Founding of the Hall
The Milwaukee Arena was brand new back in 1951, a state-of-the-art facility for sports and other entertainment.
It needed a permanent resident, and got one when the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame was inaugurated. For more on the founding of the Hall, go to the features link at the bottom of this page.
The First Class
The first induction ceremony of the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame was a gala affair. Dignitaries joined sports fans from around the state at the spanking new Milwaukee Arena for a banquet and the unveiling of the bronze plaques honoring “the first class” to go into the Hall.
Joe Krueger, city treasurer of Milwaukee and the founder of the Hall, always had a flair for the dramatic. One-by-one, he introduced the men yes the first class included all men and read the inscriptions on the plaques, which would hang in the foyer of the Arena.
That first class included the first batter in World Series history, Ginger Beaumont; baseball greats Addie Joss, Al Simmons, Charles “Kid” Nichols and Al Simmons; bowler Chuck Daw, football legends Bob Zuppke, David Schreiner, Pat O’Dea and Ernie Nevers; wrestler Ed “Strangler” Lewis; boxer Richie Mitchell and Olympian Ralph Metcalfe, who along with Jesse Owens had put down Hitler and Nazism with great performances in the 1936 Games.
For more on that first class, go to the features link at the bottom of this page.
The Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame is dormant as this is being written, but the stories of the more than 100 members of the Hall are very much alive.
Plus, a group calling itself the Wisconsin Sports Legacy Group, has started a Revive The Hall movement to restore the Hall. You can access a Facebook page about that effort by clicking here. If you can help in anyway, leave a message on that FB page or on the message board for this site at the botton of this page.
Immortalized in Bronze started as a book idea about the Hall of Fame members. It has never been published in book form, but is being established here as a way of conveying some of those Hall of Famers stories. Perhaps the effort also will lead to a revival of the Hall and the book idea.
The Milwaukee Arena was brand new back in 1951, a state-of-the-art facility for sports and other entertainment. It needed a permanent resident, and got one when the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame was inaugurated. Large bronze plaques of the inductees hung in the entrance-way and stayed there for most of five decades, until they moved to the Walk of Fame, a large outdoor promenade outside the Arena, now called the U.S. Cellular Arena.
The Hall has been through several administrative groups over the 50-plus years since its founding. Financial restraints and other difficulties have led to its dormancy, but the stories of the Hall of Famers live on.
See some of those stories by checking out the links to the stories in the left hand column of this site and below.
Featured HOFers Of Month
Wisconsin Olympic Hall Of Famers
State Hall of Famers Mark and Bob Johnson brought Olympic fame to the state through hockey. Wisconsin has been a farm system for Olympic speedskaters. From fellow Hall of Famers Eric and Beth Heiden to Bonnie Blair and Dan Jansen, and others, state skaters have won medals.
To mark the Winter Games in Russia, we are running short stories of the Hall of Fame skaters. Click on the link below to see those stories.
Also Archived on the link are stories about: Ginger Beaumont, Addie Joss, Strangler Lewis, Richie Mitchell, Kid Nichols, Chuck Daw, Ralph Metcalfe, Don Hutson, Johnny "Blood" McNally, Billy Sullivan, Pat O'Dea, Ernie Nevers, Ed Konetchy, George McBride, Hank Aaron, Eddie Mathews, Alan Ameche, Clarke Hinkle, Oscar Robertson , Chris Steinmeta and Al Simmons stories are archived in features below.