Tri-County Youth Sports Grant
Tri-County Youth Sports Grant Winners

Welcome to the Greater Peoria Sports Hall of Fame website. We have inducted numerous individuals and teams. Their plaques are located in the Peoria Civic Center. As you browse through our site, you will learn that the Peoria area is rich in talent. Many individuals, teams and organizations have contributed to our sports history. If you have any comments or requests, please feel free to contact us at any time.

2017 Individual Inductees

Don Millard

Just the second wrestler to be inducted into the Greater Peoria Sports Hall of Fame, Don’s outstanding wrestling career began at Pekin High School under the guidance of head coach, Jim Custer (GPSHOF class of 1995) and assistant coach, Jack Stoudt (GPSHOF class of 2008).   Don led Custer’s last team to the Illinois state finals where Pekin placed second.  Millard won silver medals at the state finals as both a junior and a senior, losing matches both years to 3-time state champion, Rick Bay, in very competitive bouts.  Following high school, he accepted a scholarship to Southern Illinois University (Carbondale). While at Southern Illinois, the Salukis transitioned from the College to the University Division status.  Don developed rapidly with a number of accomplishments.  He finished the 1961-62 season with an 18-4 record.  He won the Illinois Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (IIAC) Championship three times.  Don placed 2nd in the prestigious Midlands Championships, and placed 4th in the NCAA Division I Tournament in 1962 at Oklahoma St.  In 1964 he achieved a rare feat by winning the NCAA College Division Championship at Northern Iowa, allowing him to advance to the University Division Championships at Cornell where he achieved the same result, a national title at 167 lbs.   During his three years of varsity competition at SIU (frosh were not eligible), he posted a 50-6-1 record.   He was once a College Division All-American and twice a University All-American.  After completing his career at SIU, he tried out for the 1964 Olympics, and finished 5th in those trials. Don was inducted into the SIU Sports Hall of Fame in 2006.  He has also been inducted into both the National Wrestling Hall of Fame and into the Illinois Wrestling and Coaches Hall of Fame (Class of 1985).


John Gross

To be inducted into the GPSHOF while continuing your career in coaching, requires some serious “credentials.”  John Gross’s career in coaching high school girls basketball certainly meets that criteria.  At the time of his election into the Hall, he had coached nearly 1,000 games, and his teams had won more than 75% of those contests.  Close to 70% of those victories came during John’s 26 seasons at Limestone Community High School (Bartonville).  From 1976-2001 the Lady Rockets compiled a record of 544-168.  John’s 1991-92 team (32-1) lost only to Chicago Marshall in the championship game of the IHSA Class AA (large schools) State tournament at ISU’s Redbird Arena.  After a semifinal win over LaGrange (Lyons) earlier in the day, the fatigued Rockets, trailing most of the game, “dug deep” in the 4th quarter to tie the game with under 10 seconds to play, only to lose on a last second basket by Marshall.  Beginning with 2004-2005 campaign, John coached for 5 seasons at Richwoods (Peoria) where his teams compiled a 147-26 record.  The Lady Knights won State Championships in 2005 (Class AA vs. Bartlett) with a perfect 38-0 record, and in 2009 (Class 3A vs. Freeport) with a record of 34-3.  (A four class system was introduced by the IHSA for the 2007-08 season.)   John came out of “retirement” in 2015.  In his second season at Princeville, the Lady Princes won their first Regional Championship since 1988.  At the time of his election into the GPSHOF, he was guiding Princeville through another winning season.  Not surprisingly John has received several honors both at the State and National levels.  Gross was twice named national coach of the year and has been inducted into the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.


Tom Gilles

 Tom’s outstanding baseball career was highlighted by Major League baseball appearances as a pitcher with the Toronto Blue Jays.  He was the winning pitcher in his first outing with the Jays, his only decision in the Big Leagues. 

Gilles was an outstanding athlete at Bergan High School (merged with Peoria AOL/Spalding to become Peoria Notre Dame in 1988).  He was selected to All-Conference basketball and baseball teams.  He was named All-State in both sports in 1980, his senior year.  Tom was a star on the 1980 Bergan Basketball Team (GPSHOF class of 2010) that placed 2nd in the IHSA Class A State Tournament.  Arguably, the most memorable moment in Bergan’s basketball history occurred during the tournament when his steal and resulting “buzzer beating” layup gave the Trojans a thrilling 56-55 win over Sterling Newman in the Moline Super-Sectional propelling Bergan to the quarterfinals.  Tom was selected to the All-Tournament 1st Team.  After Bergan, Gilles continued his baseball career at Indiana State University in Terre Haute, Indiana, playing for the Sycamores from 1981-85.  As a freshman and sophomore, he both played as a position player and relief pitcher.  His 3.22 earned run average in 1981 was the lowest among all pitchers.  Tom was strictly a position player in his final two years, playing as a regular on ISU teams that won the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament championships in each season.   In the summer of 1983 he was selected as a Central Illinois Collegiate League All-Star.  Soon after his college career, he attempted to land a spot on the USA Baseball Team’s 30-man roster that would compete in the 1984 Olympic Games.  After making the preliminary roster against nationwide competition, he narrowly missed being named to the final roster.  Tom signed his first professional contract with the New York Yankees as a 47th round pick in the 1984 draft.  He played first and third base his first two seasons in the Yankees organization.  He was converted to pitching in 1987 and hurled as a relief pitcher the next five seasons at Appleton, Kenosha, Orlando, and Knoxville, in the Yankees, Royals, Twins, and Blue Jays organizations.  He compiled a record of 22-16.  After his playing days, he shared his professional experience by coaching high school and college players.


Bill King

Before building a solid professional foundation in the Greater Peoria area that lead to his legendary career in sports broadcasting in the San Francisco Bay Area of California, Bill King actually gained his initial broadcasting experience with Armed Forces radio.  He simulated live play-by-play accounts of games from information received over the wire.  After WWII he began his professional broadcasting in Pekin, Illinois.  Bill broadcasted high school games in Pekin and Peoria. He called his first minor league baseball game in 1948 in Peoria, at the age of 19, and went on to call Bradley University basketball and University of Nebraska football and basketball.  Moving to the Bay Area in the late 1950s, King was hired by KSFO-AM as a fill-in broadcaster for the San Francisco Giants baseball games after the franchise moved from New York.  A major turning point in his career occurred in 1962 when he landed the job as the play-by-play voice of the NBA’s San Francisco Warriors after the franchise moved from Philadelphia.  (The team became the Golden State Warriors in 1971.)  His stint with the Warriors lasted through the 1982-83 season.  In 1966, King added the duties of Oakland Raiders play-by-play to his schedule, becoming one of the signature voices of the National Football League when the Raiders and the American Football League merged with the NFL in 1970.  He called Raiders’ games through the 1992 season.  Despite his already considerable workload for two professional teams, King was convinced to become the lead radio announcer for the Oakland A’s in 1981. He became a beloved and legendary broadcaster during his 25 years with the A’s.  He was also considered quite the “character”.  He was once responsible for the Warriors being assessed a technical foul after berating an NBA official.  Among a very small and select group of announcers, Bill received championship rings from teams representing all three major sports. He received three Super Bowl rings (Raiders - NFL), one NBA Champion ring (Warriors), and one World Series ring (A’s – MLB).  Some of his actual play-by-play calls can be heard in the movie, Moneyball, an account of the Oakland A’s season of 2002.  His career sadly ended with his death in October of 2005.  His partner for 13 years, Greg Papa, said about King, “Bill is without a doubt the best radio play-by-play announcer I have heard in all of sports. His energy, preparation, his thoroughness, his word choice—he is without peer.”  Indeed, in 2017, the National Baseball Hall of Fame named King the 41st recipient (posthumously) of the Ford C. Frick Award, the highest honor for American baseball broadcasters.   Among the many other tributes to his career are:  1) the naming of the radio booth at the Oakland Alameda County Coliseum, “Bill King Radio Booth” 2) the placement of a sign on the centerfield wall with King’s catchphrase, “Holy Toledo” in script font, that can be flashed on an A’s homerun or other “King worthy” play.  3) On Opening Night of the 2006 season, a video tribute was played on the coliseum’s large screen, and in lieu of the ceremonial first pitch, Bill King's chair, a baseball, and his headset were on the pitcher's mound.  4) His partner for the last 10 years of his career, Ken Korach, authored a biography about King, “Holy Toledo – Lessons from Bill King: Renaissance Man of the Mic.”

2017 Team Inductees

1978 AOL-Spalding Girl's Golf Team

Good beginnings!  Coached by Mickey Schallau and in its first season as a team sport, the 1978 AOL/SI Girls Golf Team finished 3rd in the IHSA State Finals.   The Lady Irish finished only behind 2nd place Palatine (Fremd) and 1st place Quincy (defending champion).   Showing impressive consistency, the team finished no lower than 3rd in any tournament all season.  The team’s top performers were senior, Therese Ehrhart, and sophomore, Mary Jo Ferlman.  Ehrhart finished the 2 rounds of the finals with a score of 176 (89-87), and Ferlman was a stroke behind her at 177 (84-93).  After graduation, Ehrhart continued playing competitively at the University of Iowa Golf and was named the MVP for the Lady Hawkeyes in 1983.   Coach Schallau actually played double-duty for the State Finals, spending Day 1 with the Lady Irish in Bloomington and Day 2 with the Spalding team in Springfield, where the Boys earned a 2nd place finish.


1979 AOL-Spalding Girl's Golf Team

Continuing the superb performance of the school’s inaugural squad, the 1979 team, in just its 2nd season as a varsity sport, finished second in the IHSA state finals.  Marking the completion of another impressive season on the links, the Lady Irish persevered through extremely windy conditions in the final round to maintain the runner-up position behind Homewood-Flossmoor.  Pat Ehrhart shot 172 over the 2 days of the finals, good for 10th place in the individual competition.  During the regular season, the girls were unbeaten in dual matches and won three of the four tournaments in which the team competed.  They dominated the Galesburg Sectional by finishing ahead of Macomb and host Galesburg by 9 strokes and 12 strokes respectively.   Ehrhart also led the way in the Sectional by shooting a solid 82.   Despite Ehrhart’s low scoring, the team boasted exceptional depth.   Coach Schallau noted that, “None of our girls would have qualified (for state) if they weren’t on a team.”