Seven athletes join the Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame

Local News

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Recognize for excellence in athletics, seven standouts are joining the Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame.

This year’s inductees include well-known names like CNS basketball star Breanna Stewart, plus Floyd Little, a Syracuse University and NFL standout. JJ Grant is also joining the club. He was a Baldwinsville native who excelled on the University of Michigan’s football team.

Other inductees include West Genesee’s Dan Hunt for wrestling, SU football’s Pat Killorin, who is a Watertown native, Baldwinsville’s Jason Grilli who turned pro in baseball and Mike Naton, a local golfer who has won more majors than anyone in men’s Syracuse District Golf Association history.

The 33rd annual Indiction Ceremony will be held Monday, October 28th at 7 p.m. at the Oncenter in Syracuse.

Congrats to all!

You can read the entire press release below:


Syracuse, New York – July 15, 2019 –Today the Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame (GSSHOF) made the announcement of the seven new inductees into the Class of 2019 at a press conference that was held at the Sports Hall of Fame Showcase at Drivers Village in Cicero, NY. The 33rd Annual Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame Dinner and Induction Ceremony which will be held on Monday, October 28 at 7 p.m. at The Oncenter in Syracuse.

With the seven new inductees, a total of 247 men and women will have been inducted into the GSSHOF since the first Induction Ceremony in 1987. This year’s Inductees are:

J.J. Grant: Liverpool and Baldwinsville High School football and track and field and University of Michigan Football star; New York State outdoor record setter in shot put and discuss while at B’ville; beginning in sophomore year after transferring to Liverpool, won three consecutive state shot put championships; starred on the football field as fullback/linebacker and lettered in basketball at L’pool; set Penn Relays prep shot put record of 67’3” in 1985; as a senior in high school was named a Parade All-American football player and the NYS Athlete of the Year; selected as the Post Standard ‘Male Athlete of the Year’ in 1984 and 1985; Italian-American Club Award in 1985; first person to win four events (shot put, discuss, javelin, hammer throw) in the Empire State Games; played at the University of Michigan for head coach Bo Schembeckler and defensive coordinator Lloyd Carr; as sophomore made 62 tackles as linebacker; during junior and senior made 142 tackles, team went 20-3-1, beat arch-rival Ohio State twice, did not lose a Big Ten game, and culminated career by helping to beat Southern Cal in the Rose Bowl; inducted into Liverpool High School Athletic Hall of Fame in 1991

Jason Grilli: Baldwinsville High School, Seton Hall University, Major League Baseball star; professional baseball career spanned nearly twenty years; 24th round draft pick out of high school by the New York Yankees but decided not to sign in order to pitch collegiately for Seton Hall where he was all- Big East; became 1st round (number 4 overall) draft pick of the San Francisco Giants in 1997; made his major league debut with the Florida Marlins in 2000; pitched for nine big league clubs (White Sox, Tigers, Rockies, Rangers, Pirates, Angels, Braves, Blue Jays, and Marlins); 34-47 MLB record; 4.22 ERA; pitched in 595 big league games; 694 strikeouts in 684 innings; 79 saves – 69 saves in three year period (2013-15); 33 saves in 2013; 12 scoreless innings in 16 post season appearances; son of former major league and Syracuse Chiefs’ relief ace Steve Grilli

Dan Hunt: West Genesee High School wrestler; as freshman in 1971 won 112-lb class in Section III and finished as runner-up in the state tournament; in 1972 moved up to 119-lb class and won the New York State championship; defended his title in 1973 – and again in 1974; was first – and only – wrestler in the one-division era to win three consecutive New York State wrestling championships; selected to the 1974 High School All-America team by Wrestling USA Magazine; in 2018 was named among “The Elite” top 14 New York State wrestlers of all time by Amateur Wrestling News; his overall record during his last three years of high school was 86-0-1; won over 100 varsity wrestling matches; varsity lacrosse player at West Genesee as well; inducted into Section III Athletic Hall of Fame in 2007

Pat Killorin: Watertown High School, Syracuse University, NFL, Semi-Pro football standout; anchored Syracuse University – Ben Schwartswalder-coached – offensive line from 1963-1965; teams were 22-9 overall and 13-2 at old Archbold Stadium during those years; in 1965 blocked for SU greats Floyd Little, Larry Csonka, Jim Nance – team led the nation in all-purpose yards per game; first team All-East as junior and senior; 1964 first team All-America (Associated Press); 1965 first team All-America (Sporting News); SU’s Bill Horr MVP Award (1965); Schwartzwalder called him the best center he ever coached; SU Letter Winner of Distinction (1993); Zunic Award winner (2013); President Syracuse Football Club (2016-18); starting center East-West Shrine Game (1965), Hula Bowl (1966), College All-Star Game (1966); drafted by Pittsburg Steelers (NFL) and Miami Dolphins (AFL) (1966); player coach of semi-pro Watertown Red and Black (1969-72); Watertown Red and Black Hall of Fame (2013); AFA Semi-Pro Hall of Fame (2014); North Country Sports Hall of Fame (2017)

Floyd Little: Syracuse University, National Football League football star; three-time All-American for legendary SU Coach Ben Schwartzwalder; team went 22-10 including two bowl appearances during his last three years on the SU Hill; during SU career ran for 2,750 yards (5.4 yards per carry), averaged 11.6 yards per reception; scored 234 points; fifth in Heisman Trophy voting as junior and senior; 1966 ECAC Player of the Year; sixth player chosen in 1967 NFL draft by Denver Broncos; played entire 9 year career with Broncos; rushed for 6,323 yards, caught 215 passes, scored 54 touchdowns, gained over 12,000 all-purpose yards; 1st team All-Pro (1969); 5-time Pro-Bowler; returned to alma mater as special assistant to the athletics director in 2011; has received 19 professional athlete achievement awards; 31 community service awards; 1978 Walter Camp Man of the Year Award; 1992 NCAA Silver Anniversary Award; 2011 Walter Camp Distinguished American Award; enshrined in seven (now eight) halls of fame – including College (1983) and Pro Football (2010)

Mike Naton: Syracuse, Marcellus, Bishop Ludden High School and Western Kentucky University amateur champion; most decorated local amateur golfer – winning more majors than any other player in Men’s Syracuse District Golf Association history; won first SDGA “major” championship (Herald Amateur) in 1982; co-captain of the Western Kentucky golf team with roommate and future PGA and Champions Tour standout Kenny Perry, Naton was a two-time Ohio Valley all-conference selection; won 12 individual SDGA majors – five District Match Play championship (1982, ’89, ’95, ’96, 2001), four Herald Amateurs (’82, ’85, ’93, ’99), three Gerry Ashe Memorials (’86, ’99, 2001); four-time SDGA Player of the Year (’82, ’85, ’93, ’99); SDGA Post Standard Senior Champ (2016 and 2017); 2009 District Two- Ball Champion (with Dave Smith); 2017 District Senior Two-Ball Champ (with Don Christian); 12 Tuscarora Club Championship; one Bellevue Club Championship; two Foxfire Club Championships; SDGA Senior Player of the Year (2016, 2017); named to 30 Mitchell and Sovik Cup teams

Breanna Stewart: Cicero-North Syracuse High School, University of Connecticut; Olympics, WNBA women’s basketball star; while playing in high school for Coach Eric Smith – Gatorade Female Athlete of the Year, Naismith Prep Player of the Year, McDonald’s All-American; won gold medals for USA Basketball Under-16, Under-17, and Under-19 teams while in high school; one of two scholastic players – at the time – ever selected to the USA Pan-American Games team; USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year (2011, 2012, 2018); Associated Press Player of the Year (2014); Women’s Naismith College Player of the Year (2015, 2016), ESPY Award as Best Female Athlete; playing collegiately for Coach Geno Auriemma at UConn – won four consecutive NCAA championships; Most Valuable Player in all four Final Fours (a record); three-time consensus college Player of the Year; won Olympic Gold Medal (2016); first player chosen in WNBA draft (Seattle Storm); WNBA Rookie of the Year; WNBA MVP and WNBA Finals MVP; FIBA World Cup MVP; plays internationally (Shanghai Swordfish in China, Dynamo Kursk in Russia)

Please join Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame Board of Directors as we welcome the Class of 2019 and honor all the athletes, coaches, and administrators who have contributed to Syracuse’s proud sports heritage.

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