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Melges sails into Hall of Fame

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Gazette Staff
November 9, 2007

Zenda’s Harry “Buddy” Melges Jr., a two-time Olympic medal winner in sailing, is one of six sports figures who will be inducted into the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame tonight.


The induction ceremony will take place at the Midwest Airlines Center in Milwaukee. The cocktail hour and silent auction will begin at 5. The official dinner and ceremonies are scheduled to start at 7 p.m.


Since 1951, nearly 125 individuals have been inducted into the Hall of Fame, including Henry Aaron, Bart Starr and Reggie White; leaders such as legendary coaches Curly Lambeau, Vince Lombardi and Al McGuire; and renowned announcers from Earl Gillespie to Bob Uecker.


Melges, dubbed the “Wizard of Zenda” for his sailing exploits, is recognized as one of the most successful competitive sailors in history, with dozens of national and international championships in many different classes.


Melges won an Olympic gold medal in 1972 and bronze in 1964. He was a two-time Star world champion (1978, 1979), a three-time 5.5 Meter World Champion (1967, 1973, 1983), a five-time E-Scow National Champion (1965, 1969, 1978, 1979, 1983), a seven-time Skeeter Ice Boat World Champion (1955, 1957, 1970, 1972, 1974, 1980, 1981) and a three-time Yachtsman of the Year.


To cap off his competitive career, he helped steer America3 to a successful defense of the America’s Cup in 1992.


Every two years, a new group of Hall of Fame members is selected and inducted in an awards ceremony and presented a large bronze plaque that immortalizes each inductee at the Walk of Fame outside the US Cellular arena in Milwaukee.


The other inductees tonight include basketball coach Dick Bennett, NFL star lineman Mike Webster, Milwaukee Brewer Cecil Cooper, Milwaukee Bucks owner Sen. Herb Kohl and sportsman Fred Miller.


Here is a look at the accomplishments of the other inductees:


Dick Bennett: Bennett began his collegiate coaching career at UW-Stevens Point, where he won 173 games. He was named NAIA Coach of the Year after leading the Pointers to a 28-4 record and national runner-up finish in 1984.


In 1985, Bennett moved to UW-Green Bay. Bennett took the Phoenix to the second round of the NIT tournament in 1990 and led the team to its first NCAA tournament berth in 1991.


In 1995, Bennett was named the head men’s basketball coach at Wisconsin. During his tenure at Wisconsin he posted a 94-68 record. He led the Badgers to the Final Four in 2000. He took Wisconsin to three NCAA tournament appearances and earned one NIT bid.


Bennett was the first Wisconsin coach to win 20 games in a season. He retired from the University of Wisconsin in November 2000.


Cecil Cooper: Cooper was selected by Boston in the 1968 draft and made his major league debut with the Red Sox in 1971. He was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers before the 1977 season.


A five-time All-Star with the Brewers, Cooper played in 1,490 games for Milwaukee and finished his 11-year Brewer career with a .302 average, 201 home runs and 944 RBIs. He hit .300 or better from 1977 to 1983. Cooper was named the Brewers’ team MVP in 1980, 1982 and 1983 and helped the Brewers win the American League pennant in 1982.


He was a two-time Gold Glove winner and a three-time Silver Slugger Award winner. In his 17-season Major League career with Boston and Milwaukee, Cooper played in 1,896 games posting a .298 lifetime batting average with 241 home runs and 1,125 RBIs.


Sen. Herb Kohl: Kohl was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1988. Before his election, Kohl helped build his family-owned business, Kohl’s grocery and department stores. He served as president from 1970 through the sale of the corporation in 1979. Kohl is widely recognized as a dedicated Wisconsinite, sports enthusiast and philanthropist.


In 1985, he bought the Milwaukee Bucks basketball team to ensure that the NBA franchise remained in Milwaukee. Kohl also donated $25 million to the University of Wisconsin, the largest single donation in University of Wisconsin System history, for construction of the sports arena that bears his name.


Frederick C. Miller: A Milwaukee native, Miller was a lineman for Knute Rockne’s Notre Dame football team from 1926-1928 and earned All-America honors in 1927 and again in 1928. He achieved the ultimate honor for a Notre Dame football player, being named captain in 1928.


Miller graduated from Notre Dame in 1929 and worked in several family businesses before joining the family brewery in 1936 as vice president. He became president in 1947.


Miller was instrumental in the building of two Milwaukee sports facilities—the Arena for basketball and County Stadium for baseball—and was an important figure in local business and community affairs, helping to bring the Boston Braves to Milwaukee in 1953.


He was killed in an airplane crash near Milwaukee’s Mitchell Field on Dec. 17, 1954. Miller was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1985.


Mike Webster: After a stellar collegiate career at the University of Wisconsin, where he was named All-Big Ten in 1972 and 1973, “Iron Mike” Webster was selected in the fifth round of the 1974 draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers.


Webster played more seasons (15) and more games (220) than any other player in Steelers history. He was the team’s offensive captain for nine seasons and recorded a string of 150 consecutive starts between 1976 and 1986. Webster was a member of four Super Bowl winning teams and played in six AFC Championship games.


Webster was named All-Pro seven times and played in nine Pro Bowls. He played his final two seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs. Webster was named to the NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time team and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1997.


Webster, a Tomahawk native, died in September 2002.



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