MORA Hall of Fame
The Missouri Racquetball Hall of Fame began in 2011 and celebrates the rich history of Missouri Racquetball. The Hall of Fame is composed of not just influential players, but also important contributors.
GEORGE BAKER -- INDUCTED 2013
George Baker was instrumental in the development of intercollegiate racquetball in Missouri and brought prominence to the state of through his voluntary efforts. He started a team at then-Southwest Missouri State in the mid-eighties. The 1987-88 squad was his first to make waves in collegiate racquetball when the unknown doubles team of Brian Bliss and Mark Isley shocked the field and won the Men’s Doubles title.
Outstanding at networking and fundraising, Baker was able to acquire full ride scholarships for the team and bring top talent to the university from all over the country and Canada including several athletes who went on to become world and pro champions in the sport with the likes of Tim Sweeney who remains the only four-time men’s champion. With the dominating talent he organized, the university began its run of four consecutive national team championships.
Baker’s efforts created name recognition for the university on a state and national level. He was awarded the 1990 Presidential Award by the (then-) AARA for his leadership and contributions to the Missouri Racquetball Association.
FRAN COHEN -- INDUCTED 2012
Fran Cohen won the first United States Racquetball Association Open National Singles Championship in 1970. To this date, no other woman from Missouri has accomplished this feat. Fran won numerous racquetball tournaments in St. Louis. She was a stable fixture in women's tournaments around the area.
BRUCE ERICKSON -- INDUCTED 2013
Bruce started his winning career in 1987 by taking first place in the 19+ division in the Midwest Regional Championships. His winning streak continued and in 1989, he was a quarterfinalist in the Open division at the National Singles Championships. He was also a bronze medalist at the U.S. Olympic Festival in Oklahoma. He has won numerous Intercollegiate championship and finished first in National doubles in the 25+ division both in 1991 & 1992. In 1996 he won the National singles championships in the 30+ division. He has won the Missouri State Championships in the Open singles division 3 times. He has also won the state championships in doubles in 2007. He currently resides in St. Louis with his wife Kim and their two daughters.
ANDY GROSS -- INDUCTED 2023
Andy Gross grew up in St. Louis, MO. and began playing racquetball at the young age of 7 following his older brother, David to the “J” to play. It was shortly thereafter he met some of the greatest players and the pioneers of the sport.
Andy won the 7, 9, 10, 12 & 13 and under junior national regional age groups sending him to the junior nationals and winning or placing in the finals in every year he played. Andy played racquetball for Parkway Central in 1983 at just 15 as a freshman and was a varsity player and did not lose a game the entire season. He won the MO. state championship men’s open division in 1983 at just 15 years old in Jefferson City, MO.
Later that year he became the youngest player in history still to this day to qualify for and play in a sanctioned professional racquetball tournament at just 15 years old.
For the next 6 years he was consistently ranked amongst the top 12-16 players in the world, when racquetball was at its peak in popularity. In 1987, at the age of 19 Andy won a Men's Professional event in St. Louis. Many of the greats were in the draw including, Marty Hogan, Doug Cohen, David Gross, Ben Koltun, Mike Ray, Jack Newman and Jerry Hilecher. Andy beat Jerry Hilecher in the finals to win the title.
Andy and his brother David made the cover of National Racquetball Magazine June 1984
Andy moved to California to pursue his comedic aspirations but continued to play and winning more satellite pro events than any other player in history winning over 60 first place tournaments. He retired from competition as age 26 to pursue his comedy career full time. He is happily married with 4 beautiful children.
DAVID GROSS -- INDUCTED 2023
David Gross began playing rball in 1974 at the young age of 9 at the JCCA. He immediately excelled and won his first tournament just 6 months later in the men’s novice division. At the age of 12 he has won the Junior National Regionals as well as 1st place in the boys 12 an under and 13 and under divisions. By the time he was 14 he was ranked #1 in St. Louis on the Men's Open division at a time when all the pros were playing. He won the Men’s Missouri State Open title 2 years in a row and became a full time pro by the time he was 17. From 1983-1989 he was consistently ranked amongst the top 12-16 professional players in the country. He was known for his pin point accuracy, control, concentration and had one of the smartest games along with the smoothest strokes on the tour. He beat just about every top player in the sport including Mike Yellen, Cliff Swain, Jerry Hilecher, and Dave Peck. David and his brother Andy where on the cover of National Racquetball June of 1984. Together they also won many doubles tournaments.
He also played for Parkway Central high school and never lost a game for the years he played.
He continues to play recreationally and lives in Los Angeles working in entertainment and finance.
JERRY HILECHER -- INDUCTED 2011
Jerry Hilecher grew up in St. Louis, graduating from Parkway West High School in 1972 and receiving his Undergraduate degree in Economics at the University of Missouri in 1976. Considered one of the 10 best racquetball players of all time, he played in the finals of over 100 professional events. He has performed in over one thousand clinics and exhibitions around the world and has 10 National and International titles including the World Racquetball Professional Championships in 1976. Jerry was ranked in the top 4 on the Pro Tour for 10 years in a row, and held the #1 ranking in the world in 1981. Jerry has served as president of the Professional Players Association. He has also coached the United States Junior Olympic racquetball team in 1992 & 1993. He has been inducted in the Missouri Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, and the USA Racquetball Hall of Fame. He currently is President and Owner of Gateway Telnet, a Communications and Data company and resides in Northridge California.
RITA HOFF -- INDUCTED 2011
Rita was the first female pro from Missouri. She was voted by the USAR as one of the top 32 female players of all time. She played her first pro tournament in December of 1976. She was quickly known for her power and was one of 5 women players that originated the Women's Professional Racquetball Association in 1978. Rita was consistently ranked in the top 3 nationally on the pro-tour from 1978-1983 and won 7 professional tournaments. She gave lessons & clinics for kids and adults at Coryell’s, the Spauldings, and finally the old Town & Country (currently MAC). She participated in many charity exhibition matches with pro athletes from around the area. She currently lives in the St. Louis area.
MARTY HOGAN -- INDUCTED 2011
"Smokin Hogan” is considered to be the greatest player to ever play the game. He started his career in 1975 and played on the pro tour for 20 years. He was named to the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, the US Jewish Hall of Fame, World Racquetball Hall of Fame, and the Ladue High School Sports Hall of Fame. He was ranked the #1 player in the world from 1976-1981 and in 1989. He was an 8 time Professional National Champion, a 1975 USRA National Champion, 1975 Junior National Champion, and 1976 Canadian National Champion. He has won National Doubles three times (1994, 1996, and 2001). In 1997, he won the state championships and in 1999 won the seniors at the US Open.
He was named racquetball player of the year six times and voted Athlete of the Year by Racquet Magazine along with Chris Everett. He has the highest winning percentage in a professional racquetball career and in a season. He has authored many publications and videos and has made numerous national T.V. and publication appearances including ABC’s Superstars, CBS news with Dan Rather, Sports Illustrated, People, US, GQ, and Time magazine.
Hogan who was born and raised in St. Louis and currently makes his home in Chesterfield, MO with his wife and two kids.
The ST. LOUIS JEWISH COMMUNITY CENTER-- INDUCTED 2022
The St. Louis Jewish Community Center (the J) is considered to be one of the birth places of Racquetball. At one time, the J had 21 courts and hosted numerous leagues and tournaments, including Pro Stops, Legends tournaments and the very First Racquetball Nationals in the country in 1969. Several national and international Racquetball Champions learned to play and honed their skills at the J and numerous others mastered the sport while playing at the J, including Marty Hogan, Jerry Hilecher, Steve Serot, Ben Koltun and Andy and David Gross, Linda Hogan and Fran Cohen. The J continues to be the home of many Racquetball players and Racquetball leagues.
JOHN KLEINSCHMIDT-- INDUCTED 2015
John Kleinschmidt is considered not only one of the best doubles player around due to his precise passing game, but also one of the smartest. He is known for his mental toughness and consistency. He started playing at a young age and played through High School for Fort Zumwalt. In 1991, he was an intercollegiate champion with Southwestern Missouri State University and named to the 1991 Men's All American Team at the World Championships. In 1999, he won National Doubles in the 30+ division, with partner Chris Wright, beating Pros Drew Katchik and Michael Bronfeld in the semis and Steve Lerner and Jeff Conine in the Finals respectively. He won both the National Masters Men's 45+ Doubles (2016 with Chris Wright, 2021 with Dan Whitley) and Mixed 45+ (2016 with Shari Coplen) Senior/Masters. To top of his illustrious career he is also a 9 time Men's Open Doubles Champion, a 9 time Mixed Open Champion, and a 2 time Men's Open Singles Champion in the Missouri State Championships.
JOE "DOC" KOESTNER -- INDUCTED 2015
Koestner stepped up to volunteer when there was a need for a coach at SLUH in 1985 and then went on to build a juggernaut as the St. Louis University High School Junior Billikens came to dominate state and national competitions. It’s a legacy that now led to the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame inducting Koestner in the Class of 2016.
With Koestner in charge, the Junior Billikens have not had a losing season since 1990 and have won sixteen national championships since 1998, including its twelfth consecutive in 2023. It’s quite a dynasty. No other team has won more than five national titles, according to USA Racquetball. Additionally, Koestner’s program has won 22 state titles.
BEN KOLTUN -- INDUCTED 2012
Born and raised in St. Louis, Ben Koltun started playing racquetball at the age of 12.
His first career win came in 1975 at the age of 17 when he won the junior nationals. The following year, he won the Open Nationals. In 1977, he won pro rookie of the year in which he received a scholarship and a new Dotson 280Z. In addition, the same year he finished in the top 4 ranking and was a semi-finalist in Pro Nationals. He had many career wins over top players including Hogan, Brumfield, Keeley, Bledsoe, Peck, Yellen, Strandemo, Hilecher, and Serot.
IONA LONG BALDWIN -- INDUCTED 2011
Iona was responsible for starting the High School Programs in St. Louis. She was the pioneer of the High School League as we know it today. She was first introduced to racquetball in 1971. She fell in love with the sport and became the first woman’s director of Spalding racquetball clubs. She not only taught racquetball, but also knew directors at each club. She began all the youth programs for Spaulding. She wrote a large manual for both women’s and youth programs that were used by 22 clubs. She began the High School league and nurtured it till the program grew to include 26 boys school and 22 girls schools. After leaving Spaulding, she coached the Parkway West girl’s team and watched her daughter win the Missouri State Championships. She has won many Gold & Silver medals in the Senior Olympics and Masters tournaments.
KIM MACHIRAN -- INDUCTED 2022
Kim starting playing racquetball in High School at the age of 16 for Lindbergh High. Gifted athletically in High School, she also played competitive tennis, softball and ran track. In 1989,her good friend Lauren Sheprow attended a women’s professional racquetball event in Atlanta and returned so enthusiastic that she convinced Kim to start training seriously and join her in giving the pro tour a shot. After 5 years she broke the top ten, finishing #6 at year end! She quit playing in 2005, having finished in the top 10 three times on the Women's Pro Tour. She is also a 2X U.S. Open Champion in the Open Age Division, 9X Women's State Open Champion, 2X Open Doubles Champion and also winning 4 State Open Age division titles.
She has 2 children Rebecca and Matthew and is currently living as STL working as a Senior Project Manager and plays competitive golf.
STEVE SEROT -- INDUCTED 2011
Steve Serot was one of the top players of all time. He was the first St. Louisan to become a racquetball superstar. In 1973, at the age of 17, he upset Charlie Brumfield to win the first pro stop ever and took home the top prize of $1500.00 for first place. He also holds the title of the youngest player ever to win a pro racquetball tournament. Considered to be the first real power player, he held the #2 ranking in singles finishing in the semis or better 50 times. He held the #1 ranking in doubles for both indoor and outdoor winning 4 International Doubles championships between the years of 1973-1976. He won the sportsmanship of the year award in 1978. Even today, Steve’s backhand is considered one of the best of all time. Currently, Steve is President of the financial services company Steve Serot and Associates. He lives in West County with his wife Debbie and 2 stepsons Jeffrey 15, and Connor 10. His daughter Julie, 26, is getting her PhD in Marine Biology at Hong Kong University.
PHIL SMITH -- INDUCTED 2012
Phil Smith started as a handball player at the St. Louis Jewish Community Center. He co-authored a book on handball called “Sports Illustrated Handball”. He coached some of the nation’s top racquetball players, including Steve Serot. His career at the Jewish Community Center spanned 32 years. Phil passed away in 2009 at the age of 87.
CHRIS WRIGHT -- INDUCTED 2011
Chris Wright started playing racquetball at the age of 14. He started playing Men’s Open at the age of 15 and won his first Open tournament at the age of 16. He held the #1 position for High School Racquetball with a record of 53-1. The highlights of his career include being a Gold Medalist with wins as 25+ National Champion, 30+ National Doubles Champion, 30+ National Mixed Doubles Champion, and the 35+ U.S. Open Champion. In 1996, he was first alternate to the U.S. team. He is a 7 time State Champion in the Open division and a 5 time Regional champion. He has also coached Lafayette High School to 3 state championships. He has won over 50 Open tournaments. He currently resides in St. Louis with his lovely wife and 3 children.
JEN YOKOTA -- INDUCTED 2015
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JOE ZELSON -- INDUCTED 2012
Joe Zelson, along with his partner John Halverson, won the 1970 and 1972 National Doubles Championships in the mens’ age 40 bracket and frequently won the Invitationals with partner Dr. Bill Sellars from Texas. Joe was responsible for furthering the careers of many of the top racquetball players in the country. He coached and mentored Marty Hogan, Ben Koltun, Steve Serot, Danny and Doug Cohen, and Jerry Hilecher.
JERRY ZUCKERMAN -- INDUCTED 2013
Jerry began playing racquetball at the age of 16. At the age of 18, he won Junior Regionals in Ft. Worth TX beating non other than Marty Hogan. In 1974, he won Junior Nationals. 1977 was a big year for Jerry. First, he played a tournament in Topeka, KS and took home a new Toyota car for first place. That same year, he won the IRA Nationals in Detroit with over 150 players with wins over Mike Yellen and the defending champion. He also won the National Racquetball Clubs Nationals in San Diego in 7 rounds with wins over Marty Hogan and Steve Trent. He topped the year off by being named the Male Athlete of the year for 1977-1978. He placed 2nd with Jerry Hilecher at Pro Nationals. He was sponsored by Catalina Sportswear and Ektelon. Currently retired from racquetball, he still resides in St. Louis and works for Edward Jones. Jerry is also the author of 3 Children's books. Dr. Z's Menagerie