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
Basketball was still in its infant stages as a sport in the early 1900s, and at the University of Wisconsin Chris Steinmetz was considered the father of the sport.
Steinmetz, a graduate of South Division High School in Milwaukee, did not actually start the sport at Wisconsin, but generally is credited with being the first to popularize it and give UW some national recognition.
For years, he held all-time single scoring records for most field goals, free throws and points. In 1904-05, he scored 462 points, an average of 25.9 points per game. His total was 23 points more than all the Badgers’ opponents scored as a total for the season.
He scored 50 points in the 1904-05 season opener at Sparta. He hit 15 field goals and 20 of his 25 free throws in a 75-10 UW win.
For more of the story, go to the Immortalized in Bronze features link below.
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 and Al Simmons stories are archived in features below.