Inductees "Alvie" Gebhardt was one of the busiest and most popular local officials. He whistled his first high school game foul in 1939, and was still doing it 27 years later. He started "calling 'em right" in the old YMCA and Caterpillar leagues in '37. It was said, "if you can survive the games in those leagues, you're ready to move on." And that he did.
Gebhardt was assigned many regionals and sectionals, 15 super sectionals, and four state finals. He was the first local official to work in the NCAA Tournament, handling the quarter-finals in 1966 at Portland, Ore.
He worked 10 years in the National Industrial Basketball League that included the Caterpillar Olympic Champions in 1952, and he handled seven NAIA playoffs. Unable to accept an offer to do Big 10 games because of T P & W employer duties, Alvie accepted a Missouri Conference schedule, working in that league for 11 years, frequently being assigned the "big game" involving top-ranked teams like Wichita, Louisville, Tulsa, and Cincinnati.
Gebhardt officiated the game between number one ranked Cincinnati and number three ranked Illinois in Chicago attended by 22,000 fans, the largest crowd to attend a game up to that time.
Alvie stopped officiating in 1966 after pulling an Achilles tendon. He continues to live in Peoria with wife Fran, spending the winter months in Englewood, Florida.
"Alvie" Gebhardt was one of the busiest and most popular local officials. He whistled his first high school game foul in 1939, and was still doing it 27 years later. He started "calling 'em right" in the old YMCA and Caterpillar leagues in '37. It was said, "if you can survive the games in those leagues, you're ready to move on." And that he did.
Neve Harms Award
The Greater Peoria Sports Hall of Fame Neve Harms Award, formerly the Peoria Advertising and Selling Club's Annual Meritorious Service to Sports Award, was named the Neve Harms Award in 1966 and for a very good reason.
As Director of Proctor Recreation Center, Harms observed the need for all youths to experience participation in sports activities, and not just the few who excelled. He, therefore, adopted a firm policy which assured that all youths would have an opportunity to play in games of the various sports controlled by Proctor Center. This plan met with much success and certainly with acceptance by parents whose children became more interested in sport activities at Proctor and consequently made good use of their free time.
Neve carried through this policy when he was appointed Superintendent of the Peoria City Recreation Department which later became part of the Peoria Park District. In addition, he also developed a system of recognition for all youths so that each young person could feel good about his or her efforts.
This kind of interest in all youths regardless of ability came from a most competitive and outstanding athlete. Neve was a four-sport player at Manual High School and a three-sport letter winner at Bradley University. He was a member of the 1929 Manual High School State Championship Basketball team.
Awards prior to 1981 were offered through the Peoria Advertising Club, rather than the Greater Peoria Sports Hall of Fame. We don't have biographies for these individuals. If anyone would be able to provide the bios that were written by the club at the time of the awards, we would very much appreciate receiving them for posting. We are also missing the Bruce Saurs' bio that was written in the 1991 Greater Peoria Sports Hall of Fame Banquet book, and we would like to receive it also. We are specifically interested in the bios written at the time of the awards, not more or less current. Please contact Rick at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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The first official Board of Directors meeting was held October 14, 1979. Officers were elected. Early decisions determined that the Hall of Famers would be from the Greater Peoria Area; the name would be The Greater Peoria Sports Hall of Fame; its purpose would be to promote and encourage the many varied sports programs in our area, to share with the area the pride we have in the accomplishments of area athletes, and to honor those men, women and teams contributing to our enjoyment and rich sports history.
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