Cops with Hops: Cleveland Police playing basketball

In 2022, the NBA All Star Game returned to Cleveland. Our Cleveland Police are no strangers to the hardwood. Since at least 1935, Cleveland police officers have excelled on and off the court.

In November of 1934, Detective Sergeant William Kelch #934 formed a basketball team, recruiting young officers from the Cleveland Police Department.  The team was very successful, ultimately winning the coveted Police-Fireman Basketball Championship of 1935.  The team was short-lived, though. Chief Matowitz ended their run, stating that allowing officers to play on the team on city’s time wasn’t appropriate.

Team members included James Halloran #488, William Halloran #123 (3rd from left), Herman Bath #295, Carl Obert #215, George Carnes #694, George Ballard #382, Harold Stuckey #1141 or Simonion Stuckey #139, Laurence Choura #546 (fifth from left), Leonard McGinty #1174, Thomas Barcik #1005, John Kreps #96, and Edward Kopacka #261

Championship Trophy, 1935
1935 Cleveland Police basketball team
Plain Dealer 1/31/1935

Future Cleveland Safety Director Alvin Sutton, Jr had a storied athletic career at Cleveland Heights High School and John Carroll before heading to the FBI. After seven years with the FBI, he became the Assistant Safety Director in Cleveland in 1947. Two years later, he was promoted to Safety Director, a job he held until 1952.

Al Sutton, Jr as a Cleveland Heights High Heights Tiger
Al Sutton, Jr’s 1936 Diploma from
Cleveland Heights High
Article describing Al Sutton, Jr.’s FBI career

Detective Clark Kellogg, #1291 was a star basketball, football and track star at East High School. Nicknamed “Mr. Do Everything,” Kellogg was a Scholastic All Star at East High and went on to play in college and then amateur basketball and football. After hanging up his Chuck Taylors, Kellogg joined the force, serving as Cleveland Police Officer from 1965-2008. 

His son, Clark Clifton Kellogg Jr. (born July 2, 1961) was drafted after his third year at Ohio State University by the Indiana Pacers NBA franchise, where he played three full and two partial seasons. Since retiring from the Pacers, Kellogg has worked as a television analyst for college basketball.

Clark Kellogg #1291
Plain Dealer, 6/2/1956

The Cleveland Police Athletic League is one of the oldest Athletic Leagues in the Nation and has a rich history dating back to its creation by Safety Director Eliot Ness in the late 1930s. Since its inception the Police Athletic League has provided opportunities for children in the community to participate in positive, wholesome sports, recreational, and extracurricular activities, including basketball.

Police Athletic League basketball game
Police Athletic League basketball team, 2019

Cleveland often sent basketball teams to the Ohio Police and Fire Olympics. The Ohio Police and Fire Games is an annual event held in a different location in Ohio the second week of June. The Games offer more than 35 events to participants, with local first responders coordinating the events. The Games draw competitors not only from all over the state of Ohio, but also from other states, and other countries. The Games have been held, under various names, continually since 1977.

A few years after the first Ohio games, Patrolman Don Holzheimer #1515 organized a Cleveland basketball team, recruiting players from the FOP softball team. He found a sponsor to underwrite uniforms and tried to set up practices, although that proved difficult since the officers worked rotating shifts. Although this team didn’t medal, they enjoyed their time playing against good teams from the Akron Police Department and the Ohio Highway Patrol.  

The Cleveland Police team won first place in 1983. That team included Eugene Bell #186, Marvin Cross #510, Benny Peterson #1749, Ted Taylor #725, Lamont Echols #2391 and Roosevelt Linder #716 plus coach Sgt. Ollie Davis #701.

From left to right (front row) Rich Butler #638, Lt. Tom McGuire #424, Boyce Sefcik #2509, Bill Bolton #620 and Leo Allen #83; (back row) Bill Candow #1882, Capt. Mark Emery #27, the late Sgt. Art Schwelgien #759, Ron Guttu #2382, Rick Schultz #2244, and Don Holzheimer #1515
Sticker from the Ohio Law Enforcement Olympics

Call & Post, 7/21/1983

The Cleveland Police powerlifting team also did well at the 1983 Ohio Police Olympics. The team included Helen Parries #2518, Larry Davis #128, Lt. Duane Leon (#2357), Don Reese, Lt. Richard Rutt (#1022), Walter Taylor #1554, and Robert Minor #2443
Call & Post, 9/15/1983
First Row: Benny Peterson #1749, Earl Williams, Eugene Bell #186, Marvin Cross #510, Lamont Echols #2391. Center: Robin Allen #394 and Bruce Leaks #84. Standing: Ollie Davis #701, Ted Taylor #725, Bruce Taylor #1090, Robert Weems (CSU Patrolman) and Roosevelt Linder #716

Commander of Community Policing Marvin Cross retired from the force in 2003, following 22 years as a dedicated Cleveland police officer. He soon accepted the position of Director of Security for the Cleveland Cavaliers NBA franchise. Cross had a front row seat to the rise of LeBron James and the resurgence of the Cavaliers. As a valued member of the organization, Cross received a championship ring in 2016.

Marvin Cross played on the 1983 Championship team at the Ohio Police Olympics (see above).

Commander Marvin Cross
Cross’s 2016 Championship Ring

NBA Cavaliers Director of Security Marvin Cross with Tristan Thompson at the 2016 Championship parade
NBA Cavaliers Director of Security Marvin Cross with the 2016 Championship trophy

The 1997 All-Star Game was held during the NBA’s 50th anniversary year at Gund Arena. Like with the 2022 festivities, the Cleveland Police Department will be there to protect and serve Clevelanders, visitors and the NBA players.

Plaque given to the Cleveland Police Department by the NBA after the 1997 All-Star Weekend, now in the collection of the Cleveland Police Museum
Gund Arena, photo credit to Thom Sheridan

Written by Cleveland Police Historical Society and Museum Executive Director Mazie M. Adams

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