The Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame is our community’s way of recognizing and paying tribute to Central New Yorkers who have made significant contributions to the world of sports. The word "Greater'" in our Hall of Fame official name, not only refers to our geographic focus... it describes the key goal and purpose we share as an organization and as a community.

In 1981, the founders, a group of business leaders with a passion for sports, planned the memorial to honor our community's sports heroes and role models of the past and present. . Through their sportsmanship, skill and competition, those professional and amateur athletes, coaches, and officials have demonstrated to the world that Syracuse, New York is indeed a major sports hub. Their accomplishments enables Syracuse to become a mecca for generations of sports fans.

September 27, 1987 : The first Hall of Fame induction dinner was held at the Drumlins Country Club honoring the initial class which included: Marty Piriano, Dolph Schayes, Ben Schwartzwalder, Paul Seymour, Roy Simmons, SR., Ginnie Allen, Carmen Basilio, Danny Biasone, Arthur “Babe” Cranfield, Vic Hanson. The price of the first dinner was $25.00 per person, over 700 people attended.

Election to the Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame is based on a candidate’s accomplishments as an athlete in high school, college, amateur or professional sports, or a significant contributions he or she has made to the growth of a sport.

The inductee's nomination through public participation must have had an association with the area for at least ten years. They are considered to be "home town" people and are commonly identified with the greater Syracuse area.

The Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame is a volunteer organization comprised of 35 committee members with ten executive committee members who process all of the nominations for consideration. Final selection of inductees is made through majority committee vote and endorsement of the executive committee.

The main terminal lobby at Syracuse’s Hancock International Airport had been the site of the original Hall of Fame display starting in 1987. Through attrition the display had moved to various locations throughout the county including a seven years stay at the Onondaga Historical Museum.
The Hall of Fame has recently entered into an agreement with Driver’s Village (the former Penn Can Mall) in Cicero that will provide the Hall of Fame with a large amount of exhibit space on the lower level of the newly design mall project. This gallery type setting will be available for public viewing during all of the times that Driver’s Village is open for operation. One the great thing about this agreement is that the gallery can expand with time – so that we can add more material and memorabilia for future Hall of Fame inductees.

The showcases feature paintings of inductees, biographical data and memorabilia items contributed by the honorees and their families. An item that dominates the collection is the 24-second shot clock initiated by Danny Biasone, owner of the Syracuse Nats. Many basketball observers credit the clock as the device that saved the NBA in its early days. Biasone himself was inducted into the Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame in 1987 and the National Basketball Hall of Fame in 2000.

The Hall of Fame will always maintain a physical present at Hancock Airport and the Onondaga Historical Museum. Locating a permanent headquarters for the shrine has and will always be a major agenda item for the Hall of Fame Committee. Money for the operation and expansion of the shrine is raised through corporate sponsorship of the inductees, from proceeds of the annual induction dinner and from personal and corporate gifts.


Erecting the 24 Second Shot Clock monument

Basketball Hall of Famers Bill Walton (far left), John Havlicek (rear, wearing sunglasses) and Dolph Schayes (pulling down cover) participated in the ceremony.This reflective street clock, located in Armory Square, has become a permanent display in our community for visitors to appreciate.

 

In 1999, it was announced that Danny Biasone (the one time owner of the Syracuse Nationals) would be inducted into the National Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts for inventing the 24-second shot clock rule that revolutionized basketball and “saved” the National Basketball Association. The shot clock was first tested in the summer of 1954 at the Blodgett Elementary School in Syracuse and the rule was adopted in the NBA immediately thereafter. The clock is credited with turning the NBA into the fast-paced, action-filled game that it is today. The original 24-second shot clock is currently on display along with other Biasone memorabilia at Le Moyne College in Syracuse.

NBA great and Syracuse resident Dolph Schayes, spearheaded the effort of community’s leaders to host a celebration in 2000 to honor Biasone’s induction. A local committee was formed and a tribute was held on November 28th, 2000. Included in the celebration were NBA legends ( Ephraim “Red” Rocha, Alex Hannum, Billy Kenville, Earl Lloyd, Billy Gabor, Johnny Kerr, Al Bianchi, Bob Harrison, Dolph Schayes and Bob Wanzer). That evening of the tribute, a few members of the local organizing committee and members of the Syracuse Nationals meet to share old stories. At that gathering the project of erecting the 24-second shot clock monument was first considered.

In 2001, a joint committee of members of the Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame and committee members of the Biasone tribute, of which NBA great Dolph Schayes and John Rathbun were the most active, was constituted and then proceeded to solicit financial support for this new project. John Rathbun, then Director of Sports Development for the Greater Syracuse Chamber of Commerce, with comrades Schayes, Fran McGrath and Dennis Brogan were the sub-committee to whom was entrusted the selection of a proper design, and after consultation with artists of reputation and ability, the plan of the present monument was adopted, the design being to place upon it a life size statue of the 24 second shot clock. The sub committee set a campaign goal of $ 75,000.00 that would ultimately pay for the purchase, instillation and maintenance of the clock. The original intent of this reflective street clock would be located next to the Onondaga County War Memorial and would become a permanent display in our community and for visitors to appreciate – the unveiling would also be part of a special 50 years history tribute of the War Memorial in 2001. That sub committee started to solicited financial support from local and state politicians, industries and private donations. The committee, which at the time felt it, would be easy to find individuals to contribute support for the project fond very little interest. Months and months of knocking on doors and calling in favors, the project seam to be in trouble. Only Syracuse Mayor Matthew Driscoll continued to endorse the project, not financially but with in-kind services. The committee continued on with very little hope of raising the much need money to construct the monument.

Months turned into years and the project seamed doom until one snowy day a city resident set up a meeting with Rathbun and showed interest in resurrect the project. The individual who once was a ball boy for the Nationals pledged the much-needed money to complete the project, with one exception – that his involvement has to remain anonymous. Rathbun with this news and excitement reconvene the original sub committee and the project took a new life.

It was decided to give the contract to Mr. Bob Haley of Ashley McGraw Architects to design and install a full-size street monument. It was Mr. Haley responsibility to find the proper location and try to utilize local vendors to create the structure. Different locations were now being considered; the grassy newels outside the War Memorial, the New York State Fairgrounds, Boldgett Elementary and Armory Square were all taken into deep consideration. Each location held significant historical connection with either the Syracuse Nationals or the 24-second shot clock itself. Once again, it was only Mayor Driscoll that stepped forward to support the initiative and donated the land for the monument in downtown Syracuse. Armory Square was the unanimous choice from all involved.

It was now in the hand of the architect firm to develop that land across the street from the old military armory (now the MOST) which the Nationals played from 1949-1951, not only did Mr. Haley and the sub committee wanted to erect a monuments that paid tribute to the rule but also enhance a small public park in the heart of Armory Square. The monument was formally dedicated on March 26th, 2005 (exactly 50 years to the date of Syracuse winning its first and only NBA Championship). The unveiling happened during the NCAA Men’s basketball tournament and the Sweet Sixteen weekend festivities.

The complete structure was design, constructed and installed by Syracuse vendors (Neon Grassworks and and local electrician Louis Geswaldo).

“The people of this community and especially the members of the Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame and the friends of Syracuse Nationals everywhere, owe a debt of gratitude to local organizing committee, without whose untiring efforts and personal sacrifices of this beautiful monument would never have been erected. They have made it the work of months and years, and their zeal has carried with them even those who at the beginning were doubtful of success. Their services in this enterprise should never be forgotten.” Rathbun said.

When the monument finally was completed, the entire community felt that it was a gala affair for sure. “To be part of the NCAA basketball fanfest and take advantage of the national media that was in town for the games, only enhanced the total unveiling,” Rathbun said. “People came from all over the country to witness the dedication.”

The Syracuse Post Standard wrote: “Thousands of people present and sports writers from all over the country were at unveiling of the 24 Second Shot Clock monument’ and its presentation to the city of Syracuse. Beautiful spring weather was vouchsafed for Decoration Day and the occasion will be long remembered by our citizens. The program of exercises included, besides the usual political speeches, comments from Dolph Schayes, John Havlicek and Earl Lloyd, the ceremony was facilitated the Doug Logan from Time Warner Sports television.  

The generous supports for the 24 second shot clock monument included:

Mayor Matthew J. Driscoll, Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame,Syracuse Parks and Recreation Department, Greater Syracuse Chamber of Commerce, Syracuse Sports Corporation, Milton J. Rubenstein Museum of Science and Technologies, Armory Square Association, Neon Grassworks, A.R.K. Ramos, Ashley McGraw Architects, Central New York Community Foundation, Raulli & Son Inc, and Sean Kirst from the Syracuse Post Standard..