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Hammond Sports Hall of Fame - The Inductees Class of 2002
HSHOF HomePage
2002 Program

Frank Blocker

Crystal Burns Moore

Dan Candiano

Harry W. Colias

Wally Fritz

James M. Gasvoda

Bob Haley

Mark Murakowski

Jeff Tharp

Tony Vermejan

Amy Werkowski-Pleasant

Joseph C. Winkler

Year 2002 Program
Social hour begins at 5 p.m., dinner is at 6:30, and the induction program is at 7:30.

This year’s inductees are: late Hammond High/Purdue football player Frank Blocker, 1970s Hammond High girls sports pioneer Crystal Burns Moore, former Hammond High track and cross country coach Dan Candiano, 1950s Hammond Tech wrestling state champion Harry Colias, 1930s Clark three-sport standout Wally Fritz 1960s Morton all-state football player James Gasvoda, 1960s Hammond High state wrestling champion Bob Haley, 1970s Hammond High football standouts Mark Murakowski and Jeff Tharp, 1980s Morton and Purdue University Calumet basketball star Tony Vermejan, 1980s Bishop Noll and University of Illinois shot put/discus honoree Amy Werkowski-Pleasant and late Catholic Central/Purdue/pro football player Joseph C. Winkler.


After a legendary high school football career at Hammond High during 1909-11, he went on to Purdue, where he earned All-Big Ten honors as a guard and captained the ’15 team. A big, agile player, Blocker became one of college football’s first roving centers on defense, a forerunner to the linebacker position. So effective was Blocker that other college teams adopted the position in their defensive schemes. After graduating from Purdue in ‘16 with a degree in engineering, he embarked on a brief professional football career, playing with the Hammond Pros, predecessor of the Chicago Bears. In ’18, when the franchise moved to Chicago, Blocker is reported to have been the team’s highest paid lineman. He closed out his football career playing for the Gary Elks in ’20 and ‘21 and went on to serve as city engineer of Hammond and, later, Calumet City, Ill.

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This 1973 Hammond High graduate helped pioneer girls high school sports in Hammond. Starring on basketball, volleyball, and track and field teams, she competed under the Girls Athletic Association (GAA) administrative umbrella, which preceded Indiana High School Athletic Association-sanctioned interscholastic competition. In track, she ran the anchor leg on Hammond High’s GAA state championship 220-yard relay team in ‘72. As a basketball player, she played both the rover position during the six-player era and then point guard when GAA adopted the standard five-player rules. After completing her high school career, she remained active in Hammond sports, coaching various youth and school teams. She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from Calumet College of St. Joseph.

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An outstanding distance runner in high school (Gary Lew Wallace) and college (DePaul), where he set school and university records in the mile during the 1960s and early ‘70s, he went on to achieve remarkable success as boys track and cross country coach at Hammond High from ’71 through ’76. Each year during that time, he led the Wildcats to conference championships in both sports. During a three-year period (’74-’76), Hammond High cross country teams won 38 straight dual meets. He coached individual state champions and national record holders. His extraordinary coaching methods helped 14 of his runners earn NCAA Division I scholarships. Three of them—fellow Hammond Sports Hall of Famers Rudy Chapa, Tim Keough and Carey Pinkowski—turned the high school track and field world upside down in ’75 when they managed the unprecedented fete of each breaking the 9-minute mark in the 2-mile run.


This 1955 Hammond Tech graduate was the Indiana high school 120-pound state wrestling champion in ‘55. He also earned third place state honors as a 112-pounder in ’53 and a 103-pounder in ’52. Additionally, he was a sectional champion in ’52, ’53 and ’55 and claimed conference honors in ’55. He was inducted into the Indiana High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in ’89. While at Tech, he also ran on the cross country and track teams.

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A multi-sport standout at Hammond Clark, this 1940 graduate earned all-state honorable mention honors on the football field as a halfback. He also played guard on the basketball team and was a track team sprinter. Away from school, he also enjoyed an accomplished baseball career as a catcher in American Legion and semi-pro circuits, earning a tryout with the Cincinnati Reds. After his playing days ended, he involved himself in community and church activities.

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This two-time, all-state tight end helped trigger Morton’s run to the 1965 mythical state football championship under the direction of coach and fellow Hammond Sports Hall of Famer Maurey Zlotnik. Continuing his career at Purdue, he converted to tackle and earned two varsity letters before graduating in ‘70. As a Boilermaker, he played on a Jack Mollenkopf-coached squad in ’68 that was ranked No. 1 nationally for five weeks. A versatile high school athlete, he also starred on Morton basketball teams.

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As a Hammond High wrestler (Class of 1962), he was a state champion in ’61 (127 pounds) and ’62 (133 pounds), his latter title helping the Wildcats to a team state championship. The 2-time Wildcat team most valuable performer continued his mat career at Indiana University (Class of ’69), where he earned three varsity letters. At Hammond High, he also was a standout on the cross country and track teams, earning seven letters and achieving MVP honors three years in cross country. Also inducted into the Indiana Wrestling Hall of Fame, he went on to coach high school wrestling for 10 years.

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An all-state football player and track and field state champion in two events, this 1980 Hammond High graduate enjoyed a remarkable 2-sport career for the Wildcats. A 3-year football starter, he was a 2-way tackle on conference championship Wildcat teams that compiled a 29-3 record during his three seasons. He earned all-state recognition in ’79. The following spring, he placed first in the shot put and discus at the Indiana high school track and field state meet. The Times honored him and fellow 2002 inductee Jeff Tharp as the newspaper’s Athletes of the Year in ‘80.

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A 3-sport Hammond High standout, he earned all-state football honors in 1979 as an offensive tackle. The 2-way lineman also gained all-conference honors for his play on both sides of the ball. Continuing his gridiron career at Northern Illinois University as an offensive tackle, this ’85 graduate earned all-conference recognition and induction into the NIU Football Hall of Fame. In high school, he also starred in wrestling, winning sectional and regional titles as a heavyweight his senior year. On the baseball diamond, he excelled as an all-conference pitcher, catcher and designated hitter. He and fellow inductee and Hammond High teammate Mark Murakowski received The Times Athletes of the Year recognition in ’80.

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After a standout basketball and baseball career at Morton High (Class of ’82), he walked on the Purdue University Calumet basketball team and went on to star for the Lakers as a heady, sharp shooting guard. The 2-time PUC most valuable player and National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) All-District 21 player was Player of the Year in the district and honorable mention All-American in ’86 after averaging 17.9 points per game. The ’88 graduate completed his career as the Lakers’ all-time leading men’s scorer at the time (1,588 points). He also set team records in free throw shooting proficiency. In high school, he was a two-time all-conference player in basketball and baseball.

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This 1986 Bishop Noll Institute graduate earned national track and field distinction in the shot put and discus. She was an AAU All-American in '85 and received the AAU Presidents Award in '86 - the same year she placed 2nd in the U.S. Junior National Track & Field Championships and 3rd in thePan American Games. After a school record-setting career at Noll in which she was a 4-time state meet qualifier, she competed at the University of Illinois. There, she was All-Big Ten in the discus all four of her competing years before graduating with academic honors in ‘91.

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At Catholic Central, this 1941 graduate starred in football as a fullback. He was a 2-time recipient of the team’s Outstanding Player award and was named to the Indiana Catholic all-state and Chicago Area All-Catholic teams. He continued his career in college at Purdue (Class of ’45), where he played center for the Boilermakers’ unbeaten and co-Big Ten championship squad in ‘43. He also played professionally in ’45 for the National Football League champion Cleveland Rams.

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Copyright 2002