Tri-County Youth Sports Grant
Tri-County Youth Sports Grant Winners
Mark Harper

The first inductee selected by the newly-formed "Old Timers Committee", Mark Harper won 11 varsity letters in four sports at Peoria High School (Central) in the 1920's before signing a professional basketball contract with the Chicago Bruins.

As a track star for the Lions, Harper was a shotputter and consistently went over six feet in the high jump; his athletic reputation grew while playing tackle in football, first base in baseball, and center in basketball. A six-footer at age 13 who would stand 6-foot-4 inches as a high school sophomore, Harper helped Central earn a third-place finish in the 1922 state high school basketball tournament.

He played semi-pro basketball for several area teams prior to signing an American Professional Basketball League contract in 1924 for $400 a month with the Chicago Bruins, a team owned by the legendary George Halas who traded him in 1927 to the Washington D.C.'s (later known as the Brooklyn Visitations).

In 1930, he joined the Fort Wayne Hoosiers, who went on to capture a divisional title only to lose in the league championship game to the New York Celtics on Nat Holman's last second shot.

From 1931 until 1935, the final year of his professional basketball career, Harper toured with the House of David Independent Professional team out of Benton Harbor, Michigan. He has been a Rock Island railroad retiree since 1969.