BIRTHPLACE: Cambridge, Mass.
BORN: April 21, 1936
TEAMS/ASSOCIATIONS: Harvard University, United States National Olympic Teams
Bob Cleary was one of the great college players to come out of the East in the post-World War II era. Playing three varsity seasons at Belmont Hill prep school, he led his team to three consecutive Massachusetts private school titles. At the same time he played on the National AHAUS Junior Champion Cusick team from 1952-54. From there it was on to Harvard and three memorable seasons under coach Ralph “Cooney” Weiland. Over the course of his career at Harvard Cleary scored 202 points on 100 goals and 102 assists. In both 1957 and 1958, his point totals were enough to lead the nation in scoring. The team captain was named to the prestigious All-American team at center as well in 1958.
In both the previously cited seasons Cleary’s ability and leadership brought the Crimson to the NCAA tournament where they placed fourth both years. During his college career Cleary was also named All-East in 1957 and 1958, as well as receiving the prestigious Walter Brown Trophy in both seasons. That award, named after an enshrinee of the Hall of Fame, is given to the outstanding American player at an Eastern college.
Cleary was also a key member of the 1959 United States National Team which finished fourth in the World Tournament at Prague. A late addition to the 1960 Olympic Team, Cleary teamed with his brother Bill and former Harvard linemate Bob McVey to form one of the upstart Americans most effective lines. Cleary finished third in scoring during the Olympic tournament with five goals and three assists. His brother, Bill, was also inducted into the Hall of Fame, just five years earlier.