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Issue Date: November 2006 Issue


Notorious Cleveland Tournament
Get your brackets ready: James Frey votes for himself as Don King, Sam Sheppard, the Torso Murders, Art Modell and the River Fire battle it out for the title.

When we named author James Frey one of our most notorious Clevelanders, we didn’t expect to hear from the ex-Oprah-endorsed author of “A Million Little Pieces.” Yet Frey visited our Web site and voted in our NCAA-style Notorious Cleveland Tournament.

We suspected an imposter, but his e-mail address began with “bigjimdorito,” his alias on the Oprah’s Book Club Web site, and on the phone, he told us his birthday, parents’ names and childhood address.

A local friend had told Frey he’d made the notorious issue. “I thought it was hilarious,” he says. “I was sort of proud.”

Frey picked himself to beat the city’s history of prostitution in round one, then smack down mischievously corrupt 1920s mayor Fred Kohler and conquer the Ohio City-Cleveland Bridge War of 1836. In the Elite 8, Frey picked Don King, boxing promoter and ex-manslaughter-convict, to knock him out. “People who mess with Don King tend to end up in a bad way,” he explains. “I don’t want to do that.”

Frey was eager to hear how he’d performed. “Did I get knocked out in the first round?” Yes, by prostitution, 57-12. “That sucks. Well, c’est la vie.

Nor did Frey win any of our prizes for readers who filled out the bracket. First prize, a trip on Lolly the Trolley’s Eliot Ness tour, went to David Strukel of Cleveland. Second prizes — John Stark Bellamy II’s six books on Cleveland crime and disaster — go to Jeffrey Sords of Westlake, Annika Roberta of Cleveland and Melinda Urick of Rocky River.

But who did Cleveland Magazine readers choose as the most notorious all time? Let’s go to the box scores.

First Round Highlights:
• All top seeds advance. Notable matchups:
The Flats 47, Tom Coyne 22
Default 49, Frank Gruttadauria 20
Art Modell 70, Countess Marie-Louise Von Castell 0
Ralph Perk’s Hair on Fire and Bowling Night 67, Wendy O. Williams 2
Cuyahoga River Fire 66, May Day Riots 3
George Forbes Throws Chair at Mike White 64, E.W. Scripps Fights Henry Chisholm 4
Torso Murders 59, Sharon Reed 10

Second Round Highlights:
• The first upset of the tournament: Sixth-seeded Fred Kohler, the mayor who painted the town orange and black, beats Prostitution, 29-22!
• Alan Freed’s Moondog Coronation Ball makes it tough for the Colavito Trade, but Rocky wins 36-30.
• All higher seeds except Prostitution advance.
Other scores:
Richard Eberling 31, Short Vincent Street 19
Albert Belle 41, George Forbes Throws Chair at Mike White 21
10-Cent Beer Night 63, Catherine Kaber 3
Art Modell 65, Taxmen Hound Grieving John D. Rockefeller 2

Sweet 16:
•  Robert Steele, the wife-killing judge from Euclid, takes out Ralph Perk, 26-19 — denying pyromaniacs’ dream Elite 8 matchup of Ralph Perk’s hair on fire vs. the River Fire.
• Don King knocks out top-seeded gangster Shondor Birns, 31-25!
• Cleveland’s 1978 default ends Fred Kohler’s Cinderella season, 23-12.
Other scores:
Sam Sheppard 54, Richard Eberling 1 (That settles that.)
Art Modell 57, 10-Cent Beer Night 8
Danny Greene 29, Albert Belle 20
Torso Murders 23, Rocky Colavito trade 22
River Fire 51, The Flats 3

Elite 8:
Default bankrupts Don King, 17-16! Robert Steele, the wife-killing judge, burns in the Cuyahoga River, 50-3. Sam Sheppard wrestles Danny Greene to the mat, 44-6. And, in a titanic battle between a sports vendetta and a serial killer, Art Modell dismembers the Torso Murders, 46-11.

Final Four:
The River Fire drowns Default, 39-6. And Art Modell shows Sam Sheppard who the real killer is, knifing Dr. Sam 36-12.

The Championship:
The arena fills with Modell-haters, and Clevelanders breathlessly watch the live coverage on Channel 19, with play-by-play by tastefully clad first-round loser Sharon Reed — as Art Modell puts out the Cuyahoga River Fire, 33-13. For taking the Browns to Baltimore in 1995, our readers crown Art Modell the Most Notorious Clevelander of All Time.  

Voicemail of the Month
I’m a subscriber to your magazine and a very happy subscriber in general. However, I was really disappointed and unhappy to see your use of “pimp” as a verb. It has no place in polite society. I’m a Cleveland resident and I love the urban environment, but I hate the connotations of pimp. It’s an ugly sex industry that supplies the word. I’m really surprised and disappointed to see that it was chosen for the issue, let alone the [October] cover.

Mailing It In
It’s a measure of the confidence Michael Vu’s bosses have in him that the county commissioners have made commercials urging people to vote by mail (“Your Vote Counts! Or Does It?” October 2006). He may make a good candidate for “Jeopardy!” but he should not have been allowed to jeopardize another election.

Mel Maurer

Presser-ing Us
I loved your August issue (“Notorious Cleveland”). One question, though: How did Jackie Presser get left off the list?

Jeff Klucas     
Louisville, Ky.

I just finished reading “Notorious Cleveland” and I’m wondering: Where is Jackie Presser? He was president of the Teamsters, mobbed up and an FBI rat.

Joe Campese

Corrections:The following corrections apply to our September 2006 guide to private elementary and high schools. We regret the errors.
• St. Augustine Academy closed in 2005 and did not combine with St. Joseph Academy.
• Tuition at Saint Martin de Porres High School is $2,000 per year.
• Medina Christian Academy’s Web address is and the school has 25 faculty members.

Sunday, October 25, 2009 7:32:05 PM by Anonymous
Don King would never knock out Shondor Birns. I smell a racket going on here!

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