Since being rejuvenated in 2016 after years of uncertainty and instability, the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame has held two annual inductions, as well as other high-profile events, and once again become an important part of the state sports landscape.
Next January, the historic institution will immortalize three more local legends: former Packers general manager Ron Wolf, retired Bucks great Marques Johnson and area golf leader Herbert Kohler Jr., who have been selected for induction into the 69th Anniversary Class of the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame.
They’ll join 140 of the state’s greatest athletic icons, including Vince Lombardi, Hank Aaron, Oscar Robertson, Barry Alvarez, Al McGuire, Bud Selig, Bart Starr, Robin Yount, Bonnie Blair, Bob Uecker and others.
The induction event will be held Jan. 24, 2019 in Downtown Milwaukee. For information and tickets, click here.
"Our 69th Anniversary Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame Class is unbelievably accomplished, each of them in their own special way have helped create something amazing in Wisconsin sports," said Driver, the president of the board "As a proud Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame member, I know that these three inductees will be an awesome addition to our Hall. And for Ron Wolf, specifically, I can’t wait to break out some stories."
Wolf, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2015, was the Packers’ general manager from 1991 – his only losing season in Green Bay – until 2011, when he retired. He made some of the biggest moves in franchise history, including hiring Mike Holmgren as head coach, trading for quarterback Brett Favre and signing free agent Reggie White, which changed the perception of Green Bay around the NFL.
In Wolf’s 11 seasons with the Packers, the team made the playoffs six consecutive seasons, with two straight Super Bowl appearances, a win over the Patriots in 1997 and a loss against the Broncos in 1998.
"It is such a wonderful honor to be inducted into the Wisconsin hall of fame and I owe so much to so many who made this possible," Wolf said. "I thank you for this most prestigious award."
Johnson, now a Bucks broadcaster, came to Milwaukee after being selected third in the 1977 NBA draft. During his seven-year career with the Bucks, Johnson was a four-time All-Star, an All-NBA First Teamer and two-time All-NBA Second Team player, averaging 21 points, seven rebounds, three assists and one steal per game.
An all-around talent, Johnson left his stamp on the sport with his work ethic and uniqueness, helping to create the hybrid position of "point forward." Johnson contributed to the most successful period in Bucks’ history, part of five straight Central Division teams from 1980-84 Johnson.
"What a tremendous honor to be inducted into the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame," Johnson said. "When I think of the all-time greats that have graced the Wisconsin sports scene, to be included in that number is humbling. Thank you to the supportive fans that continue to display unrivaled passion for their teams and athletes."
Perhaps no one in the state of Wisconsin has done more to elevate golf than Kohler. An avid fan of professional golf, Kohler became directly involved in the game by creating two championship level golf courses – Blackwolf Run and Whistling Straits, which have hosted the U.S. Women’s Open, the PGA Championship three times, the U.S. Senior Open and the upcoming Ryder Cup in 2020. Thanks to Kohler, these tournaments and their host courses have turned the state into an international golf destination.
"It is quite an honor to be considered and inducted into the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame particularly alongside Marques Johnson and Ron Wolf, both of whom I have cheered for quite aggressively," Kohler said. "Rather loudly for Marques, silently but emphatically for Ron.
"One of our Guiding Principles at Kohler Co. is to design and create on the leading edge. … Today, our courses and the others that have followed in our footsteps have placed Wisconsin at the very top of the game of golf."
Said Executive Director Brian Lammi: "Herbert Kohler transformed Wisconsin into a worldwide golfing destination and brought six golf Majors to Wisconsin. Marques Johnson led the Bucks back to prominence, including five Central Division titles. Ron Wolf restored the glory to Titletown, trading for Brett Favre, signing Reggie White, and ultimately leading the Packers back to a World Championship for the first time in 29 years.
"Together, they represent an incredible class of Wisconsin athletic excellence."
To read OnMilwaukee's 2016 longform story about the history of the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame, click here.
Born in Milwaukee but a product of Shorewood High School (go ‘Hounds!) and Northwestern University (go ‘Cats!), Jimmy never knew the schoolboy bliss of cheering for a winning football, basketball or baseball team. So he ditched being a fan in order to cover sports professionally - occasionally objectively, always passionately. He's lived in Chicago, New York and Dallas, but now resides again in his beloved Brew City and is an ardent attacker of the notorious Milwaukee Inferiority Complex.
After interning at print publications like Birds and Blooms (official motto: "America's #1 backyard birding and gardening magazine!"), Sports Illustrated (unofficial motto: "Subscribe and save up to 90% off the cover price!") and The Dallas Morning News (a newspaper!), Jimmy worked for web outlets like CBSSports.com, where he was a Packers beat reporter, and FOX Sports Wisconsin, where he managed digital content. He's a proponent and frequent user of em dashes, parenthetical asides, descriptive appositives and, really, anything that makes his sentences longer and more needlessly complex.
Jimmy appreciates references to late '90s Brewers and Bucks players and is the curator of the unofficial John Jaha Hall of Fame. He also enjoys running, biking and soccer, but isn't too annoying about them. He writes about sports - both mainstream and unconventional - and non-sports, including history, music, food, art and even golf (just kidding!), and welcomes reader suggestions for off-the-beaten-path story ideas.