the CLC was born.  Battle was a visionary who understood strength and efficiency in numbers. Using a model similar to the NFL’s, Battle went door to door convincing administrators of a vision where all trademarks were regulated and available in one place. According to Battle, schools, licensees and retailers would all benefit if they just joined together.  Battle’s vision became a reality and collegiate licensing became a $4.3 billion dollar industry. He was able to develop the first label that signified “officially licensed collegiate products.” Under Battle’s guidance, the CLC grew to represent more than 200 schools, conferences and bowl games, as well as NASCAR and the PGA Tour. However, he never strayed from his passion for college sports. Bill Battle also made himself famous as a college head coach. At 29, Battle was the youngest college head coach in the country while at the University of Tennessee from 1970-1976. He is now the Athletic Director of the University of Alabama, where he once played football and was assistant coach under “Bear” Bryant.  Battle has been recognized for his tremendous leadership capabilities and the large impact he had on all facets of the sporting goods industry by several organizations throughout his career. He received a National Football Foundation award in 2008 for Outstanding Contributions to Amateur Football. In 2010, Battle was inducted into the National Association of Collegiate Marketing Administrators’ (NACMA) Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame and received its Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011.  Battle remains one of the most quietly influential figures in college athletics today. Working as CLC’s chairman and adviser at the age of 70, Battle is still essential to client relations. In fact, athletic directors still respect and call upon him, whether they have a question about business or they’re looking to hire a position. Battle is the go-to guy. 

2016 Inductee
Jack Smith

The idea behind the company that would grow to become the nation’s largest sporting goods chain in just five years came from Jack Smith, former COO of Herman’s World of Sports, who opened the first Sports Authority store in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in 1987. While at Herman’s, Smith tried unsuccessfully to bring the same comprehensive megastore concept that had fueled the tremendous growth of Toys “R” Us and Home Depot to the sporting goods industry. With the backing of a group of venture capitalists, Smith got another chance and set out to build his own sporting goods giant with the simple concept of having an unparalleled selection, competitive pricing and merchandise always in stock. After Smith opened his first store in 1987, he sold it 18 months and eight stores later for $75 million. He stayed on as CEO for the next five years while the store grew to more than 150 locations. He eventually re-acquired the company, and in 2010, the business turned over $3.5 billion and held 330 stores in the United Stated alone. At that time, the company also held an additional 50 stores in Japan with about $1 billion in annual revenue.  Smith grew his business with people who believed in his mission and created a phenomenally successful and visionary business by being different. Not just different in size or price, but different in almost every dimension. He was loyal to his employees, and he prided himself on the fact that he has frequently visited every store to make sure employees know what is expected of them. As a result of Smith’s fierce leadership skills, Smith proudly served on the board of directors of the National Sporting Goods Association for more than eight years and served as Chairman of the Board from 1997 to 1999. In addition, SportStyle Magazine in 1994 voted Smith among the top 100 Most Influential People in the Sporting Goods Industry, nearly topping the list at number two.  Smith stepped down as CEO in 2000 to enjoy his time and to serve on the Boards of Directors for other major corporations, including Fiesta Restaurant Group, Carrols Restaurant Group and Darden Restaurants, Inc. 

2016 Inductee
Jim Throneburg

Jim Throneburg says walking saved his life. More than 40 years ago, Throneburg was admitted into Duke University’s weight loss program due to excessive weight gain that caused him to suffer from life-threating illnesses.Walking was an essential component to his daily exercise regimen— how he ultimately regained a healthy weight—yet his feet caused him severe pain when doing so.  Throneburg decided to take matters into his own hands and began working with his father’s company Throneburg Hosiery to design the first padded foot protection. Subsequently, he invented the term, “activity-specific” padded sock to include all the individual activities for which a padded sock was designed.  In 1980, the company changed its name to THORLO Inc. and introduced the Thorlos® brand of padded foot protection (socks). He followed two guiding principles– being the best in the world at foot protection and sustainability of the company beyond his own lifetime.Today, THORLO Inc. is a $35 million dollar business with more than 250 employees and features a line of 32 activity specific products that are distributed throughout the US as well as 35 countries globally. Located in Statesville, North Carolina, THORLO is one of the few remaining sock manufacturers that make 100% of its products in the US.  Realizing that millions of people around the world were suffering from foot pain, Throneburg founded The Institute for Preventive Foot Health, a non-profit foundation dedicated to research and education related to preventive foot health and other foot issues. He also founded the Academy for Self-Discovery Leadership, a 501(c)(3) education organization, to prepare tomorrow’s transformation leaders today by providing a safe environment for self-discovery.  Throneburg holds more than 25 patents in the U.S. and many foreign countries and, as such, is one of the most prolific inventors in the sock, insole and shoe industries.  The Thorlos brand has been nominated by consumers nationwide as a prestigious “Lovemark,” an extremely high achievement, and doubly special for a sock product with little or no consumer advertising.

2017 Inductee
Larry Aasheim

In 1971, at the early age of twenty-four, Larry Aasheim and his friend Dick Harte boldly set out on a new business venture. The partners wanted to provide high quality, specialty sporting goods for Montana’s young athletes. With little resources and man power, they began driving around the state of Montana trying to get sporting goods orders from high school and college athletic programs.

Forty-five years later, that “backseat” startup has become Universal Athletic Service, a regional sporting goods company headquartered in Bozeman, MT that calls on and provides services to every school and college in nine states in the Western United States. Universal Athletic is considered the largest independent team dealer in the country. 

Aasheim was officially the first employee of the company, making the very first sale. In early years, he worked in all facets of the company but emphasized school sales. As the company grew, he took on management duties, and in 1989 he took over as company president and chairman of the board. 

For forty-five years, Aasheim worked out of the same building on Main Street in Bozeman and watched his company grow from two employees and $100,000 in sales to more than 250 employees and $50 million in sales. Universal now operates 13 retail locations and staffs 50 wholesale salespeople.

Throughout the years, Aasheim has been actively involved in the Bozeman community. He has been president of the Bozeman Little League, Hawk Boosters, MSU Quarterback Block and Bobcat Boosters. He has also received several prestigious awards including the Bozeman Area of Commerce Community Service Award, the North Dakota Coaches Association Service Award, the Montana Coaches Association Service Award and the T.A.B Award. 

For anyone who has been fortunate enough to work with Aasheim, they would say that no one has cared about their employees quite as much as he. Aasheim is like family to many former and current Universal employees. He creates an atmosphere of comfort and fun, and he is the first to acknowledge when great work is done by an employee. The numerous employees who have been with Universal for 10, 15 and 20 plus years are a great testament to Aasheim as a leader and a person, and the culture he has created within the Universal family.

2017 Inductee
Kevin Plank

Kevin Plank is the Founder and current CEO of Under Armour, Inc., a leading manufacturer of sports performance apparel, footwear and accessories. Plank is a pioneer in the sporting goods industry, ultimately creating a new category of athletic apparel now called performance apparel. 

The original concept for Under Armour came to Plank on the football field. As the Special Teams Captain at the University of Maryland in 1995, Plank was fed up with the heavy cotton t-shirts he had to wear under his uniform. He was the self-proclaimed “Sweatiest Guy on the Football Field,” and dreamed of a day when he was not weighed down by his soaked clothing during games. 

After graduation Plank pursued his dream, trying various materials before finding the right one – a tight-fitting, moisture-wicking fabric that could ultimately support the wearer’s muscles and help to regulate body temperature. Under Armour was born. In 1996, Plank began marketing his new product out of the basement of his grandmother’s house. Using his professional football friends to network, Plank visited locker rooms across the country, selling his shirts directly to players and equipment managers. 

A turning point for Plank was landing a $25,000 advertisement in ESPN The Magazine. Through the new found exposure and excellent word-of-mouth reviews, Plank was able to gross $1 million in direct sales in 2000, just four short years after the start of Under Armour. 

In 2003, Plank secured his first television advertisement featuring his former University of Maryland teammate Eric Ogbogu. In the commercial, Ogbogu is seen shouting “we must protect this house,” surrounded by a huddle of fellow football players. The resulting success of the commercial led to Plank adopting the popular phrase “Protect This House” as the slogan for Under Armour. Still to this day you can hear this phrase rumbling throughout football stadiums across the United States. 

In 2012, Forbes publicly recognized Plank for “changing the athlete’s experience on the playing field.” He was named number three on Forbes’ annual “40 Under 40” list and number three on Forbes’ list of “America’s 20 Most Powerful CEOs 40 and Under.”

Under Armour has recently undergone aggressive expansion, becoming an international sensation as well. Most recently, Under Armour signed a 10-year deal with the University of Notre Dame to become its official apparel supplier. This is currently the largest sporting goods deal in NCAA history, estimated to be worth more than $90 million. Under Armour is also entering deals with numerous other universities and has undergone the first-ever acquisition of a digital fitness company. 

Plank is also a major donor of the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business and Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship. He also played an integral role developing a new endowment fund for the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship to help invest in startup businesses like Under Armour. Currently, Plank sits on the University Of Maryland’s Board of Trustees. 

Plank is also on the Board of Directors for the Baltimore City Fire Foundation, the Greater Baltimore Committee and the Greater Washington Sports Alliance. He is an active member of the Board of Trustees for Living Classrooms. 

2018 Inductee
Arthur Gochman

Arthur Gochman’s success was not only in the sporting goods industry. His success started in the legal world. Arthur Gochman attended the University of Texas School of Law and served in the Army. Arthur practiced law in San Antonio, focusing on antitrust and civil rights. Gochman was extremely active in the civil rights community and in the 1950s and 1960s he helped desegregate several establishments. In addition, in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, Gochman brought the landmark school funding case San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez, in which he argued that school funding based on property taxes was inherently discriminatory against poor and minority children. As he was finishing up his military service, his father Max Gochman had implored him to join his Army-Navy store, Academy Surplus. The store originally started as Academy Tire Shop in 1938. 

In 1973, Arthur Gochman bought Southern Sales, six Army surplus stores in Houston that were much like his father’s store in Austin. He closed two of the stores and renamed the remaining four Academy Surplus. His theory was because Houston was home to many University of Texas alumni, people who had shopped Max’s stores as students in Austin would recognize the name and continue to shop them in Houston. Sales in 1973 were around $1 million. Academy continued to grow. 

In the 1980s, Academy gradually switched its inventory mix from military surplus to sporting goods. Eventually the name was changed to Academy Sports + Outdoors. Arthur Gochman believed the strategy for his stores was heavy sales and low prices. In the late 1980s, he began centralized distribution, a system by which Academy shipped inventory to its stores every day from its warehouse in Katy, Texas. Gochman remained active in the company in various roles until his death in 2010. Academy Sports + Outdoors has more than 230 stores in 16 states, supported by more than 23,000 team members throughout the South, Southeast and Midwest. Mr. Gochman passed away in 2010. 

2018 Inductee
Stan Jurga

Stan has led All Star Sporting Goods from a small manufacturing company to a leader in baseball, softball and football equipment. His company sells products for all ages – little leagues to Major League Baseball players. Jurga holds at least five patents in protective equipment and information about those patents is included in the materials. The most famous is for hockey style headgear, which revolutionized the baseball protective market. 

Jurga joined George Frost Company in 1972 as Assistant Plant Manager. George Frost was the parent company of All-Star Sporting Goods, which was started in 1960. He became the National Sales Manager of All-Star Sporting Goods in about 1977 and was promoted to Vice-President of Sales in approximately 1980. Dave Holden and Stan Jurga purchased the All-Star Division of George Frost in October of 1988 under the corporate name of Ampac Enterprises Inc. Jurga became President of All-Star in 1993 and the CEO title was added with the passing of Holden in 2011. 

2018 Inductee
Barbara Longstreth

In the early years: Barbara Longstreth graduated from Beaver College in 1958. There, she excelled in both field hockey and lacrosse. During the next 18 years, Barbara taught and coached both sports across all levels. She traveled abroad as a member of the US National Teams in both of these sports. In 1976, Barbara, her husband, and their three children moved to California where Barbara continued to teach and coach field hockey at Long Beach State, and later Stanford University. She also started club lacrosse at both schools. Other California colleges followed suit, and west coast lacrosse was born. 

In 1977 Barbara Longstreth met Mohinder Gill, a student from India. Mohinder had contacts with manufacturers of field hockey equipment. Barbara agreed to sell Mohinder’s sticks to her friends across the country. Nearly 40 years ago, from the trunk of her car, Longstreth Sporting Goods began. 

In 1981 Barbara and her friend Kathy Levinson formed L&L Sports. They expanded their line of products and added lacrosse equipment. After helping Barbara get started, Kathy went her own way. In 1981 Barbara moved back to the east coast and continued the business, now Longstreth Sporting Goods, from her home near Philadelphia. 

During the next 4 years, Barbara taught, coached 3 sports, and served as the Athletic Director at Springside School. At the same time, she did all of the ordering, advertising, packing, shipping and record keeping by herself. Her brother Dick Heylmun joined her in 1985 on a part-time basis. Barbara’s dream of a field hockey and lacrosse store was fulfilled in 1986 when a small, old, auto repair shop was leased in the village of Parkerford, PA. It was part of a complex of four buildings including an old barn which would eventually become today’s retail store. 

In 1991, Ronnie Maurek joined the Longstreth Team as a manager of the new Fastpitch Softball Division. Ronnie’s 20 year playing experience, plus her 17 years of coaching at Temple University, brought a wealth of knowledge to this new venture. A product advisory board of leading softball coaches was established to develop the company’s product line. Thus, was created the nation’s first catalog devoted exclusively to women’s softball equipment. 

In 1992 the barn on the property was remodeled and a large retail facility was established, dedicated to women’s field hockey, lacrosse and softball which still stands and thrives today. 

In the year 2000, sales were booming, there were 60 employees, products were imported from 10 countries, shipments were sent abroad daily, and all 3 catalogs were on the internet. The retail store had become a destination. Visits had been recorded from over 25 countries!

In 1998, Barbara was inducted into the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame at a formal ceremony in Baltimore, MD. The presentation speech for Barbara was by Vonnie Gros, Head Coach of the 1984 US Olympic Field Hockey Team. Barbara was one of five women to receive this honor. 

Barbara retired from Longstreth in 2007, only to continue to foster all three sports through the next generation of hands. She currently resides in Chester County, PA and is still active in the community. It is not unlikely that you may run into her at our Spring City, PA store from time to time!

Since retirement almost 10 years ago, Barbara’s legacy continues to support the development of female athletes across the sports of field hockey, lacrosse, and softball. Today, each of Longstreth core sport managers are experts in their field as previous coaches or players. Longstreth continues to foster relationships with the same suppliers that Barbara initially began her company with by providing the best possible products to keep young female athletes at the top of their game. From working with the national team, to universities and youth level programs, Longstreth strives to continue to define the women’s game just as Barbara did from the trunk of her car almost 40 years ago. 

2019 Inductee
Bob Dickman

Bob Dickman began his career in the sporting goods industry at a very early age, at Kesslers Sport Shop in Richmond, Indiana. He followed in the footsteps of his father, Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Fame honoree (1995) Cliff Dickman. Cliff purchased Kesslers in 1958 from its founder, Phillip “Whitey” Kessler, after working two years for Whitey.

Cliff and his wife, Martha Jane, became the parents of eight children. Each of the children worked at Kesslers, starting as soon as they could push a broom. They all worked there through high school and college.

Bob began full time in the business in 1976, first in retail, then traveling to area schools for team sales. He was also responsible for purchasing and interaction with the company’s buying group. Cliff entered politics at that time, with brother-in-law Bob Luerman managing the business. The untimely death of Bob’s uncle in 1982 left him in charge of the company at the age of 24.

When Bob joined the business, Kesslers had sales of approximately $1 Million annually, one location, and one outside salesman. By the early 1990s the focus of the business began to shift towards a team sales platform, and less emphasis was placed on the retail side of the business. Bob guided Kesslers on a historic expansion of the team sales division that led the company to reach nine states, with 20 sales offices and 75 sales pros. In 2002, Kesslers was recognized as the largest team dealer in the country, with sales exceeding $30 Million.

In 2004, Bob and his brothers, Phil and Dan, who were partners in Kesslers, were looking to further the accelerated growth rate for the company and its 220 employees. They decided to be acquired by Collegiate Pacific, a publicly traded company in the sporting goods catalog business. Collegiate Pacific merged with Sport Supply Group to form what is now BSN Sports, one of the largest suppliers of team uniforms and equipment in the United States.

Bob Dickman served as Chairman of the NSGA Board in 2009 and 2010. He was Chairman of the Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Fame Committee from 2011-2014. Bob is currently Senior Vice President at BSN Sports.

Bob and his wife Rhonda who married in 1980 have three children and five grandchildren.

2019 Inductee
Ronny Flowers

Ronny Flowers is the president of Athletic Supply, Inc., in Odessa, Texas. He was born in Guthrie, Texas in 1947. And at the urging of his high school principal and mentor, Ronny enrolled at Texas Tech. Each day, he attended class, worked two jobs and slept four hours. His jobs were cleaning buses at the bus station and feeding cows at the feed lot.

In the fall of 1967, a small school near his hometown asked him to teach and coach. He taught math (fifth grade and up), coached all boys sports (seventh grade and up) and drove the school bus. On the last day of school in 1968, he decided to finish his degree. Needing a job while at Texas Tech, he applied at T&D Sporting Goods. Although no sales job was available, he was hired to knock down a wall. After completing that task, the owners at T&D asked Ronny to be their shipping clerk. This began a 50-year career in the sporting goods industry and a 49-year marriage to his wife Pam, whom he met when she came into the store to buy a pair of socks.

He became a road salesman for T&D in 1970. Pam wasn’t too happy about the offer since she was pregnant, and Ronny was three hours short of graduation. Ronny prevailed by saying if the job didn’t work out, he would finish school.

Ronny never looked back. He embraced his new work. He rose early, stayed late, delivered equipment, started track meets and encouraged those around him.

In the late fall of 1972, a second opportunity came his way. The owners of Athletic Supply in Odessa were looking for a young roadman and offered Ronny the position. He moved with his young family to Odessa and began traveling to the oil-rich schools of West Texas. In the fall of 1973, Ronny and others bought Athletic Supply. Ronny later acquired all company stock and has led the company from $500,000 to nearly $30 million in annual sales. 

Athletic Supply has 55 employees covering Texas and New Mexico. As a major part of ASB Sports Acquisition, sales are approximately $100 million. The company expects to expand from Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma to a national footprint.

Ronny served two terms on the NSGA Board of Directors from 1993-98. In 2003, he was named one of the industry’s Top 30 Team Dealers. Ronny received the Distinguished Service Award from the Texas High School Coaches Association. He was inducted into the Odessa Chamber of Commerce Hall of Fame in 2002 and the Texas Football Hall of Fame in 2003. He received the Honorary Lifetime Member Award from the American Football Coaches Association in 2018.

Ronny and Pam have two sons, Tim and Ted, who are in the business.

2020 Inductee
Peter Capolino

PETER CAPOLINO didn’t feel as if he was having the proverbial wool pulled over his eyes back in 1985. Capolino was the owner of Mitchell & Ness Sporting Goods in Philadelphia when he visited an area manufacturer and saw some piles of old wool flannel lying around. Historic baseball caps were one of Capolino’s specialties and the old wool sparked an idea that baseball fans might have similar interest in vintage jerseys. Capolino’s idea with “throwback” jerseys turned out even better than he could have envisioned as he quickly made it the sole business focus of Mitchell & Ness Nostalgia Company. People of all ages are buying them for football, basketball and hockey as well as baseball. The success of the concept led to Capolino’s inclusion in the Class of 2020 of the Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Fame. Mitchell & Ness opened in 1904 and became a Philadelphia institution in the sale of sporting goods. Capolino’s father Sisto started working there in 1917 as a stockboy, bought the company in 1950 and served as treasurer of the NSGA Board of Directors from 1970-72. Peter started working for his father at age 11 and took over the store in 1978.

After Capolino came up with the “throwback” baseball jersey idea, he did extensive research to ensure even the most minute details were accurate. A Sports Illustrated story in 1987 about Capolino’s concept led to international consumer demand that helped the concept take off. Mitchell & Ness eventually began producing “throwback” jerseys for all the major sports leagues – the NFL, NBA and NHL. Capolino originally believed his idea would be tailored most for a middle-aged and older white male demographic. His employees convinced him they could target a younger urban consumer after the rap music group Outkast wore one of his jerseys in a 1998 music video. The jerseys also resonated with current professional athletes and celebrities. NBA legend Kobe Bryant, who had a Philadelphia 76ers jersey like the one his dad Joe “Jellybean” Bryant wore in the 1970s, donned replica jerseys of the Brooklyn Dodgers’ Jackie Robinson, Edmonton Oilers’ Wayne Gretzky, New York Jets’ Joe Namath and San Francisco 49ers’ Joe Montana during the 2002 postseason. Legendary director and actor Spike Lee called Capolino’s work “exquisite” in a 2003 People magazine story.

2020 Inductee
Robert Greenberg

An east coast blizzard led to a flurry of west coast success in the footwear industry for Skechers founder and CEO Robert Greenberg. The Boston native always had an entrepreneurial spirit and started dreaming of living in Los Angeles after stops there on travels to Asia. He made the move with his family after a snowstorm crippled his hometown in 1978. A visit to a shoe fair in Long Beach, California led to his launch of L.A. Gear. Then, in 1992, he started the Skechers brand that has grown to immense popularity. His impact in creating two iconic brands led to Greenberg’s election in the Class of 2020 of the Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Fame. Greenberg was in the roller skating business when his interest turned to footwear. L.A. Gear had modest beginnings with one style that came in 10 colors, but grew to a publicly traded company in 1986 that was worn by stars such as singer Paula Abdul and basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. But the brand fell on hard times and Greenberg was forced to change directions.

Greenberg and his son Michael began a successful distribution of boots and Robert saw even greater opportunities. About a year later, he launched his own utility boot and Skechers was born in 1992. The new name was a family affair as two of Greenberg’s kids suggested it since the word “skecher” meant a cool kid who has lots of energy. Skechers resonated with the public and the company expanded into the running, walking and golf categories that are part of its successful Go performance division. It was a prime example of what has made Greenberg successful – a willingness to act without fear since the creation of the Go division was the response to an idea that didn’t work out. Greenberg was honored by Footwear News with its Manolo Blahnik Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015. Skechers’ growth and success has continued as the $4.64 billion global brand has a presence in more than 170 countries with more than 3,100 company-owned and licensed retail stores.

2020 Inductee
Klaus Obermeyer

Klaus Obermeyer is clearly not wired to sit back, relax and enjoy everything he has accomplished as he approaches the century mark of his life. Obermeyer is always thinking ahead to ensure Sport Obermeyer, the company he founded in 1947, does not fall behind in the ski and snowsports industry. He is still a daily presence at the company’s Aspen, Colorado office even after celebrating his 100th birthday in December 2019. The innovative spirit dating to his early childhood is a big reason for Obermeyer’s induction in the Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Fame Class of 2020. At age 3, the German-born Obermeyer created his first set of skis from flexible crate board and string. He studied to become an aeronautical engineer before coming to the United States at age 27. After one winter, he moved to Aspen to become a ski school instructor. One of the first things Obermeyer noticed was the need for proper clothing so more people would be able to keep warm and stay on the slopes. Obermeyer made a parka from the down blanket his mother sent with him to the U.S. He joked that it resulted in him having feathers in his cereal for weeks.

What Obermeyer also had was the genesis for a company that changed the world of ski gear. Zip turtlenecks, nylon wind-shirts, mirrored sunglasses, double-lensed goggles, two-pronged ski brakes, ski boots and the first high alpine sunscreen were all created to enhance Obermeyer’s philosophy that “skiing is a celebration of life and its celebrants must be comfortable to enjoy it.” The quest to ensure that philosophy continues as the company released the light and versatile “Klaus Jacket” a year ago. But Obermeyer’s success has not come at all costs. Sport Obermeyer is conscious of the environment and researches the chemicals that can be used so the company’s garments are water repellent and are not a health hazard. He also remains fiercely loyal to retailers who sell the Sport Obermeyer brand. Obermeyer helps retailers who may have a tough season because of a lack of snow, listens to their concerns. Obermeyer’s enthusiasm for the ski and snow industry and what it means to so many people is reflected in his amazing attendance streak at the annual Snow Show. Since 1960, he has not missed the opportunity to enthusiastically greet as many attendees as possible.

2021 Inductee
Eric Bezanson

Working in a hardware store gave ERIC BEZANSON some of the necessary tools for long-term success in the sporting goods industry.

One of Bezanson’s first jobs was a buyer for the sporting goods section of T.B. Calkin Ltd., in the Canadian maritime province of Nova Scotia. Bezanson became manager of Calkin’s first sporting goods store in the mid-1960s and that led to his purchase of Cleve’s Sporting Goods in Halifax in 1972.

His involvement in the formative years with the Sports Distributors of Canada (SDC) helped Bezanson grow Cleve’s Source For Sports to 18 retail locations, two team/institutional locations and a seasonal ski hill in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Bezanson’s success and devotion to the industry made him an ideal choice for the Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Fame Class of 2021. He joins retired SDC president Randy Hooper (2012), John Forzani of The Forzani Group (2010) and Jack Cooper of Cooper International, Inc., (1979) as Canadian members of the Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Fame.

“Congratulations to Eric on your induction to the Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Fame joining the late Jack Cooper, the late John Forzani and myself as the four Canadians to be so honoured as members of this prestigious Hall of Fame,” Hooper said. “Your vision and relentless work ethic built the Cleve’s organization from a single store in Halifax to dominating sporting goods retail and team sales on the east coast of Canada. Your support of the Source for Sports group of retailers contributed strongly to the success and respect the group enjoys today.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed our relationship over the many years participating together on the boards of Sports Distributors of Canada and the Canadian Sporting Goods Association. A visit to Halifax always included a sensational lobster feast with the Bezanson family and a friendship I will always cherish.”

Bezanson played baseball and hockey as a kid but had a larger interest in business and sales. His timing for moving his family to Halifax could not have been better as the sportswear market and fitness boom took off in North America. Bezanson transformed Cleve’s focus from hunting, fishing and traditional sports to include more emphasis on athletic shoes and clothing that customers need year-round.

One of the keys for Cleve’s growth was Bezanson making sure he fought for his business but also understanding the best deal was a win-win for both parties. Bezanson’s organizational skills let brands know their products would be well-represented in Cleve’s stores.

Bezanson also devoted a lot of time back to the sporting goods industry. He served on the Board of Directors of the Canadian Sporting Goods Association (CSGA) from 1979-89 and received the CSGA Award of Merit in 1989. He also served on the SDC Board of Directors from 1989-95.

Supporting local sports has been a big part of Cleve’s success as it has outlasted challenges from other chains in its territories. Cleve’s has been a sponsoring partner of Sport Nova Scotia almost since the organization started. Cleve’s is also a title sponsor for the Sport Nova Scotia Athlete of the Month program, which rewards male and female individual athletes and teams with gift certificates to its stores and a framed certificate.

Cleve’s also supports KidSport™, a Sport Nova Scotia program that helps youth in need participate in organized sports. Cleve’s also sponsors Run Nova Scotia and donates prizes to almost any sports team or association that asks for fundraising help.

“Eric hasn’t built a business; he’s built an institution deeply rooted in empowering the communities in which they live,” said Ed Kinnaly, CEO of Bauer Hockey. “The business that Eric and his family have built reflect their values as people who genuinely care about doing good for the long-term.  We’re incredibly fortunate to have an organization like Cleve’s in our industry.”

Bezanson’s success led to recognition in 1997 from the Maritime Sporting Goods Association and as the Atlantic Canada Entrepreneur of the Year in the retail category. Cleve’s also received a Snowsports Industry Association (SIA) Canadian Retailer of the Year honor in 2013.

Thousands of employees have fueled Cleve’s success and that includes members of Bezanson’s family. His wife Anne did the bookkeeping when they bought the store. His three sons are also involved in the company – Kevin is the president and also serves on the National Sporting Goods Association Board of Directors, Peter is a buyer and Gregory operates a cresting business on the team/institutional side.

2022 Inductee
Michael Gotfredson Sr.
Road Runner Sports

Providing for his family and making the world a healthier place was MICHAEL GOTFREDSON’s inspiration to revolutionize the running and fitness industry.

Gotfredson, also referred to as Mike G., or Chief Runner, founded Road Runner Sports in September 1983, and today it is the largest running specialty retailer in the United States. His creation led to his induction in the Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Fame Class of 2022.

In 1983, Gotfredson had a wife and four kids under the age of 5 when he lost his job forcing his family to live on a tight budget. One day, he went into a running store and was appalled by the high cost of shoes and poor customer service. He believed he was not alone in his frustrations, so with an MBA from Fresno State in direct marketing, he decided to solve the problem.

His vision in the pre-Internet age was to mail catalogs to consumers with detailed descriptions of the features and benefits of running shoes and fitness products, and to sell them at fair prices, something that was unheard of at the time.

One of his first big hurdles was to open business accounts with the big running shoe vendors including Asics, Brooks and adidas. However, vendors only sold product to brick and mortar retail stores back then, and Gotfredson couldn’t afford to open his own store. So he did what any entrepreneur would do and stretched the truth. He told vendors he sold running shoes out of his brother’s car rental company to travelers. They bought it.

The vendors came on board and Gotfredson’s fledgling company began. On the first day of business, they took seven orders.  Within months, Road Runner Sports experienced explosive growth, and the excited shoe vendors asked Gotfredson to open as many “running shoe car rental shops” as he could. Gotfredson had to come clean, and admitted he mostly sold product out of a garage solely through catalog mailings and “Fit Experts” taking calls from across the country. The vendors were shocked, but had to agree the concept was valid and decided to keep supplying Gotfredson with product.

The growth continued as did the number of employees. The Road Runner Sports Customer Care Center grew from one Fit Expert to almost 200 within a few years. And Gotfredson to this day shares he has personally taken more than 50,000 phone orders and wrapped 50,000 packages.

By the mid-1990s, the Internet was born, and Gotfredson pioneered the first online sales of technical running shoes. Others followed his marketing leadership, of course. He followed that success by entering the brick-and-mortar space in the early 2000s. Road Runner Sports now has 41 physical stores focused on all facets of running and fitness. Each store is dedicated to selling the right product to fit the specific needs of consumers.

As Gotfredson’s success grew, he felt he needed to give back to his community and those less fortunate than him. So, in 2000 he founded Athletes Helping Athletes, a charitable organization that gives handcycles to children with permanent physical disabilities to help them be active and healthy. To this day, the charity has given away 1,524 handcycles, amounting to over $2,000,000, at no cost to families all across America. Some recipients have gone on to become Paralympic medal winners and now inspire thousands of others to reach for their dreams.

From the beginning, the importance of family and teamwork played an essential role in the company’s growth and success. Gotfredson’s family and kids all chipped in to help along the way. Today, three of his sons work for the company, with his oldest now carrying the torch of success as the new president.

Now, 38 years after the sale of its first pair of running shoes, Road Runner Sports can attribute its success to the special one-on-one relationship it enjoys with its customers and to the core mindset it is always going to do it differently than everyone else. The business has flourished because more than 800 employees genuinely care about their customers and make the most of every opportunity to interact with them. Every order taken and shipped, product selected for the catalog, website, retail store, catalog mailed, are opportunities to establish and develop a personal relationship.

Like many other entrepreneurs, Gotfredson’s journey has positively impacted many lives and made their personal journeys better. He is, and has been, an industry pioneer who changed the way consumers satisfy their running and fitness needs.

Road Runner Sports now has distribution centers in San Diego, California, and Columbus, Ohio. There are neighborhood retail stores throughout nine states with more on the way. The size of Road Runner Sports and the number of its locations has changed, but one thing that remains a constant is Gotfredson’s commitment to customers and their passion for running and fitness.

2022 Inductee
Bill Hunt

WILSON “BILL” HUNT started CHAMPRO in 1986 with the goal of producing team sports gear that equaled or exceeded the performance of the established brands, but at a lower cost to the consumer. He chose not to pay for professional endorsements, advertising or promotional product, but instead to pass on reduced overhead with lower prices to athletes. CHAMPRO’s growth from a limited line of baseball equipment and expansion over the years to eventually offer a complete line of team sports equipment and uniforms that can outfit players from head to toe led to Hunt’s induction in the Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Fame Class of 2022.

Hunt has always enjoyed hard work and the challenges it provided. His work career began at age 10 when he sold vegetable and flower seeds door to door. He worked before and after school and during summers selling newspapers on a street corner, pulling a snow cone wagon, flipping hamburgers at McDonald’s, mopping floors in a hospital, and as a laborer in a vinegar factory and a steel products factory. He sometimes chose the night shift so he could practice basketball and play golf during the day.
Hunt graduated from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota with a degree in economics. After a two-year stint as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ethiopia, he went to work at Berkley and Company in Spirit Lake, Iowa, as their International Buyer. Several years later he accepted a position at Wilson Sporting Goods where he became Director of the Baseball/Softball Division.

In 1986 he stepped out and started CHAMPRO. The drive Hunt has exhibited since childhood enabled CHAMPRO to grow from a family operated company to a national brand headquartered in the Chicago suburb of Wheeling, Illinois, and employing more than 600 employees based in three countries. In the early years Hunt’s family pitched in to do whatever was necessary. His wife Terese was the customer service department, picked and packed orders, and helped at trade shows. Son Ryan, who is now President of CHAMPRO, started picking and packing orders at age 10. Sons Evan and Nolan followed in his footsteps but eventually pursued careers outside the sporting goods industry.

Hunt is always looking for new ways to deliver the best value by developing new products, rethinking speed and quality of service, searching for new sourcing opportunities, and keeping overhead low. He has never hesitated to dig in at any level of the company to make sure things get done. It has never been surprising to find him in the warehouse picking orders to make sure CHAMPRO didn’t fall behind on its same-day shipping commitment.

After starting as an equipment company, CHAMPRO entered the team apparel market in the 1990s. The apparel business grew during the next 15 years, at which point he broadened the product line to include custom uniforms. Since entering the custom uniform market, CHAMPRO has developed a proprietary manufacturing infrastructure with the fastest delivery times in the industry. Custom uniforms now make up one-third of the company’s total revenue.

CHAMPRO has also made an international impact with economic development and community involvement. In 1999, through a connection from Hunt’s time as a Peace Corps volunteer, he was invited to join a U.S. trade delegation to Ethiopia. This trip led to the development of a joint venture apparel factory in Ethiopia and shortly thereafter, founding of the CHAMPRO School. The CHAMPRO School now educates more than 500 students in a rural village of Ethiopia, where it provides the only opportunity for first- through eighth-grade education. After establishing the joint venture factory, CHAMPRO made the first African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) eligible shipment from Ethiopia to the U.S. in 2000.
In 2002, the CHAMPRO joint venture factory was visited by U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, Paul O’Neill, and Bono, of the iconic music group U2, who recognized the factory as a model for development under the AGOA. More than 20 years later, CHAMPRO continues to manufacture team uniforms through four partnerships in Ethiopia.

Hunt served for 10 years as Chairman of the Ethio-American Trade and Investment Council. During his tenure, he worked with Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and the Ministry of Trade and Industry to help reduce trade barriers and simplify Ethiopia’s regulatory environment for investors.
Through founding of the CHAMPRO School, involvement with Eden Reforestation Projects, and by supporting Chicago area non-profits that provide team sports opportunities for youth, Hunt found a path to blend business with his love for team sports and his interest in improving opportunities for others.

2022 Inductee
Bill Sorenson
American Athletic Inc.

An encounter at a University of Iowa swimming pool became a life-changing moment for BILL SORENSON and the future of gymnastics.

Sorenson not only became a successful gymnast, but his transformation of the sport through the innovative creation and development of equipment led to his induction in the Class of 2022 of the Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Fame.

As a freshman at Iowa, Sorenson was a competitive diver when gymnastics coach Dick Holzaepfel came to a practice at the pool and asked Sorenson if he “had ever been on a trampoline.” Sorenson quickly mastered the trampoline at a high level as he won gold and silver medals in the AAU National Championships and was the Big Ten Conference champion in 1953. After graduation, Sorenson moved to New York and became a professional trampoline performer at Radio City Music Hall and the Palace Theater.

After six months in New York, Sorenson returned to Jefferson, Iowa but “couldn’t get the trampoline craziness out of him.” He built his first trampoline, the Aqua-Tramp, in his garage and began making diving and recreational trampolines in the basement of his father-in-law’s hardware store.

In 1954, Sorenson founded the American Trampoline Company, which manufactured and sold a full line of trampolines, including those used in high schools, colleges and universities for gymnastics competition and physical education. The company became American Athletic Inc. (AAI) in 1957, produced a full line of gymnastics apparatus and protective pads by 1961 and became the official equipment supplier to the United States Gymnastics Federation (USGF) in 1963.

Sorenson was the lead inventor on more than 10 patents for gymnastics equipment. AAI provided the competition gymnastic equipment for many major national and international competitions, including two Olympic Games, numerous World Championships, the Pan American Games and the Commonwealth Games.

AAI merged with Head Ski in 1968 and became the AMF Corporation in 1971. Sorenson became a group executive with AMF and oversaw companies such as Head Ski, Head Tennis, VOIT, Pacer Track & Field, AAI, Ben Hogan Golf and Hatteras Yachts. Sorenson had a major impact on product development for these brands, including patents for the Tip & Roll Bleacher and portable pole vault and high jump mats still used today.

In 1994, Sorenson became CEO of American Sports Products Group (ASPG). ASPG acquired Southwest Track (owner of Astro Turf), Sport Court, Basketball Products International, Connor Floors and American Athletic. Sorenson remained CEO until 2004. Although he was CEO of ASPG during the years AMF/AAI supplied equipment to world competitions, his contribution financially and high-level support enabled AAI to become one of the premier suppliers of equipment to the world and the USA-dominant market leader for more than four decades.

From 2002-18, Sorenson served on the board of Gill Athletics, which is now a holding company known as Litania Sports Group (LSG), which owns and manufactures the Gill Athletics and Porter Athletic brands. He also has a long history of service and honors in the gymnastics community. He served as chairperson of the Trampoline Sub-Committee of ASTM that wrote the first trampoline safety standard adopted by the U.S. government’s Consumer Product Safety Commission. He served as a member of the trampoline safety committee of the National Safety Council. Sorenson was inducted into the U.S. Gymnastics Hall of Fame in 1978 and the U.S. Trampoline and Tumbling Hall of Fame. He also served on the Board of Directors of the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame and in 2016 was presented with an award for promoting and growing the sport in the United States.

Sorenson’s contributions to the gymnastics world are undeniable. Under his leadership, AAI developed technically superior apparatuses that notably increased the safety and performance of gymnasts. AAI has been the most innovative and creative force in the manufacturing of gymnastics and related equipment in the world. It played a significant part in lifting USA Gymnastics and its athletes to world prominence that continues today.