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    Croatian American Sports Hall of Fame announces 2024 inductees

    Washington, D.C. — The Croatian American Sports Hall of Fame (CAS-HOF) in conjunction with the National Federation of Croatian Americans Cultural Foundation (NFCACF) and co-hosting with the Croatian Fraternal Union, announces the 2024 CAS-HOF Class.

    The CAS-HOF Selection Committee announced the following 2024 inductees: Ralph Cindrich, Bill Fralic, Kara Grgas-Wheeler Goucher, Tim Grgurich, Jim Laslavic, John Mayasich, Frank Sinkwich, Frank Solich, Rudy Tomjanovich, Paul Tomasovich and Ferdinand “Fritzie” Zivic.  

    “This 2024 induction class includes several Croatian American living sports legends who will be enshrined in Pittsburgh on Saturday, October 26th, during festivities celebrating their accomplishments and their Croatian heritage,” said Steve Rukavina, CAS-HOF Co-Chair and President of the National Federation of Croatian Americans Cultural Foundation. 

    The CAS-HOF mission is to recognize Croatian Americanthat have attained national recognition for their accomplishments and contributions in sports. This year’s eleven honorees are exceedinglyaccomplished; from basketball, boxing, football, ice hockey, softball and cross country and track with several also making their marks in sports broadcasting and sports management after their athletic days had ended. Their accomplishments are imposing and CAS-HOF is recognizing them for their exemplary sports achievements and their Croatian heritage!

    Ralph Cindrich (Football-Sports Agent), from Avella, Pennsylvania and was a high school wrestling and football star. Cindrich attended University of Pittsburgh and achieved being an All American in wrestling (1969) and football (1971) and was selected to the University of Pittsburgh All-Time Football team. After a five-year NFL career, Cindrich, went on to become a lawyer and sports super-agent and signed many landmark contracts in the history of professional sports. He represented Bill Fralic, Al Toon, Will Wolford, Rodney Hampton, Gary Clark, Eric Green and Herschel Walker. Cindrich has also been inducted into the Italian American Sports Hall of Fame.

    Bill Fralic (Football), from Penn Hills, Pennsylvania and the highly recruited high school star went on the University of Pittsburgh and was named a consensus All-American his junior and senior seasons as an offensive lineman. Fralic was a first-round pick in the 1985 NFL draft and his sports agent was Ralph Cindrich.  Fralic was All-Pro in the NFL in 1986 and 1987 and had a reputation as a ferocious run blocker and also known for his “pancake block.”  He was selected for the 1980’s Pennsylvania “All Century” football team for his play with Penn Hills High School and his college jersey number “79” was retired at the University of Pittsburgh.

    Kara Grgas-Wheeler Goucher (Long Distance Runner), grew up in Duluth, Minnesota and is the most celebrated and acclaimed women’s athlete in the University of Colorado history. Kara was a seven-time NCAA All-American (cross country and track) and won three individual NCAA championships. Kara was a two time Olympian and the first American woman to ever medal in the 10,000-meter run in the World Championships.  Kara is also a New York Times best-selling author (2023).

    Tim Grgurich (Basketball), native of the Lawrenceville neighborhood of Pittsburghattended Central Catholic High School. Grgurich was a point guard on the University of Pittsburgh teams that played in the post season tournaments in 1963 and 1964. Grgurich was an assistant basketball coach at University of Pittsburgh for twelve years and then head coach for five years with an impressive 1980 post-season appearance. Grgurich has served as an assistant coach for several NBA teams over 36 years including extended stays with the Seattle SuperSonics. Grgurich is considered one of the all-time best defensive coaches in the NBA.

    Jim Laslavic (Football-Sports Broadcasting), from Etna, PA and was a star Penn State linebacker for three years and played in the Orange and Cotton Bowls. Laslavic was drafted in the third round in 1973 and played in the NFL for nine years (five with the Detroit Lions). Jim went on to a 36-year TV sports broadcasting career with many stellar accomplishments for the San Diego NBC and CBS affiliates.  Jim’s philanthropy work has been tremendously recognized with the “Laslavic Rotary Golf Tournament” and various other San Diego and Coronado, California charities. Laslavic served as the Honorary Chairman of the 2019 Holiday Bowl in San Diego.

    John Mayasich (Ice Hockey), from Eveleth, MN was undefeated with his high school hockey team over four years!  Mayasich was ranked  #1 of the best 100 high school hockey players in Minnesota by the Minneapolis Tribune. John led the WCHA conference in scoring in 1954 and 1955 and remains the leading scorer in Minnesota Gopher hockey history with 144 goals and 154 assists in 111 games! Mayasich won the silver medal in 1956 with the USA Olympic ice hockey team and the gold medal in 1960. Mayasich was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in 1976 and into the International Ice Hockey Federation Hall of Fame in 1997. 

    Frank Sinkwich (Football), born in Starjak (Zagreb), Croatia, was raised in Youngstown, Ohio. Frank was a two-time All-American football player from the University of Georgia. In 1941, he led the nation in rushing with 1,103 yards and was the prestigious 1942 Heisman Trophy winner. With the Detroit Lions, he earned All-Pro honors twice and was the NFL’s Most Valuable Player in 1944. Sinkwich was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1954.

    Frank Solich (Football), was born in Johnstown, PA and grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. He was an All-State football player at Holy Name High School and secured a scholarship to the University of Nebraska. Solich, known as “Fearless Frankie” earned All-Big Eight honors at fullback (1965). He coached 13 years at a high school before a 25-year stint at the University of Nebraska.  As the head coach there for six years, Solich had a .753-win percentage and was the Big Twelve Coach of the Year in 1999 and 2002. Solich went on to coach at Ohio University and is the winningest football coach in the Mid-American conference. He took the Miami Bobcats to eleven bowl games. Solich was recently selected for the 2024 Football College Hall of Fame class to be inducted in December of 2024. 

    Paul “King Kong” Tomasovich (Softball), the man, the myth, the legend, in Pittsburgh’s sports circles, was especially known for his tape-measure home runs. Tomasovich averaged more than 100 RBIs and more than 40 homers a season in leading Pittsburgh slow pitch teams to national stardom and playing in seven national championships. Five times, Tomasovich won All-American honors (between 1960-1965) and in the 1964 national, “Big Paul” also won the Most Valuable Player award. Tomasovich was inducted into the USA Softball Hall of Fame in 1992.

    Rudy Tomjanovich (Basketball), from Hamtrack, Michigan was a star University of Michigan basketball player who was selected as a 1970 All-American and holds the record there at the U of M for the most rebounds! Rudy had a very successful NBA career and was a five-time All-Star forward. Coach Tomjanovich was two-time NBA Champion head coach (1994-1995) during his Houston Rockets stay (1992-2003) and coached the gold medal 2000 USA Olympic basketball team.  Rudy is the first ever University of Michigan basketball player inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame-Class of 2020. 

    Ferdinand “Fritzie” Zivic (Boxing), the “Croat Comet” from Pittsburgh, followed four older Zivic brothers into the boxing ring. It was Fritzie who excelled and on October 4, 1940 defeated Henry “Hammering Hank” Armstrong to capture the Welterweight World Championship at Madison Square Garden. Zivic won 159professional fights (81 by KO) in his remarkable career, including a successful rematch with “Hammering Hank” Armstrong in 1941. Fritzie was inducted into the International BOXING HALL OF FAME (1992).

    The 2024 CAS-HOF Selection Committee members are: Matt Furjanic, Jr., Derek Hohn, Jerome Jurenovich, Jim Kresnik, Ken Krsolovic, Dino Mattessich, Vedran Joseph Nazor, Pete Radovich, Steve Rukavina and Tom Steich.

    The 2024 induction ceremony to the Croatian American Sports Hall of Fame will take place on Saturday, October 26, 2024 at the Pittsburgh Marriott City Center Hotel, 112 Washington Place, Pittsburgh, PA.   The CAS-HOF Committee is proud to announce that longtime sports broadcaster, Jerome Jurenovich will serve as the Master of Ceremonies for the October 26th banquet dinner. 

    Please contact the CAS-HOF Co-Chairs, Steve Rukavina at: [email protected]  or Vedran Joseph Nazor at: [email protected] for any questions and also, visit our CAS-HOF website at: croatianamericansports.com  


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