For the past 58 years, the Robert “Tick” Cloherty – Western Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame has honored and inducted over 735 incredible men and women who have made a lasting impact in Pennsylvania through extraordinary athletic achievement and contributions. Whether these activities have been achieved on or off the field, we honor them here.

William "Billy" Conn

Year Inducted:1966

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In the Heavyweight championship fight for the Title in 1941 Conn, a light-heavyweight, was far ahead of Heavyweight Champion Joe Lewis before being knocked out in the 13th round.

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James "Jim" Daniell

Year Inducted:1966

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Educated in the Mount Lebanon Public Schools, Kiski Prep School and Ohio State University in 1942. Was the captain of his high school team in 1935, Kiski Prep team in 1937 and Ohio State in 1939,’40.’41. He was named to several All-American Teams, and played in the East-West Shrine Game in 1942. Going in to the Navy, he played for Navy training station team in 1942.

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Thomas "Tommy" Davies

Year Inducted:1966

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Tommy was an All-American at the University of Pittsburgh in 1918,’20 and ’21 gaining 4,620 yards. Assistant coached at the University of Pennsylvania. Head Coach at Geneva, Allegheny, Rochester University, Scranton University, and Western Reserve.

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Johnny Woodruff

Year Inducted:1966

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John Woodruff, a former track standout at Connellsville High School, blazed into the record books with his Gold Medal victory in the 800 meters at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin.

In his high school days, Woodruff had wanted to play football, but his mother felt the practices took up too much of his time, so he was encouraged by a coach to join the track team.

Meanwhile, Woodruff had decided to quit school.

As he recalled, “This was Depression times and there was very little money in our house, so I figured if I could find some kind of job I could earn a little bit of money and help out at home. I quit school, but when I went looking for work, nobody was hiring. I was turned down everywhere. So I decided to go back to school.”

In spring, when it came time for track to begin, Coach Joseph “Pop” Larew approached Woodruff about trying the sport. His mother agreed, since he would be getting home earlier than he had in football and could get his chores done.

The first time he ever ran in scholastic competition, Woodruff won both the 880-yard and mile runs and, before he graduated in 1935, he owned new school, Fayette County, district and state records, plus, in 1935, he broke the national school mile record with a 4:23.4 winning time.

His athletic ability caught the attention of local schools and Pitt and Ohio State were at the top of his list.

“I was interested in Ohio State because Jesse Owens was there, but there were some business people in Connellsville who were also Pitt men and they got me a scholarship to Pitt. If it wasn't for that scholarship, I couldn't have made it. I was the only one from my family to go to college.”

Times were tough and Woodruff struggled to get by in college.

“I reported to Pitt with 25 cents in my pocket. Some people in Pittsburgh helped me get a room at the YMCA in the Hill District and I had to fight the bedbugs for sleeping space. Pitt track coach Carl Olson gave me $5 and since hamburgers were a nickel and hot beef sandwiches were 20 cents, I made that do a week.”

Woodruff was only a freshman at the University of Pittsburgh in 1936 when he placed second at the National AAU meet and first at the Olympic Trials, earning a spot on the U.S. Olympic team. In one of the most exciting races in Olympic history, Woodruff became boxed in by other runners and was forced to stop running. He then came from behind to win in 1:52.9. The New York Times described the race:

He remembered the anguish of his Olympic race: “Phil Edwards, the Canadian doctor, set the pace, and it was very slow. On the first lap, I was on the inside, and I was trapped. I knew that the rules of running said if I tried to break out of a trap and fouled someone, I would be disqualified. At that point, I didn’t think I could win, but I had to do something.”

Woodruff was a 21-year-old college freshman, an unsophisticated and, at 6-foot-3, an ungainly runner. But he was a fast thinker, and he made a quick decision.

“I didn’t panic,” he said. “I just figured if I had only one opportunity to win, this was it. I’ve heard people say that I slowed down or almost stopped. I didn’t almost stop. I stopped, and everyone else ran around me.”

Then, with his stride of almost 10 feet (3.0 m), Woodruff ran around everyone else. He took the lead, lost it on the backstretch, but regained it on the final turn and won the gold medal.

It was another gold medal for the United States’ so-called Black Auxiliaries — the Nazis’ term for the black athletes — and another thorn in the side of Adolf Hitler, who greeted every white winner, but none of the blacks.

Every winner in the 1936 Olympics received an oak tree from the Black Forest of Germany, presented by the German government. John brought his home, and presented it to the city of Connellsville. It was planted at the south end of the city football stadium, where today it still stands more than 60 feet straight and tall.

During a career that was curtailed by World War II, Woodruff won one AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) title in the 800 meters in 1937 and won both the 440-yard (400 meter) and 880-yard (800 meter) IC4A titles from 1937 to 1939. Woodruff also held a share of the world 4x880-yard (800 meter) relay record while competing with the national team.

Woodruff graduated in 1939, with a major in sociology, and then earned a Masters Degree in the same field from New York University in 1941. He entered military service in 1941 as a Second Lieutenant and was discharged as a Captain in 1945. He reentered military service during the Korean War, and left in 1957 as a Lieutenant Colonel. He was the battalion commander of the 369th Artillery, later the 569 Transportation Battalion New York Army National Guard.

Woodruff also worked as a teacher in New York City, a special investigator for the New York Department of Welfare, a recreation center director for the New York City Police Athletic League, a parole officer for the state of New York, a salesperson for Schieffelin and Co. and an assistant to the Center Director for Edison Job Corps Center in New Jersey.

He passed away on October 30, 2007 at the age of 92.

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Chick Davies

Year Inducted:1965

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Chick Davies served as the head men’s basketball coach at Duquesne University from 1924 -1948, compiling a record of 314 – 106. His teams played in one NCAA Tournament and three National Invitation Tournament. He led Duquesne to the 1940 NCAA Final Four as well as the 1940 NIT championship game, where the Dukes lost to Colorado.

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Frank "Butch" Snyder

Year Inducted:1965

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Frank “Butch” Snyder was the oldest of eight children born to German parents in Erie, PA He began working in bowling alleys in the early 1900’s. In 1918, he bowled his first tourney at age 31 and went on to maintain a 192 average while competing in ABC competition for 42 years. He and Mike Flick captured the 1927 ABC doubles title. Butch was a member of three state Championship teams.
He was a popular lane manager and was proprietor of the Commodore Bowling Alley in Erie for many years. In November, 1965, at the age of 78, he was recognized as a PA State All-Star. Butch finished his ABC career with an average of 190.83 in 46 years of competition.

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Charles D. "Charley" Hyatt

Year Inducted:1964

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A Native of Syracuse, New York, Charley was an exceptional Shooter. Scoring a then outstanding 880 points throughout his career at the University of Pittsburgh. He was named an All- American three consecutive years and was the Helms Foundation Player- of-the-Year in 1930. The year he led the nation with a 12.6 points per game average.

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Honus Wagner

Year Inducted:1964

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Johannes Peter “Honus” Wagner (February 24, 1874 – December 6, 1955), nicknamed “Hans,” has the distinction of having the most expensive baseball card on the market – a T206 1909-11 by Sweet Caporal cigarettes. Wagner was also nicknamed “The Flying Dutchman” due to his superb speed and German heritage. Perhaps the greatest right-handed hitter he had remarkably long arms. The greatest shortstop of MLB’s All Century Team, Wagner was also one of the greatest hitters of the century with a .329 batting average, 3,430 hits and all in the dead-ball era. His big-league career (1897-1917) started with the Louisville Colonels and with the Pittsburgh Pirates when they obtained his contract in 1900. In 1917 he played and managed the Pirates for the last five games of the season in 1917. His phenomenal career included eight National League batting titles (1900, 03, 04,06-09, 11), five-time RBI leader (1901,02,04,07,08), and five-time stolen base leader (1901,02,04,07,08). Honus was one of the original five induction members to the Baseball of Fame in 1936. He was a hitting coach for the Pirates from 1933 through 1952 and a beloved ambassador of the game. Wagner coached baseball and basketball at Carnegie Institute of Technology. Two biographies of Wagner are worthy for review: Honus Wagner: On His Life and Baseball by William Cobb (2006) and Honus Wagner A Biography by Dennis and Jeanne DeValeria (1998). According to Hall of Famer John McGraw, "It's too bad the present generation really has no adequate picture of Wagner, no complete impression of his greatness and genius."

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Pete Dimperio

Year Inducted:1964

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Dimperio was born in 1905 in Pittsburgh, where he attended Fifth Avenue High School. He earned a bachelor's degree from Thiel College in Greenville and a master's degree in physician education from Springfield University in Illinois. He and his wife, Adeline, also had a daughter, Peggy. From 1946 to 1966, Dimperio had a record of 118 wins and five losses, and he took his foootball team to the City of Pittsburgh championship 21 years in a row and at the time was one of the most successful high school football coaches in America.

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Paul "Big Poison" Waner

Year Inducted:1964

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Paul Waner (April 16, 1903 – August 29, 1965) nicknamed “Big Poison” was a right fielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1926 through 1940 and with the Braves, Dodgers and Yankees to conclude his Hall of Fame career in 1945. A four time All Star (1933-35, 1937) and prolific hitter winning three National League batting championships collecting 3,152 career hits. Waner (3,152) and his younger brother, Lloyd (2,459), hold the career record for hits by brothers (5,611), outpacing the three Alou brothers (5,094): Felipe (2,101), Matty (1,777) and Jesús (1,216), and the three DiMaggio brothers (4,853): Joe (2,214), Dom (1,680) and Vince (959). For most of the period from 1927 to 1940, Paul patrolled right field at Forbes Field while Lloyd covered the ground next to him in center field. On September 15, 1938, the brothers hit back-to-back home runs against Cliff Melton of the New York Giants. The origin of the nicknames "Big Poison" and "Little Poison" that were given to Paul and his younger brother Lloyd, respectively, is from a game at the Polo Grounds during the 1927 season when a fan pronounced "person" as "poison" as he called out to the brothers. Paul was a finalist for the MLB All Century Team. An interesting sidenote on Waner was his astigmatism; he did not like wearing glasses on the field as it made the ball appear smaller and in focus, but without glasses the ball looked grapefruit sized. With the larger apparent size of the baseball, he was able to hit the center more often.

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Delvin Glenn "Del" Miller

Year Inducted:1964

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Delvin Glenn "Del" Miller was a driver, trainer and owner in the sport of harness racing as well as an important breeder after acquiring Adios to stand at his Meadow Lands Farm in Meadow Lands, Pennsylvania. During a career that spanned eight decades, Miller won major races in the United States as well as in France.
He won $11 million and won 2,442 races.

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Pie Traynor

Year Inducted:1963

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Harold “Pie” Traynor (November 11, 1898 – March 16, 1972) was a National League third baseman for the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1920 to 1935 with a stint as Pirates’ manager from 1934 through 1939. He was considered the best fielding third baseman of his era. Traynor batted .320 over his career with two All Star appearances in 1933 and 1934. Traynor was part of the 1925 World Series champion Pittsburgh Pirates when they defeated the Washington Senators. Later in his career he was a Pirate scout and radio broadcaster. In 1948 the Baseball Writers placed Traynor in the Baseball Hall of Fame. He was a finalist for MLB’s All Century Team in 1999.

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Stanley Frank "Stan" Musial

Year Inducted:1963

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Stanley Frank "Stan" Musial (November 21, 1920 – January 19, 2013), nicknamed "Stan the Man", was an American Major League Baseball (MLB) outfielder and first baseman. He spent 22 seasons playing for the St. Louis Cardinals, from 1941 to 1944 and 1946 to 1963. Musial batted .331 over his career and set National League (NL) records that have since been beaten for career hits (3,630), runs batted in (1,951), games played (3,026), at bats (10,972), runs scored (1,949) and doubles (725). He was a seven-time batting champion and MVP winner 3 times. He also won 3 World Series Championship titles with St. Louis while being selected for 24 All-Star games. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1969 and later was bestowed the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2011. He was selected to the MLB All-Century Team in 1999.

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