Inductees Gib Leach, the first swimmer to be honored by the Hall, practically grew up in a pool and thrived on hard work.
His prep career at Peoria Richwoods could hardly have been more successful. Going undefeated in dual meets from 1970 through 1972, Leach won the state 100 yard breaststroke in 1970 as a sophomore in 1:02.71 and lowered his state winning time to :59.940 in the event two years later, becoming only the sixth swimmer in national high school history to break the one minute barrier.
He was a high school All-American for his final three seasons of prep competition, was ranked second in the nation in the 100 breaststroke his senior year and was voted Illinois High School swimmer of the year in 1972 by Illinois swimming coaches.
Away from the prep scene, Leach was a finalist in the 1971 Men's long course national and was ranked 14th in the nation in 1971, qualifying him for the 1972 Olympic trials.
Gib Leach, the first swimmer to be honored by the Hall, practically grew up in a pool and thrived on hard work.
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.