LOS ANGELES — Two-time gold medal diver Sammy Lee ’43, Oxy women’s sports pioneer Pat Yeomans ’38 and Tigers football coach Bill Redell ’64 highlighted a class of eight Oxy sporting legends that were inducted as the inaugural class into the Occidental College Athletics Hall of Fame on Oct. 26.
Joining Lee, Yeomans, and Redell are Dean Cromwell, Class of 1902 (track & field); Bud Teachout ’27 (baseball); Bob McMillen ’53 (track & field); Jack Kemp ’57 (football); and Bob Gutowski ’58 (track & field).
The group boasts a long list of impressive accomplishments that you wouldn’t expect a small, nationally prestigious liberal arts institution to have.
“There are few colleges of our size that can boast such an impressive record of achievement,” Occidental College president Jonathan Veitch said to an audience of more than 250 underneath the lights at Jack Kemp Stadium.
Presenters shared stories about the three living inductees that at times made the dinner feel more like a roast.
“There’re two transcripts (that Occidental College) won’t show,” Redell said. “Obama’s and mine. … You won’t see them.”
And the jokes weren’t just limited to the inductees.
Back row, left to right: Occidental College President Jonathan Veitch, Oxy football coach Bill Redell '64, athletic director Jaime Hoffman. Front row: Sammy Lee '43 (left), Pat Yeomans '38.
Paul Solato, a childhood friend and classmate of Lee, threw a handkerchief at Jim Tunney, a former 31-year veteran NFL official and Oxy grad who attended the event.
“Upon further review, the ruling on the field stands,” Solato said, poking fun at Tunney by saying he scored higher on the referee’s test than anyone else in every category besides “eyesight and judgment.”
Tunney wasn’t the only big NFL name or the only Oxy grad that was mocked. Redell took the easy jab at his longtime friend Jim Mora poking fun at his infamous “playoffs” rant that is now featured in several beer commercials.
At other times, the show took on a more heartfelt tone.
“I know longer worry if my next dive will take me into orbit,” Lee said, speaking emotionally about his grandchildren. “Because I have been blessed to play with angels on earth.
“I want to thank Occidental for honoring me. But I think the honor should go to my family.”
Yeomans, who was the first woman to earn an Oxy “O,” wore her letter jacket proudly, as her son Bill read through the great tennis ambassador’s career highlights.
At the beginning of the ceremony, Oxy athletic director Jaime Hoffman presented her vision for Oxy athletics, saying that those who enjoyed a great experience at Oxy must now help foster that environment for future Tigers. Hoffman painted a picture of her most cherished athletic memory — scoring the winning run in the state championship for her high school softball team. She challenged those in attendance to help generate phenomenal stories for the next generation of Tigers.
“There isn’t much we can directly do to influence the story. But we can make sure that we have the best leaders and role models in place to guide these stories,” Hoffman said. “And we can do our best to make sure that our facilities are up to par, the backdrop for these stories. And that’s where we have work to do.”
Tiger Club president Paul Finchamp '80 hosted the event.
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