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Fort Wayne Sports History: Lloy Ball wins Olympic gold in fourth try

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All-world setter leads U.S. past Brazil in title match

Monday, August 5, 2013 - 12:01 am

Editor's Note: This is the 11th in a series of excepts from the book ``Fort Wayne Sports History.

August 24, 2008

In 2008, Lloy Ball wins an Olympic gold medal at age 36 with the United States men's volleyball team.

After a fourth-place finish in Athens in 2004, Woodburn-native Lloy Ball figured his career with the United States Men's Volleyball Team was over. The odd thing is, the further away he got from the American team, the more success he had playing overseas, winning pro-league titles in Greece, Italy and Russia. After winning the European Champions League title in the winter of 2008, the world's biggest title outside of international play, U.S. coach Hugh McCutcheon realized Ball was playing better than ever and asked him to return.

And then Ball showed the maturity he had gained. Throughout the Olympics, whenever the team got in trouble, he'd calm things down. He never yelled at teammates except to congratulate them. He became the team's steadying influence.

That calm helped the U.S. beat Brazil 20-25, 25-22, 25-21, 25-23 in the gold medal match in Beijing, China. The Americans trailed 20-17 in the fourth set.

``As much as this is an incredible feat, and one that I've been working on for so long, I know it won't change who or what I am. I still want to be a good dad, a great husband and son and teammate.

``It took me 36 years to get to be the man I am, and all this does is add another line on the resume and justify the sacrifice my family had to make. It's the most momentous thing in my sporting career, but it doesn't change who Lloy Ball is."

Ball finished with 90 assists and 10 digs as the Americans beat the defending Olympic champions, who were trying to become the first champion to defend its title since the Americans in 1988.

Before the Olympics, Ball was named the World League Most Valuable Player as the Americans won the title in Brazil.

Also, in 1954, the Daisies beat the North American Vans men's team 10-9 before 2,700 fans at Memorial Park.

Despite a rainy night, the game draws a larger crowd than the Van Lines' game the week before against the Philadelphia Phillies. The pitchers throw against their own teams.

1993 Komets win second-round voting

The Komets' Turner Cup Playoffs sweep of 1993 received 45 percent of the vote to win the second round of our contest to name the greatest event in Fort Wayne Sports History. The Komets beat the 27 percent total of Fort Wayne hosting two NBA Finals and 16 percent for Fort Wayne being named the nation's No. 1 minor league sports city. Swimmer Matt Vogel winning two Olympic gold medals received 8 percent of the vote and Fort Wayne hosting one of the first night baseball games received 3 percent.

The Komets join Rod Woodson's Pro Football Hall of Fame induction as two of our three finalists. The third finalist will be determined in five weeks.

For more information on the book "Fort Wayne Sports History'' written by News-Sentinel sports reporter Blake Sebring visit or