CLEVELAND (WJW) — The Greater Cleveland Sports Hall of Fame on Tuesday inducted four people: a Cleveland Browns legend, an Olympic gold medalist, a hall-of-fame volleyball coach and “a baseball voice we all cherish,” according to a news release.
Tuesday’s ceremony at the Cleveland Marriott Downtown at Key Tower honored former Browns championship quarterback Bernie Kosar, Olympic gold medal-winning pole vaulter Katie Nageotte, Elyria volleyball coach Carol Russo and longtime Cleveland baseball broadcaster Tom Hamilton.
Kosar, of Boardman, is “one of the most beloved sports figures in Cleveland history,” according to the release. He graduated early from the University of Miami to begin playing for the Cleveland Browns at the old Municipal Stadium. Over nine seasons as quarterback, he led the Browns to three American Football Conference championship games.
“He ranks second in Browns’ history with 21,904 passing yards, completing 58.8 percent of his passes with 116 touchdowns and 81 interceptions,” reads the release. “Three times during his tenure with the Browns, Kosar set records for most consecutive passes without an interception (286, 308 and 308). He took the franchise to the playoffs five times and threw for 489 yards in an overtime win over the NY Jets in 1987.”
Nageotte, of Olmsted Falls, is the third woman to win a gold medal in pole vaulting for the U.S. Olympic team, taking home the top honor in her first Olympic outing last year in Tokyo. She attended Olmsted Falls High School, the University of Dayton and Ashland University. She hopes to compete in the Paris Olympics in 2024, where she could become the second woman with consecutive gold medal wins in the pole vault, according to the release.
“As a high school senior, she was the 2009 OHSAA Division I champion,” it reads. “Nageotte won two NCAA Division II titles and was a three-time Division II All-American. She won gold at the 2018 U.S. Indoor Championships, silver at the 2019 U.S. Outdoor, gold at the ’19 U.S. Indoors and silver at the ’19 Indoor Championships. COVID knocked her back in 2020, but she persevered to break an Olympic Trials record in July of 2021 before going to capture gold in Tokyo.”
Russo, a 27-year volleyball coach, led the Elyria High School Pioneers volleyball team to its first state semi-finals victory and state championship game in 1996, ending with a 28-1 record, according to the release. It was Russo’s third team to make the state tournament. Her teams also won 14 district championships and 18 conference titles across four leagues. Her career record is 575-126.
“She was inducted into the Volleyball Coaches Hall of Fame in 1998, Elyria Sports Hall of Fame in 1999, and selected to the prestigious AVCA (American Volleyball Coaches Association) Hall of Fame in 2012,” reads the release. “Russo played volleyball for her mother, Sue, at Oberlin High School as well at The Ohio State University. Carol and her mother, Sue, were the first mother-daughter combination to coach teams in the Ohio state tournament.”
Hamilton, of Waterloo, Wisconsin, this year marked his 33rd season calling Cleveland baseball games, according to the release. He joined Herb Score in the broadcasting booth in 1990 and has called all the Cleveland club’s 94 postseason games since then, including the team’s World Series runs in 1995, 1997 and 2016. He is tied with Rick Manning for the longest tenure on TV and is only one year shy of Score’s 34-year tenure.
“Tom, joined in the radio booth with Jim Rosenhaus, calls the action and commentary for all 162 regular season games and 15 spring training contests on Newsradio WTAM 1100, 100.7FM WMMS and the 30-station Cleveland Clinic Guardians Radio Network,” reads the release. “Tom arrived in Cleveland after three seasons calling AAA Columbus Clippers action, the top farm club of the New York Yankees (1987-89).”
Hamilton was unable to attend Tuesday’s ceremony, as he was at Yankees Stadium in New York City calling the Guardians’ final American League Division Series game.
“I’m so sorry that I couldn’t be there with all of you tonight. I know I’m very disappointed not to be there but duty does call,” he said in a prepared statement. “I want to thank the Greater Cleveland Sports Hall of Fame for this incredible honor.”