The 25 most influential people in Toledo SportsWritten by | |
Toledo is a town of sports diversity, where the fans’ attention is drawn in a thousand different directions. Still, there are uniting facets, teams, players and personalities that define the scope and scale of our fandimonium.
Here is a list of the 25 most influential people on the Toledo sports scene; a snapshot of who defines us, who entertains us, who informs us and who champions our city.
1. Joe Napoli
Toledo Mud Hens
As the driving force behind “the world famous” Toledo Mud Hens, Joe Napoli has utilized his position as a means for greater things for Toledo. His greatest achievement will forever be the hand he played in helping create what Newsweek called “the best minor league park in the country,” Fifth Third Field. Napoli has ensured that the crowds keep coming downtown, spawning a community around the ballpark the city desperately needed. He’s done such a great job running the team, the Toledo Storm begged to be taken over and run the way the Hens are.
2. Mike O’Brien
Athletic Director, UT
In three short years, O’Brien has hemmed in a budget deficit that was spiraling out of control, placed in motion plans for a major overhaul of Savage Hall, and helped place Toledo athletics on the national map. He’s done such a great job, he’s had two job offers in the past month. Overseeing an NCAA Division I program is no easy task, yet O’Brien has helped the University grow in national prominence in a short time. Through on-field success and national television exposure the Rockets football team could appear on TV 17 times between 2003 and the end of this season.
3. Judd Silverman
Tournament Director, Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic Presented by Kroger
It sounds like a Cinderella story from “Caddyshack”: Twenty-six -year-old caddie in the spring of 1982 borrows a jacket and pitches a golf tournament in his hometown of Toledo to then-LPGA Commissioner John Laupheimer. It’s in the hole! Twenty one years later, the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic Presented by Kroger is one of the most popular stops on the LPGA tour, with a total purse in excess of $1 million and nearly $4 million given to local charities.
4. Edward Scrutchins
Director of Athletics and City League Commissioner, Toledo Public Schools
Scrutchins has been responsible for the spectrum of all the athletic happenings of Toledo Public Schools and all competition in the Toledo City League since 1986. He’s well respected and it’s never in doubt who’s in charge, but most importantly, he’s a role model and mentor to area athletes.
5. Tom Amstutz
Head Football Coach, University of Toledo
The University of Toledo has appeared on national television 10 times the past two seasons, and has the potential for seven more in 2005. When the nation sees Toledo athletics, they see Toledo Tom. Most of the time he’s on the winning end, and that brings pride, prestige and prominence to the University, alumni and the city.
6. Frank Corsoe
Sports Editor, The Blade
New to Toledo from Dayton, where he had baseball Hall of Fame writer Hal McCoy on his staff, it’s Corsoe who determines the lead sports story in your daily newspaper. Too much Tigers and not enough Indians? Girl’s sports buried? Sick of Notre Dame? Talk to Frank.
7. Jimmy Jackson
All-City and a state championship at Macomber, All-American at Ohio State, a distinguished 13-year NBA career, Jackson plays for the Phoenix Suns and is arguably the greatest basketball player in Toledo history. Jimmy remains a Toledoan, and has invested heavily and prominently in his hometown. He’s also the most prominent Toledoan to “make it” in professional sports, and serves as an inspiration to all local hoopsters with NBA dreams.
8. Walter (Chip) Carstensen
President, Buckeye CableSystem
True, the idea belonged to Alan Block, but as president of Buckeye CableSystem, Carstensen is responsible for ensuring that the all-Toledo, all-the-time sports channel reaches approximately 134,000 subscribers. Though just over a year old, BCSN has had a tangible impact on the local athletic scene.
9. Norm Wamer
Program Director WLQR
He not only co-hosts the only local Toledo sports talk program, Wamer also determines what else you hear on Toledo’s only all-sports-talk station WLQR (1470 AM). Be it Tigers, Mudhens, pro sports or ESPN talk radio, Norm makes sure The Ticket is your ticket in Northwest Ohio.
10. Ben Williams
Former Scott High School Basketball coach
He retired in 1998, but after his 24-season career, which includes 11 City League Championships and a state title, Williams is still a looming figure not only at Scott High School, but in the local community as well.
11. Mike Miller
Vice President/General Manager, Toledo Storm
Some would say Miller has an easy job selling hockey to Toledo (Detroit is only 45 minutes away), while others would say the job is more difficult (Detroit is only 45 minutes away). Miller has recently staved off extinction of the team. He has fielded a competitive team, despite crumbling accommodations.
12. Dick Cromwell
Head Football Coach/AD, St. Francis High School
With two state championships and 12 state play-off appearances, Cromwell is the dean of City League Football coaches. Just because he’s a member of the Ohio High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame, doesn’t mean you should write him off as past his prime, as the Knights are as competitive as ever on the gridiron.
13. Rich Arbinger
Head Baseball Coach, Start High School
In 30 seasons, Arbinger has amassed a 685-185 record, the fifth best in Ohio High School baseball history. With 14 district championships and two state championships, Start baseball is truly a dynasty.
14. Rob Powers
Sports Director, WTVG-13
Never mind awards (Rob has received an Emmy and has been awarded five First Place Ohio Associated Press Awards, including the Ohio Best Sportscaster Award) or the personality (Powers is so entertaining and engaging he fills in the anchor chair), the Power Pack is must-see TV on Friday and Saturday nights for high school sports.
15. Ed Heintschel
Basketball Coach, St. John’s Jesuit High School
Coaching the Titan hoopsters for 26 years, Heintschel won 11 City League championships, though he lacks a state title to complete his resume. He’s also sent a number of players to Division I schools, furthering their careers while cementing him as a coach who develops talent.
16. Stan Joplin
Men’s Basketball Coach, University of Toledo
Sure, half the town wanted him gone after last season. But Joplin has a year left on his contract, perhaps his career. He has the second most wins (153) in Rocket hoops history. His nine years have also helped restore the program to respectability after a long drought.
17. Jim Tichy
Sports Director, WNWO-24
The dean of local sportscasters with more than 30-years at Channel 24, Tichy is rock solid and has received countless awards. He is one of two broadcasters enshrined in the City League Athletic Hall of Fame and remains a staple of WNWO.
19. Leroy Bates
Basketball Coach, Libbey High School
Libbey high school has a lot to cheer for, as Bates has built a program as competitive as any surrounding school in the area. With 13 years of superior teams, Bates has a program that attracts legendary players, and is well on his way to creating a legendary program.
18. Devin Vargas
The Glass City’s Olympic hero has turned his attention to beating the hell out of people for a paycheck and is doing so in his own backyard. Vargas has also moved into the promotional side of the game, as his company, ‘Devistatin’ Promotions,’ hopes to make Toledo a town full of fight fans.
19. Dan Cummins
Sports Director, WTOL-11
The face of Big Board Friday Night, Cummins has been with WTOL for 25 years and is perhaps the most-seen face of all local sports anchors, as Channel 11 regularly wins the ratings war.
21. Arthur Hills
Arthur Hills/Steve Forrest and Associates
A world-class golf course architect, Hills has designed more than 160 courses around the world and in our backyard including Brandywine Country Club and The Legacy. His team is also called in to get a course into shape for PGA and USGA Championships and has done work on Inverness (in preparation for U.S. Senior Open), and Oakland Hills Country Club (in preparation for U.S. Open and Ryder Cup).
22. Jamie Farr
Actor, Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic Presented by Kroger
Look at it this way; if it weren’t for Jamie Farr, the LPGA would play at the Danny Thomas Tournament. Farr has been a tireless supporter of not only the LPGA, but is the main reason the Mud Hens are world famous, thanks to his prominent wearing of Hen
memorabilia on M*A*S*H.
23. Michael Rickard,
Athletic Director, Owens Community College
Michael Rickard has served the Owens athletic programs full-time for 20 years. He was named “Athletic Director of the Year” for 1995-1996 and 1999-2000 by the Ohio Community College Athletic Conference (OCCAC). Under his guidance the program has thrived and grown in stature and numbers.
24. Christine Brennan
Columnist, USA Today/Author
Granted, Christine Brennan writes for a national newspaper, but this Ottawa Hills native has frequently dropped Toledo sports stories into her column. She’s also gracious with her time, returning to the area to lend her name to worthy causes.
25. Bruce Gradkowski
Quarterback, University of Toledo
As he enters his senior season, Gradkowski is on the Heisman watch and NFL Draft radar, making him the highest profile football player to emerge from the University of Toledo since the early ’70s. If all goes well, Gradkowski may one day join Randy Moss, Chad Pennington and Ben Roethlisberger as NFL superstars from the MAC.