5 Middletown athletes everyone should know

Todd Bell

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Todd Bell

Middletown’s incorporation date was Feb. 11, 1833, meaning today is the city’s 184th birthday.

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Here are five athletes, listed in alphabetical order, from Middletown. Visit Facebook.com/JournalNews and tell us who else you think should be on the list.


After graduating from Middletown High School, Todd Bell was a four-year starter at Ohio State University at defensive back. His junior season, against Michigan, Bell scooped up the blocked punt and ran it in 18 yards and a final score of 18–15. This play sent Ohio State to the 1980 Rose Bowl and a shot at that year’s national championship.

He later played with the Chicago Bears from 1981 to 1984, missing the 1985 Super Bowl because of a contract dispute. He played the 1986 season with the Bears, and two more with the Philadelphia Eagles.

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He suffered a fatal heart attack on March 16, 2005 while driving his car in Reynoldsburg, Ohio.


After a stellar basketball and football career at Middletown High, Cris Carter played football at OSU, then spent from 1987 to 2001 in the NFL with the Eagles, Vikings and Dolphins.

After six years, and five finalist selections, Carter was voted to the Football Hall of Fame on Feb. 2, 2013, beginning the only player drafted in the supplemental draft elected into the Hall of Fame.

MORE: Cris Carter was ‘something special’ to sports, city

Carter has worked as an analyst on HBO’s Inside the NFL, ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown and Monday Night Countdown, and online at Yahoo Sports.


Kayla Harrison, who was born in Middletown and trained in Boston, is the only American to win two Olympic gold medals in judo.

On Aug. 2, 2012, she won the Olympic title, defeating Gemma Gibbons of Britain by two yukos, to become the first American to win an Olympic gold medal in judo. She earned a second Olympic gold medal in the same weight class in 2016 in Rio, defeating Audrey Tcheuméo of France.

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She has returned to Middletown several times for citywide celebrations and to assist needy children.


Jerry Lucas led the Middies to back-to-back boys basketball state titles and a 76-game winning streak. He’s one of the few players ever to win titles in high school, college (Ohio State), Olympics (1960 in Rome) and NBA (1972-73 New York Knicks).

He remains the only three-time Big Ten Player of the Year, and was also twice named NCAA Player of the Year.

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As a pro, Lucas was named All-NBA First Team three times, a NBA All-Star seven times, was 1964 NBA Rookie of the Year, and was named Most Valuable Player of the 1965 NBA All-Star Game.

At the All-Star Game in Cleveland in 1997, he was introduced as one of The 50 Greatest NBA Players.


Kyle Schwarber has made the most of his two seasons with the Chicago Cubs, recovering from a series knee injury early last season to help the Cubs to their first World Series championship in 108 years.

He was a standout football and baseball player at MHS. He was lightly recruited to play baseball and signed at Indiana University. He had three outstanding seasons at Indiana, being a finalist for the Johnny Bench Award given to college’s best catcher his junior year.

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Schwarber was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the first round, fourth overall, in the 2014 Major League Baseball draft.

In July 2015, he played in the All-Star Futures Game in Cincinnati, where he was named the MVP of the game after hitting a go-ahead two-run triple for Team USA.

The Cubs promoted Schwarber to the major leagues on June 16, 2015, to serve as a designated hitter for six games during interleague play. He finished the 2015 regular season having played 69 games, recording a .246 batting average with 16 home runs, 52 runs scored, and 43 RBIs.

PHOTOS: Kyle Schwarber through the years

Last season, he played only two games before he was involved in an outfield collision with teammate Dexter Fowler on April 7, 2016, and was removed from the game with a left leg injury. The Cubs added Schwarber to their roster for the 2016 World Series, and recorded seven hits, including one double, two RBIs, and one stolen base while batting for a .412 batting average and maintaining a .500 on-base percentage.

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