Part III: the Lithuanian Community of Cleveland to World War II

Sports Activity

In 1938 the Cleveland Lithuanian Sports Club hosted the first American-Lithuanian Basketball Tourament. In addition to the Lithuanian Athletic Club team, the Saint George’ Seniors of Cleveland, and the Cleveland Leaders, there were teams from Dayton and Akron, Ohio; Gary, Indiana; and Dubois, Pennsylvania.[1] Two years later the American-Lithuanian Athletic Association, created in Cleveland in 1938 with George Venslovas as president,[2] and the Cleveland Lithuanian Athletic Club sponsored the Third Lithuanian National Basketball Tournament. This time there were nineteen teams. In addition to the forementioned, teams came from Pittsburgh and Duquesne, Pennsylvania; Waukegan, Chicago, and Cicero, Illinois; Niagara Falls and Amsterdam, New York; Detroit, Michigan; and Racine, Wisconsin.[3]

Lithuanians in America tended to be very sports minded. In Cleveland the Prokop (Prokopas) brothers became well known for their athletic ability. Attending Cathedral Latin High, Edward and Joseph were the only brothers to enter that school’s athletic hall of fame. After high school Edward went on to Georgia Tech where he obtained a degree in engineering and played football. In 1943 he was selected as an All American and came in second for the Heisman trophy. After graduation he played professional baseball for the New York Yankees from 1946 to 1949.[4]

While attending Cathedral Latin, Joseph took part in track and became state champion in the low hurdle division. In 1938 he took part in the Lithuanian Olympics where he won three gold and one silver medals, as well as another gold in a relay event. Joseph attended Notre Dame University where he played football and continued in track. After graduation in 1942 he went on to law school and obtained a Doctor of Law degree from Cleveland Marshall Law School.[5] Other local sport talents included Frank Marcinkevičius, Cleveland golden glove champion in 1932, and Antanas Adomaitis, who was rated as the top nonprofessional basketball player in Cleveland in 1931.[6]

  1. Pirmas Amerikos Lietuvių Basketball Tournamentas (The First Lithuanian Basketball Tournament), (Cleveland, 1938), 11.
  2. John Jakubs (Jakubauskas), Amerikos Lietuvių Sporto Istorija (Sports History of Lithuanians In America), 102.
  3. Third Lithuanian Annual National Basketball Tournament, (Cleveland, 1940), 10, 11.
  4. Jakubs, Amerikos, 36, 47, 52, 59, 130, 131.
  5. This information was obtained from the archives of Joseph Prokop on 2 May 1975.
  6. Jakubs, Amerikos, 46, 99.


Lithuanian Americans and Their Communities of Cleveland Copyright © 2020 by Cleveland State University . All Rights Reserved.

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