Who is Fort Wayne’s Favorite overall professional athlete?
For seven weeks, we’ve asked you to vote Fort Wayne’s Favorite athletes in several categories, and the response has been outstanding.
You have selected Rod Woodson in football, Moose Myers in auto racing, Kevin Kiermaier in baseball, Lloy Ball in the Olympics, Karissa McLaughlin in female basketball and Walter Jordan in male basketball.
And the only major upset was Ryan Potts in local pro hockey players. Despite playing only five games with the Komets, the grandson of Fort Wayne great Reggie Primeau out-distanced Colin Chin and Kaleigh Schrock in a surprise.
We’re not done yet. The most important category will finish off our summer series as we ask you to pick from among all the winners for the overall title of Fort Wayne’s Favorite athlete. We area adding women’s golfer Cathy Kratzert Gerring, men’s golfer Bill Kratzert and soccer player DaMarcus Beasley to our previous seven winners to give us 10 candidates. They’d have won their individual categories in landslides so we’re including them.
Voting will continue until 6 p.m. Sunday and the winner will be announced Monday morning.
Hopefully, you enjoying the opportunity this summer to reminisce about more than 70 of Fort Wayne’s greatest athletes through the years.
Lloy Ball, Olympian
The only U.S. male in a team sport to participate in four Olympics, Ball won a gold medal in 2008 in Beijing with a four-set win over Brazil. He was part of the U.S. National Team from 1994 to 2008 and was the longest-tenured team captain in program history. Ball was recognized several times as the world’s best server or setter, and in 2008 he was selected as the World League Most Valuable Player. He was inducted into the International Volleyball Hall of Fame in 2015.
DaMarcus Beasley, soccer
The first United States man to play in four World Cups, Beasley, 36, is currently playing with Major League Soccer’s Houston Dynamo. He also played professionally in Mexico, Netherlands, England, Scotland and Germany. He represented the U.S. in World Cup competition in 2002, 2006, 2010 and 2014, and has played in 126 international matches, scoring 17 goals and 13 assists. He was also a key part of the U.S. team that won the CONCACAF Gold Cup titles in 2002, 2005, 2007 and in 2013 when he was the team’s captain.
Cathy Kratzert Gerring, female golf
Gerring won her first of three Fort Wayne Women’s City titles in 1979, and in 1982 and 1983 won the Big Ten medalist honors and earned All-America honors while playing for Ohio State. She played 24 LPGA tournaments in 1985, with her highest finish being seventh, but Gerring received national notice in 1986 when she finished second in three tournaments — losing all three in playoffs. That streak continued in 1987 when she lost to Jane Geddes in a playoff at the Kemper Open. After playing six tournaments in 1989, Gerring won $487,326 in 1990 to finish fourth on the money list and won titles at the Lady Keystone Open, Stratton Mountain LPGA Classic and the Trophee Urban World Championship. She had 13 top-10 finishes that season and was honored by her peers as the Bounceback Player of the Year. A freak accident at the Sara Lee Classic in April 1992 changed her future. She retired from the LPGA in 2006 with $835,063 in career winnings.
Walter Jordan, male basketball
After helping Northrop win the 1974 state title, Jordan went to Purdue where he grew into a 6-8 forward and averaged 14 points a game as a freshman and teamed with Fort Wayne’s Eugene Parker to lead the Boilers to a 21-9 record. As his scoring average increased to 18.8 points as a junior and 17.0 as a senior, Jordan was twice named All-Big Ten and Purdue’s Most Valuable Player. He also won a gold medal at the 1977 World University Games. By the time he graduated, Jordan was the fourth-leading scorer in Purdue history with 1,813 points and third all-time with 882 rebounds.
Kevin Kiermaier, baseball
The former Bishop Luers football and baseball star, has become one of Major League Baseball’s best defensive outfielders, winning a gold glove in and a platinum glove as the best defensive player in the American League in 2015. He made his MLB debut with Tampa Bay in the wild-card playoff game in 2013. During his rookie season, he hit .263 with 10 home runs in 108 games and was gold glove finalist. His hit .263 again during his second season with 10 home runs and his third season was recently interrupted by fractured bones in his left hand on May 21 but he’s back in the lineup now.
Bill Kratzert, male golf
Bill Kratzert III won the Indiana Amateur Championship as a 16-year-old in 1968 and the Indiana Open the next year. Kratzert was an Elmhurst High School graduate and two-time All-American at the University of Georgia, turning professional in 1974 and making the PGA Tour in 1976 when he won $21,253. In 1977, he won the Greater Hartford Open and won $134,758 to rank 10th on the money list. He won the Greater Milwaukee Open in 1980 and the 1984 Pensacola Open, picking up his largest paycheck of $54,000. Among his career highlights, Kratzert was tied for the lead after the first day and one shot behind Seve Ballesteros after the second round of the 1986 Masters. He also finished fifth at the Masters in 1978 and became the 52nd PGA player to earn more than $1 million in his career in July 1985. Kratzert’s 20-year PGA career ended in 1996 with four tournament titles and almost $1.4 million in earnings.
Karissa McLaughlin, female basketball
During her career at Homestead, McLaughlin never lost on her home court while helping take the Spartans to two state finals appearances in 2015 and 2017 and a semistate trip in 2016. The 2017 Homestead graduate finished as the area’s second all-time leading scorer with 2,586 career points. As a senior, she averaged 25.9 points and 5.6 assists while shooting 46.1 percent from three-point range and leading the Spartans to the Class 4A state title, scoring 29 points in the championship game. She also was named Indiana Miss Basketball. During her freshman season at Purdue, McLaughlin was named to the Big Ten’s all-freshman squad after averaging 10.4 points and 3.5 assists, starting 30 of 34 games.
Moose Myers, auto racing
The 1977 Automobile Racing Club of America champion and 1975 American Speed Association champion, he won his first track championship at Baer Field in 1966, and eventually won 14 titles at Baer Field, Avilla, New Bremen and Bryan speedways.
Ryan Potts, hockey
The grandson of Komets great Reggie Primeau, Potts was a versatile forward who played five games for the Komets during the middle of the 2008-09 season, scoring two assists. He played college hockey at Northland College in Wisconsin, an NCAA Division III school where as a senior in 2005-06 he scored nine goals and had 15 points in 26 games.
Rod Woodson, football
The Snider grad earned All-America honors as a senior cornerback at Purdue, but he was also a three-time first team all-Big Ten selection. He intercepted 11 passes and returned three for touchdowns, totaled 320 solo tackles, 445 total tackles and also 1,535 kickoff return yards. Woodson was selected for the College Football Hall of Fame in 2015. During his 17-year NFL career, the Snider graduate played for the Pittsburgh Steelers, San Francisco 49ers, Baltimore Ravens and Oakland Raiders as a cornerback, safety and kick returner. He’s the only player in NFL history to be named to the Pro Bowl at three positions. In fact, he was an 11-time Pro Bowl selection. He also played in Super Bowls with three teams. In 1993, he was named the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year. He was named to the league’s 75th-anniversary team and was ranked as the 30th-best player of all-time by Pro Football Weekly. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2009.