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.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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 NMRA Men's 45+ Doubles and Mixed 45+ at the 2016 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.  

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. 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

INFO COMING SOON

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

12320 Old Tesson Road, St. Louis, MO 63128 E-mail: dwhitley@vettasports.com Tel: 314-842-3111 x1102