Former Collinwood football great Inducted into Cleveland Sports Hall of Fame

Sam's Ohio State picture

Sam Palumbo, CHS Class of 1951 and 1996 CHS Hall of Fame Inductee was inducted to the Greater Cleveland Sports Hall of Fame on September 15, 2016. Along with Sam Mike Bartley (Hockey), Brad Friedel (Soccer), Kevin Mack (Football), Mike Moran (Basketball), Jeff Radosevich (Horse Racing) and Karen Wittrock (Basketball) were also inducted. The Cleveland Sports Hall of Fame was established in 1976 by the Greater Cleveland Chapter of the National Bicentennial Sports Committee to celebrate the nation’s 200th birthday. Including the Class of 2016, 508 people covering 30 different sports have been inducted.

It was all about football and family for Sam Palumbo.  Growing up in Cleveland’s Collinwood neighborhood, he made a name for himself playing football and basketball for the Railroaders. He captained both teams into his senior season in 1951. As a defensive lineman, he earned All-East Side Senate, All-Scholastic and All-Ohio honors. He could have played in the City Championship basketball game, but as a mid-year graduate, he was already enrolled at the University of Notre Dame.

Earning a role as a defensive tackle, he was on the Fighting Irish varsity as a freshman under legendary coach Frank Leahy. He was an All-Midwest selection as a sophomore and on the once-tied 1953 team. After earning four letters, he was a first team All-Catholic pick and played in the North-South game in Miami.

The 195-pounder caught the eye of another legendary coach as he was selected by Paul Brown to play linebacker for the Browns in 1955. In the self-proclaimed highlight of his career, he replaced an injured Chuck Noll and helped the Browns defeat the Los Angeles Rams, 38-14, for the NFL title that year.

But football remained in his blood for the next 40 years as he became a dean of Northeast Ohio’s officiating ranks, retiring from both the gridiron and his insurance business in 2001. He was always helpful lending wisdom to young officials learning the rules and regulations of the high school game. He was honored with the Cleveland Touchdown Club Bobby Brown service award in 2002 and a member of the first class in the Greater Cleveland Football Officials Hall of Fame in 2009. He was inducted into the Collinwood High School HOF in 1996.

Through it all, he was with his high school sweetheart, Catherine. The couple, married for 60 plus years, raised five sons and a daughter, while residing in Lyndhurst, Ohio.

Michael Cavotta

Currently the residing President of the Collinwood High School Alumni Association. Notable acedemic/athletic CHS 1962 grad, Engineering degree from OSU. Founder and owner of Performance Concepts a multi media engineering firm located in Mentor, OH. An innovator in intereactive healthcare products and services. Retired and living in Thompson, Ohio with his wife Wendy.

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Volume 8, Issue 10, Posted 7:55 PM, 10.03.2016