While the Baseball Mural records Portsmouth’s rich baseball history, this mural recognizes Portsmouth’s many other sports and the stars representing those sports, all from this area. 

Jeremy Bates

Nicknamed “The Beast”, Jeremy Bates was a successful boxer from 1999 to 2006 with a 23 wins – 19 by K.O., 17 losses, and 1 draw, including 22 KO’s, and a shot at fighting four-time heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield.

Bates made his professional wrestling debut on November 15, 2008, in Ashland, Kentucky, at Ohio Championship Wrestling’s November Reign, where he defeated Vinnie Viagra. He defeated “The Driller” Eddie Browning on December 13 at OCW’s Season’s Beatings.

Bates got his third victory at OCW on January 10, 2009, at the New Year’s Bash by defeating NWA All-Star Wrestling Heavyweight Champion “Pretty Boy” Stan Lee. Bates made his wrestling debut at an arena where he is undefeated in the boxing ranks, the Veterans Memorial Fieldhouse in Huntington, West Virginia, at 304 Wrestling’s Battlefront. He defeated Vinnie Viagra in that outing.

Tom Blackburn

As the University of Dayton’s first head basketball coach, Blackburn helped establish Dayton as a national college basketball powerhouse through the 1950s and early 1960s, advancing to the NIT Finals six times in what, at that time, was regarded as the more prestigious post season college basketball tournament, winning the tournament in 1962.

From 1947-1964, Blackburn had a 352–141 record (.714) as the Flyers head coach, held a 22–12 record (.647) in postseason play, and named to the University of Dayton Athletics Hall of Fame in 1969 (posthumously). The University of Dayton Arena playing court is named after Blackburn. 

Barbara Stevens Cleveland

As a nationally renowned Water Skier and part of the Cypress Garden Water Ski team, Barbara Steven Cleveland began skiing in national tournaments in 1966.

After skiing for several years in the Senior Women division, where she regularly dominated (clean sweeps in all three events in 1971 and 1972), she returned to ski in the Open Women division in 1977, 1979 and 1981. She was a member of the U.S. Team in 1973, placing third overall, and similarly was third overall in the 1972 Pan American Championships. She was also selected to the U.S. Team for the first Senior World Championships. 

Stevens was awarded the American Water Ski Educational Foundation Award of Distinction in 1997, and was inducted into the Florida Water Ski Federation Hall of Fame in 2003.

Chuck Ealey

A graduate of Notre Dame High School and the University of Toledo, Ealey finished both his high school and collegiate careers without a single loss. Leading the University of Toledo to 35 consecutive wins in during a three year span, including 3 top 20 finishes and 3 straight Tangerine Bowl victories – winning the MVP award for all three seasons.

In 1971, Ealey’s senior season, he was named First Team All-American by Football News, Second Team All-American by the United Press International, and Third Team All-American by the Associated Press. He also finished eighth in the voting for the 1971 Heisman Trophy. 

Ealey finished his career as a three-time first team all-conference selection, and a three-time Back of the Year selection in the Mid-American Conference, leading the conference in passing yards in 1970 and 1971. His jersey is one of four retired jerseys in the history of Toledo football, and he was elected to the MAC Hall of Fame as a charter member in 1988.

Heading to the CFL, Ealey signed with the Hamilton Tiger Cats, leading the team to an 11-3 record his rookie year, and first place in the East Division – winning the CFL’s Most Outstanding Rookie Award, and being named the CFL All Star team.

In 1972 Ealey lead Hamilton to a 13-10 victory in the 60th Grey Cup, securing the MVP award for the game, passing for 291 yards and rushing for 63 yards. Retiring in 1978 due to injury, Ealey ended his seven season career with 13,326 passing yards and 82 touchdowns.

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Mark Frazie

Dubbed the “Golden Boy”, Frazie was a five-time Tri-state champion for Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia and was ranked No. 1 in the lightweight division of the National Boxing Association.

Compiling a record of 29 wins and 9 losses with 16 KO’s between 1980-1988, Frazie also competed with the 1976 US Olympic boxing team.

Brian Gahm

a national drag racing champion, Gahm won back-to-back world championships in 2002 and 2003, becoming the first driver to officially run a 6.4, 6.3, and 6.2 elapsed time in the International Hot Rod Association championships. Over his career, Gahm has won 11 national events.

Curt Gentry

A three-sport all-state senior at Portsmouth High School in 1955, Gentry enrolled at Miami University to play basketball and football, but left in 1958 to join the Harlem Globe Satellites, a professional basketball team formed by former Harlem Globetrotter Rookie Brown.

After being drafted by the Army in 1960, Gentry served 22 months before returning and accepting a four-year scholarship to play football at Maryland State (gained by simply writing a letter to the university, never mentioning his previous college career). Gentry was drafted by the Chicago Bears in the 17th round of the 1966 NFL draft, playing defensive back from 1966-1968.

Retiring from football in 1970, Gentry coached college football at six different schools: Holy Cross, Northwestern, Alabama A&M, North Carolina A&T, Lincoln (Mo.) University and Paul Quinn College in Waco, Texas, and was inducted into the University of Maryland Hawk Hall of Fame in 1982. 

Read more about Curt Gentry

Lida “Fe Fe” Mathews-Tingly

A medalist in the U.S. Women’s Amateur tournament in 1965, Fe-Fe was also a quarter-finalist in 1965 and 1966, a U.S. Women’s Open Second Low Amateur in 1980, and New England Women’s Champion twice; Women’s Ohio State Champion four times. She was Connecticut Women’s Golf Association Champion eight times and is in the state Hall of Fame there.

Elbie Nickel

Nickel starred in three sports at the University of Cincinnati – he was an end on the football team, a top scorer on the basketball team, and was a pitcher and outfielder on the baseball team.

As professional football player with the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1947-1957, Elbie is considered one of the best tight ends in the Steelers’ history. Selected in the 15th round of the 1947 NFL Draft, Nickel led the NFL in yards per catch with a 24.3 average in 1949, but his best season was in 1952 when he posted 55 receptions for 884 yards and nine touchdowns, all of which were Steelers’ records at the time. 

Nickel finished in the top 10 in the NFL in receptions in both 1952 (second) and 1953 (third); in the top 10 in the NFL in receiving yards in 1949 (eighth), 1952 (sixth), and 1953 (seventh); and in the top 10 in the NFL in receiving touchdowns in 1952 (fourth) and 1956 (seventh).

He was selected for the Steelers Hall of Honor in 2019, and the Kentucky Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2022.

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Ray Pelfrey

Born January 11, 1928, Ray grew up in Ohio and went to both Auburn and Eastern Kentucky Universities. Lettering in track, basketball and football, Ray made his presence known as an all-around star athlete. He was also a golden gloves boxer, ranked as one of the top amateurs in the state. 

In 1951, Ray was drafted by the Green Bay Packers, where he played Half Back, Punt Returner, Punter and stood out as a Wide Receiver. He also started as Wide Receiver for the Dallas Texans in 1952 and the New York Giants in 1953, where he played with hall of famer, Frank Gifford. Ray scored a total of 10 Touchdowns in his NFL career.

Credited as first person in football to truly study the kicking game and break it down to a science, the combination of his love to teach/coach, along with his knowledge of the kicking game quickly turned into what would be his business for the next 30 plus years. Between him and his son, Rob, they were running up to 50 kicking/punting camps a year, nationwide. People would fly from all over the country for a private lesson with the renowned coach.

Ray wrote several books about kicking and has many patents to his name; most famously his kicking shoes and leg lock bags. Ray played a vital role in shaping the modern kicking game, and his legacy will hold strong with the countless number of kickers that he coached; from grade school and college to dozens of NFL standouts.

Dave Pyles

Lettering four years in a row at Miami (Ohio) University, and playing for two years in the USFL with the Tampa Bay Bandits, Pyles made the 1987 Los Angeles Raiders squad, playing in 2 games that season.

Brett Roberts

Best remembered for being named the Ohio Valley Conference Men’s Basketball Player of the Year and leading the NCAA Division 1 in scoring, averaging 28.1 points per game during the 1991-1992 season, Brett Roberts was a four-year letterwinner in basketball and a three-year letterwinner in baseball for Morehead State from 1987-92. Roberts is the only basketball player from Morehead State to ever lead the nation in scoring. He also won the Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year that season.

Roberts ranked fifth on MSU’s all-time scoring list and sixth on the all-time rebounding list at the time of his induction. He was drafted in the 1992 NBA draft by the Sacramento Kings.

Also a standout pitcher for the Eagles’ baseball team, Roberts was drafted in the third round of the Major League Baseball Association (MLB) Draft in 1992. He pitched in the AAA ranks of professional baseball before electing to return to Morehead State to finish his degree. 

Brett was inducted into the Morehead State University Hall of Fame in 2002.

Mike Schuler

Winning the 1987 NBA Coach of the Year award in his first season as a coach (with a 49-33 record), Mike Schuler coached the Portland Trail Blazers from 1986 to 1989 and the Los Angeles Clippers from 1990 to 1992. He was one of only 5 coaches to have received the Coach of the Year award in their first season. During his time with the Trailblazers, he recorded a .602 winning percentage.

He also served as assistant coach to Sacramento Kings and Minnesota Timberwolves before retiring following the 2004-2005 season.

Robin Hagen Smith

As coach of Shawnee State’s women’s basketball team in 1983, Robin had a five-year, 76-52 record by 1988 when Shawnee State transitioned into a four-year school and began competing in the NAIA. 

Over the course of her 30 year coaching tenure, her teams built a 713-213 record (with 637 NAIA wins), 18 tournament appearances, won 10 conference championships and an NAIA Division II national championship in 1999, making her the NAIA’s All-Time Active Winningest Coach. 

Hagen-Smith’s career reached the ultimate platform during the 1998-99 season when her team went 31-2 overall and won the NAIA National Championship. Her National Championship victory came against St. Francis (Ind.), 80-65. That team was inducted as a group to the Shawnee State Hall of Fame and still stands as the only team in school history to capture an NAIA Championship. Following that run to the national title, she was named the NAIA Coach of the Year and coached the only NAIA Player of the Year in Program history.

In her 18 NAIA Tournament appearances, Hagen-Smith went a combined 27-17. In addition to her appearances in the NAIA Championship games, the Bears also made Fab Four showings during the 1995 and 2011 postseasons. The 2011 run to the Fab Four came in the program’s first season as an NAIA Division I school under which the Bears have been competing since. SSU also made the NAIA Quarterfinals six times and was 14-4 in first round games under Hagen-Smith’s leadership.

She was inducted into the NAIA Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2011, the Rio Grande Athletic Hall of Fame (Class of 1989), South Webster Hall of Fame (Class of 1998) and Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame (Class of 2010). She is also a member of Shawnee State’s Hall of Fame and was inducted with the inaugural Class of 2000.

Junior Spencer

Competing in twenty-five NASCAR events between 1964 and 1971. During the time period of 1964 and 1965 (ages 27-28) he drove the #17 Mullins Ford owned by Jerry Mullins of Hamlin, West Virginia. Most of those came in 1965 when he scored the seven top-ten finishes of his career. One of those was his career-best effort, a 5th at Fairgrounds Raceway in Birmingham, Alabama, while his best points finish was 28th (also in 1965)

In 1968  he was the late model track champion at the Southern Ohio Speedway in Wheelersburg, Ohio, and track champ at Atomic Speedway near Chillicothe in 1959, 1960, 1961 and 1963 in the sportsman class, as well as the West Virginia State Champion in 1971 via the Ona Speedway in Ona, West Virginia.

Spencer was inducted into the Inaugural Class of the Southern Ohio Speedway Hall of Fame in 2011.

Adam Stevens

As NASCAR Cup Series Crew Chief, Stevens has worked with drivers Kyle Busch, David Ragan, and Christopher Bell. In 2015 Stevens became the first crew chief since Jeff Hammond in 1982 to win the championship during his rookie season, and following a second championship in 2019, became just the 15th crew chief in Cup Series history to win multiple championships.

Gerald Cadogan

Excelling in football at Portsmouth High School assisting the Trojans to multiple playoff appearances. Cadogan was a four-sport star at Portsmouth High School, lettering in football, track, swimming, and basketball. He was named first team Associated Press All-State in football his senior season. The Youngstown Vindicator named Cadogan All-Conference twice. He was also an Ohio finalist for the Wendy’s High School Heisman, and was the Portsmouth Daily Times Sportsman-of-the-Year. 

He played in the 2004 Big 33 Football Classic and the Ohio North-South All-Star game.

Playing as a Penn State Nittany Lion, Gerald earned first-team Academic All-America and Academic All-Big Ten honors in 2007, and was a 2008 candidate for college football’s prestigious Draddy Trophy, presented annually to the nation’s top college football student-athlete. At season’s end, he was named a consensus first-team All-Big Ten selection and was awarded the conference’s Sportsmanship Award. He was also named an Academic All-American for a second time. 

Following his football career, Gerald returned to Portsmouth, where he teaches and coached the swimming and boys track teams and was an assistant football coach at Portsmouth High School, and was named the first ever swimming coach for Shawnee State University in 2019. 

Gordon Collett

Ottway native Gordon Collett was the winningest driver of all-time in the NHRA Top Gas dragster category with 7 national event wins. 

Collett won the Bakersfield Fuel and Gas Championship in 1963 and 1964, the NHRA Divisional Championships in 1964 and 1965, and the AHRA Winter Nationals in 1965. He was a member of the Car Craft Magazine Drag Racing All Stars for Top Gas Dragsters in 1968, 1969, and 1970.

He was the first to win the Winter Nationals three years in a row (1966, 1967, and 1968), was inducted in the NHRA Hall of Fame in 1998, and the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame in 2006.

Read more about Gordon Collett