Inductees Peoria has had only one athlete ever to play in three National Football League championship games: Bob Swisher of the Chicago Bears.
Swisher, who played college ball at Northwestern at 5-foot-10 and 158 pounds, joined the Chicago Bears in 1938 and played five seasons under legendary coach George Halas.
He appeared in the record-setting 73-0 Bears romp over the Washington Redskins in the 1940 NFL title game, catching one pass for 35 yards, one of only seven passes the Bears, owning a crunching ground game, completed all day.
In the 33-14 win over Green Bay in the 1941 conference championship game he scored on a nine-yard run and then played in the NFL title game a week later in a 37-9 win over the New York Giants and in the 1942 title game, a 14-6 loss to Washington.
Swisher began his athletic career at Peoria Central High School, lettering in football, basketball, and track. He held the school's pole vault record from 1931 to 1970.
He later won letters in football and track at Northwestern.
During World II, Swisher, a lieutenant in the Navy, played with the powerful Iowa Pre-Flight Sea Hawks before being sent overseas.
He played one post-war season with the Bears and then turned to coaching, first at Loyola University in Los Angeles and then at the Naval Air Base in Millington, Tenn.
He passed away in 1979
Peoria has had only one athlete ever to play in three National Football League championship games: Bob Swisher of the Chicago Bears.
A two-sport star (baseball and basketball) at both Limestone High School and Illinois Central College, Thome went on to a legendary baseball career as one of the top sluggers in Major League Baseball history. A 13th-round selection by the Cleveland Indians in 1989, Thome made his MLB debut in 1991. After a 22-year career with Indians, Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, Minnesota Twins and Baltimore Orioles, Thome ranks seventh in Major League history with 612 home runs and 24th with 1,699 runs batted in, while boasting a .276 career batting average. He was a five-time All-Star and received Most Valuable Player votes in nine different seasons. Thome helped Cleveland to World Series appearances in both 1995 and 1997 and he hit 17 career postseason home runs. Thome led the American League in slugging in 2002 (.677) and the National League with 47 home runs in 2003 and he received a 1996 Silver Slugger Award. Thome also was the 2006 Americal League Comeback Player of the Year. Recognized for his integrity, sportsmanship and community involvement, Thome received the Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award in 2001 and 2004, as well as the 2002 Roberto Clemente Award and the 2004 Lou Gehrig Memorial Award. The Cleveland organization dedicated a statue of Thome outside Progressive Field following his official retirement in 2014.