Canadian Football League

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Former Canadian Football League great going into Quad-City Hall of Fame

Each of them enjoyed at least one bright, shining moment in the national spotlight.
.One was the MVP of the Rose Bowl. One was the winning pitcher in the major league baseball All-Star Game. One officiated a Super Bowl.
.A week from Wednesday, all of them will go into the Quad-City Sports Hall of Fame together.
.Kenny Ploen, Dean Stone and Hugh “Sonny” Gamber will comprose the 19th batch of inductees into the Hall of Fame when they are honored at the annual Salute to Sports in the Quad-Cities. The event, which also honors the top high school athletes from the two-state region, is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. April 27 at the Davenport RiverCenter.

“I’m really looking forward to coming back and maybe seeing some old friends,” said Ploen, who now lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba. “This is a great opportunity.”
.Ploen, born and raised in Clinton, Iowa, has called Canada home since shortly after his playing career at the University of Iowa. He starred at quarterback for 11 years in the Canadian Football League, leading the Winnipeg Blue Bombers to four Grey Cup titles.
.As a high school athlete in Clinton, he was all-state in both football and basketball and won a state hurdles championship.
.At Iowa, he didn’t emerge as a starter until his senior season, but he became a Hawkeye folk hero when he did. He led the Hawkeyes to the Big Ten title in 1956, then was almost flawless in a 35-19 Rose Bowl victory over California. He ran 49 yards for the game’s first touchdown and completed 9 of 10 pass attempts.
.Stone was born in Moline, grew up in Silvis and was the star pitcher on the first baseball team ever fielded by what is now known as United Township High School. As a sophomore, he struck out 21 batters in a seven-inning game and two years later signed a major league contract.
.He pitched two no-hitters in the minor leagues for Charlotte in 1952, debuted in the majors with the Washington Senators in 1953 and had his best season in 1954, going 12-10. It was during that season that he was the winning pitcher in the All-Star game despite not retiring a batter. Red Schoendienst of the Cardinals was thrown out trying to steal home on the only pitch thrown by Stone.
.He later pitched for the Red Sox, Cardinals, Colt 45s (now Astros), White Sox and Orioles before retiring in 1964.
.Gamber, a Davenport native, retired to Florida many years ago after a career in which he officiated football, basketball and baseball at every level.
.He served as an official in the American Football League and National Football League from 1959 through 1975, doing 10 conference championship games and Super Bowl V. He also was part of the crew that worked the famous “Heidi” game in the early days of the AFL.
.Gamber also was a long-time basketball official in the high school and college ranks and spent seven years in the NBA. He also umpired Big Ten baseball game for 20 years.
.The plaques for the new Hall of Fame members will be placed with those of the 60 previous inductees at Third and 22, located at 2130 Third Avenue, Rock Island.


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