Long before I was on the prep scene in the Menomonee Falls area and even longer ago than John Burlingham, Paul Matyas, Bob Zuck or Al Curtis were around, there was Lenny.
His name was actually Leonard J. Ullsperger, Sr., but to fans of the old broadsheet Shinners Publications Menomonee Falls News, the byline was just "By Lenny." He wrote folksy, insightful, detail-laden accounts of everything athletic in the Falls in the 1950s and 1960s.
How influential and memorable was he?
When all-time Falls great John Budde put together a recent reunion of the terrific late 1950s hoops teams he starred on, among the most prized memorabilia he laid out at the Trysting Place Pub were scrapbooks full of Ullsperger's stories.
Ullsperger, who passed away just a few years ago, also lived and breathed Land O' Lakes baseball, serving as a player, commissioner and coach for many years and earning induction into its Hall of Fame in 1992 (an honor he shares with his son, Terry). He also coached St. Mary's grade school football for many years.
The tall, gregarious Ullsperger was an athlete in his own right, earning six letters at old Falls High School (the long-gone Lincoln School Building) and claiming all-conference honors in football back in the leather-helmeted days of 1939.
He also raised a large and athletically inclined family that gave back to the Falls through much excitement on cool fall Friday nights on the gridiron and sunny summer days on the dusty Trenary Park diamond. A total of 11 of his children and grandchildren have earned letters at Falls high schools over the years.
And so now the community will give back to Ullsperger, as he will be a highlight member of the sixth annual class of inductees into the Falls Athletic Hall of Fame on Friday.
He will head up a class that includes 1970s basketball, baseball and cross country star Mike Ehler; 1980s football and track ace Bob Kronenberg; 1980s track and basketball phenom Andreas Klotz; 1990s state championship swimmer Megan Grunert and long-time track, football and gymnastics coach Ron Burling.
The honorees will be introduced at halftime of the Falls-Sussex Hamilton football game Friday night (kickoff at 7 p.m.) and following its completion there will be the unveiling of the plaques in the high school cafeteria. The public is encouraged to attend the plaque ceremonies.
- Steven L. Tietz, Staff Writer
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