Inductees THIS CATS TEAM fared no better than 16-16 for the 1959-60 National Industrial Basketball League season - and needed a victory in their final game over the last-place New York Tuck Tapers to break even - before traveling to Denver for an Amateur Athletic Union Tournament bid that didn't end until a 115-99 championship game over the Akron Wingfoots.
The Cats won 90-76 in the semifinals over the Phillips 66 Oilers after edging the Cleveland Pipers 84-82 and downing the Chicago Jamaco Saints 98-73. Bob Boozer of Peoria was named MVP of the tournament and, along with teammate Howie Crittenden, earned AAU all-American recognition. Also scoring in double figures for Caterpillar in the record-breaking title game win over Akron were Jack Adams, Al Kelley, Leon Hill and Don Ohl.
Caterpillar continued to win in the Olympic Trials, and wasn't stopped until the NCAA University All-Stars (Jerry West, Oscar Robertson, et al) ran past the Cats 124-97 in the championship game.
This post-season left Cats head coach Warren Womble with a 58-7 career record in AAU and Olympic Tournament games, and Caterpillar soon dropped sponsorship of the team to end a basketball era in Peoria.
THIS CATS TEAM fared no better than 16-16 for the 1959-60 National Industrial Basketball League season - and needed a victory in their final game over the last-place New York Tuck Tapers to break even - before traveling to Denver for an Amateur Athletic Union Tournament bid that didn't end until a 115-99 championship game over the Akron Wingfoots.
Larry Leitner was among the state's elite officials for more than 40 years, officiating high school, college and professional sporting events from 1960 through 2003 and he remains involved in sports by serving on the board of directors for the Pekin Insurance Holiday Tournament, as well as evaluating current officials and moderating IHSA rules clinics.
Among his officiating highlights, Leitner worked more IHSA basketball and football tournament games than any official in the state's history, earning 27 consecutive boys basketball regional assignments. He also worked the IHSA boys basketball state finals in 1973, 1974 and 1976, including the 1976 championship game, and three IHSA football finals, including the first-ever 2A state championship game in 1974. A charter member of the Gateway Conference officiating crew in 1988, Leitner was part of the crew that officiated the 1990 and 1993 NCAA Division I-AA quarterfinals and he served as an associate official for the Big Ten Conference from 1984-88.
Leitner also was called upon to officiate two IESA state championship games, the 1990 National Catholic Basketball finals, three Shriner All-Star football games and the 1980 IBCA All-Star Classic, while also working for two seasons in the Midwest Professional Football League.
Leitner is a member of the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association, Peoria Officials and Bloomington/Normal Officials Halls of Fame.