Withrow Alumni Otis Williams ’54 and Will Ernst ’52 were inducted into the 2017 Class of the Cincinnati Public Schools Athletic Hall of Fame. For a full program and listing of the CPS Hall of Fame 2016 Inductees, click HERE.
Will attended Withrow High School from 1948-1952 and was an extraordinary athlete as a member of both the Basketball and Baseball teams. While at Withrow, he earned six Varsity letters: two for Basketball and four for Baseball. In Basketball, he was one of six selected to the 1952 All-City Team and was elected Captain of the Basketball team that lost to Middletown H.S. coached by the legendary Paul Walker 67-48 in the 1952 Ohio Class A semifinal game. Withrow was coached by John Huheey who was previously inducted into the CPS Hall of Fame in 2016. In Baseball, he was nearly unhittable as a pitcher and was a major contributor to the 1950 Tiger squad that won the Ohio H.S. State Class A Championship defeating Amelia 6-1. While at the University of Cincinnati, he was a teammate of Jack Twyman and Connie Dierking and averaged 12.2 points and 6 rebounds per game while setting a UC record of 21 straight made free throws. As a member of UC’s baseball team, he was second all-time with a career ERA of 1.66. He also ranks fourth in career batting average by opponents of .209. Upon graduation from UC, he spent the 1957 season in the St. Louis Cardinals minor league system where as a pitcher he posted a season record of 12 wins and 9 losses. He went on to become a high school basketball coach at Withrow and Taft H.S. and spent 26 years as a teacher, coach, administrator and Athletic Director in the Hilliard school system. He gave credit for his achievements to his father Charles and Coach John Huheey. He had an international experience as a teacher and coach in Spain from 1969-1973. He coached two Spanish professional teams and taught school in five different cities. He was known as the “ultimate gentleman” with a gift for mentoring young people. He is survived by his wife of 56 years, Phyllis Lamblin (Withrow Class of 1953), daughters Sandi and Staci and son Moses.
Enrolling at Withrow H.S. as a sophomore, Otis earned Varsity letters in his first two years in both Gymnastics and Baseball where he played shortstop and batted .550 in his first year at Withrow. Playing Football for three seasons, he earned a Varsity letter in Football in his last two years. At 5’ 7” and 150 pounds, he played scatback, safety and kick-returner and was known for his speed and outstanding broken field running. He was named First Team All-City at Fullback by the Enquirer, Post and Times-Star as a Junior and First Team All-City Football by the Enquirer and Post and Second Team by the Times-Star as a Senior. In the first six games during his senior year, he averaged over 100 yards rushing per game. Otis scored 15 touchdowns in 1953 and was voted to the Hughes H.S. All-Opponent team. He was the only player to make all three all-city teams for two years. The Withrow football team went 22-4-1 during his time with the Tigers winning the PHSL championship each year. He was offered a football scholarship to continue his football career at Ohio State (one of many colleges that recruited him) and a letter of intent to join the Cincinnati Reds. In 1952, while still a student at Withrow, he joined a singing group known as The Charms. He had to choose between continuing to play football or a music career, which eventually won out over Football. In 1954, the group recorded the hit song “Hearts of Stone”, which reached #1 on the Rhythm & Blues charts. This popular song was featured in the Martin Scorcese film “Goodfellows”. He also wrote/produced/recorded “Two Hearts, Two Kisses”, which was Pat Boone’s first popular hit and was also recorded by Frank Sinatra and Doris Day. He went onto a successful career producing such hits as the original version of “The Twist” and “Fever”. As lead singer with The Charms and other groups, Otis arranged and produced the original version of “The Twist” and “Fever”. He continues to perform to this day and is a major force behind the movement to save the former King Records building in Cincinnati as well as its musical legacy.