1994 inductees

  • Rodney Dingle
    Football 1994

The name was the same, and so was the game. When Rodney Dingle came out of East High in 1962, he decided to continue his football career at the College of Wooster, where his brother Tommy had starred from 1956-58. And by the time he graduated, Rodney Dingle’s name was right there alongside his brother’s in the Fighting Scot record book. Dingle, like his brother a running back, averaged nearly six yards a carry in his Wooster career. On 337 attempts he gained 1,948 yards and scored 21 touchdowns. But Dingle’s senior season was his most outstanding. He rushed for 1,086 yards on 168 carried (6.5 average) and scored 15 touchdowns. He also was the Scots’ top pass receiver (15 catches, 264 yards, 17.6 average), Kickoff returner (eight returns, 187 yards, 23.4 average) and scorer (94 points). A first-team All-Ohio Conference selection, Dingle also was chosen as winner of the Mike Gregory Award as the top offensive player in the Conference. Brother Tom won the award in 1957. Dingle also has been enshrined in the College of Wooster and East High School halls of fame. An active community servant, Dingle has served on the board of trustees of the Akron Urban League, and in 1986 received the Touchdown Club of Akron’s Youth Service Award.

  • Russell Holmes
    Football, Basketball 1994

In this day of specialization, Russell Holmes was a rare athlete at The University of Akron where he was the first in 23 years to letter in both football and basketball. A native of Mansfield, OH, the 6-3, 215 pound Holmes was recruited as a wide receiver in 1981. After earning a letter as a receiver, Head Coach Jim Dennison switched him to outside linebacker where he earned three more letters. As a junior in 1983 Holmes played well enough to earn first team All-Ohio Valley Conference (OVC). Later that year, basketball coach Bob Huggins, needing playing talent, asked Dennison if he had any athletes with basketball experience. Holmes was recommended and he promptly earned two letters to become the first UA player since Hall of Famer Tom Adolph, who did it in 1961, to letter in football and basketball. It was in basketball that Holmes almost got the perfect ending to his athletic career. In 1985-86, as UA’s starting center, Holmes averaged almost 10 points and five rebounds and let the Zip cagers in steals (61) to help the team capture the OVC Championship. It brought UA its first and only NCAA I Tournament bid. For his effort, Holmes was accorded the honor of UA’s Male Athlete of the Year.

  • Paul Segerlund
    Golf 1994

A tireless worker at the game of golf, Segerlund first gained notice by winning the Portage Country Club Caddy Championship in 1926 when he was 16. The years later he won the Ohio Public Links title and followed up with the All Akron Championship, both at Good Park in Akron. As an amateur, he won the Akron District Golf Association Match Play Championship in 1939 at Silver Lake, in 1941 at Barberton Brookside and in 1944 at Breathnach. Segerlund continued to accumulate honors after turning pro in 1947. The Akron Open title was his in 1950 when, competing as the golf instructor at Mayfield Country Club, he beat Joe Thacker in an 18-hole playoff at Tam-O-Shanter in Canton. Segerlund played in numerous PGA Tour events, including three times in the American Golf Classic at Firestone Country Club where he finished third one year in a field that included some of the Tour’s best players. In the 1959 PGA Championship, competing as a club pro representing the Michigan Section of the PGA of America, Segerlund shot a 67 in the first round. He worked as an assistant pro at the Miami Shores Country Club and the Country Club of Detroit before becoming head pro at the Fairlawn Golf Range for two years and then at Fox Den Fairways in Stow before retiring in 1973. His teaching abilities were recognized in Golf Magazine on several occasions. Segerlund passed away in 1991.

  • Donald E. Lombardi
    Baseball 1994

In the early years, baseball was his life and he played it well. A catcher by choice, Don Lombardi was a “little guy” by today’s standards – playing most of his career with about 140 pounds, most of it heart, on his 5-6 frame. He excelled on area sandlots in the Greater Akron AA Baseball League and at the University of Akron. Don broke into the AA League as a 16-year old with Chester’s Diner. A year later he was with Krispy Kreme where he put in three seasons and had one season with Zoff Heating before joining the newly formed Tramonte Black Label team in 1960. Lombardi batted .428 that first year with the Black Labels and was voted the Frank Garcia Award as the League’s MVP. While with Tramonte, which dominated the AA League for years, Lombardi helped the Labels capture three Ohio American Amateur Baseball Congress Championships. He was named to the AA All-Star team for 12 consecutive seasons before his career ended with an Achilles tendon injury at the age of 32. Intermixed with the AA League was a four-year career at UA from 1957 thru 1960. For the Zips, Don batted .410 in ’57 and was UA’s MVP and first team All-Ohio Conference choice in ’58 when UA was co-champs in the OC with a 12-4 record. However, it is evident that Lomardi’s memory has faded and he’s become rather sentimental when he says the highlight of his baseball career was when he performed as the all-day pitcher on his 8-year old grandson’s instructional league team in 1993. Spoken like a living grandfather! In 1983, Don, who caught such Hall of Famers as Dave Young, Ray Glinsky and Jack DiLauro, was in the second class inducted into the Greater Akron Baseball Hall of Fame.

  • James "Jimmy" Brown
    Wrestling 1994

A two-time All-American wrestler at the University of Michigan, Brown earned his first recognition as Akron City Champion in the eighth grade at Hyre Junior High. Team captain at Ellet High for three years, he never lost a dual meet in junior or senior high school. Brown’s athletic ability and coordination made it almost impossible to put him on his back, said Ellet wresting coach Herman Huth. His record while in high school is impressive: District Champion three times, fourth in the state finals as a sophomore and State Champion as a junior and senior, and National Senior YMCA Champion at 114-1/4 pounds by winning five matches in competition at Bakersfield, California. This performance qualified Brown for the U.S. Junior World Team which he captioned as they competed in Tokyo. While in high school, Brown won numerous open freestyle championships and was a high school All-American wrestler. In earning four letters at Michigan where he wrestled at 118 pounds, Brown was Big 10 runner-up as a sophomore and Big 10 Champion as a senior. One of three finalists for Senior Athlete of the Year at Michigan, he graduated in 1975. Now a science teacher at Kimpton Middle School in the Stow-Munroe Falls school system, he also coaches wrestling there.

  • Walt Zimmerman
    Official 1994

There are few who can match Zimmerman’s record of 55 years as a basketball official in the Ohio High School Athletic Association. When grade school officials gave him his first opportunity to work a game, Zimmerman called four fouls on his brother. They knew they had a born referee. A Buchtel High School graduate, he served in the U.S. Navy where he coached the Central Pacific championship basketball team about the USS Prairie during World War II. Zimmerman later coached at Ohio’s Bluffton College, his alma mater, and earned a masters at Kent State University, before beginning a long teaching and coaching career which included 25 years in the Akron Public Schools. In addition to refereeing the top high school games in Ohio in regular season and state championship competition, Zimmerman officiated basketball for 17 years in the Ohio Conference. He even had the entertaining challenge of refereeing Globetrotters games at Bluffton and Cincinnati, and though the years worked.

  • Sam Wise
    Baseball 1994

Anytime a great shortstop comes along, he is compared to the greatest shortstop of them all, Honus Wagner. When Honus Wagner came along, he was compared to a great shortstop from Akron – Sam Wise. Wise, born in Akron in 1857, was the star of perhaps the greatest baseball team in Akron history – the Akrons, several of whom would later play in the big leagues. Wise himself had an 11-year big-league career between 1881 and ’93. He spent seven seasons with the Boston Red Stockings of the National League. His best year was 1887 when he batted .334, which ranked fifth in the league. Wise also played for Detroit and Washington in the NL, Buffalo of the Players League and Baltimore of the American Association. A 5-foot-10, 170-pound left-handed hitter, Wise batted .272 for his career and knocked in a career-high 102 runs in 1890. Wise died in Akron on January 22, 1910.

  • Doug Marsh
    Football 1994

If you were a receiver on one of Bo Schembechler’s run-oriented University of Michigan football teams, you had to make the most of your opportunities. “I knew when I was a sophomore and again when I was a junior that I’d better catch the ball,” tight end Doug Marsh said during his senior year with the Wolverines, “because if I didn’t, he wasn’t going to throw to me anymore!” Marsh’s philosophy served him well. In three seasons with the Wolverines (1977-79), the East High product hauled in 57 passes for 947 yards, a 16.6-yard average, and scored 10 touchdowns. As a senior, Marsh grabbed 33 passes for 612 yards (18.5 average) and scored three TDs in earning All-Big Ten Conference honors. Moreover, Marsh helped Michigan to three Big Ten championships. He played in two Rose Bowl games and one Gator Bowl game. But he was fare from through, Marsh was selected by the St. Louis Cardinals in the second round of the 1980 NFL draft. Marsh was a 7-year starter for the Cardinals and posted career totals of 166 receptions for 2,129 yards (12.8 average) and scored 19 touchdowns. His best season was 1984 when he grabbed 39 passes for 608 yards and five scores. He registered a career-high eight touchdowns in 1983. This is the second year in a row that Marsh enters a hall of fame. In 1993, he was enshrined at East High, where he earned first-team All-Ohio honors in 1975.

  • Mike Phillips
    Basketball 1994

Some coaches criticized Manchester basketball coach Bernie Conley when he decided to start 14-year old freshman Mike Phillips on the varsity squad. Maybe it was just envy. That first season Phillips averaged 21 points to lead the Suburban League in scoring. Three years later, the 6-11, 245 pound Phillips led the Panthers to a 26-0 season and the 1974 Ohio AA Championship. During his four seasons at Manchester three were few records he didn’t break, including Jerry Lucas’ Ohio prep scoring mark of 2,460 points at Middleton High . Phillips netted 2,573 points and twice was selected first player to repeat that honor. Some people criticized Phillips’ decision to play basketball at the University of Kentucky. That was just too big a jump. Wrong again! Phillips played four years for the Wildcats and became one of their top all-time scorers with 1,367 points. He was a reserve on the 1975 NCAA runner-up squad, but stared on UK’s 1976 NIT championship team, the 1977 NCAA East Regional finalist squad before helping the Wildcats with the 1978 National title. Phillips was drafted by the New Jersey Nets but couldn’t quite make it in the NBA, however, he did play pro ball in Spain for 13 years. While with Barcelona, this Akron native helped his team capture the 1981 championship at Spain and finish runner-up in the European Cup. And in 1986 Phillips was voted MVP in the Spanish League.

  • Bradley J. Reese·

Football 1994

This native of New Philadelphia, OH and former Tusky Valley High School gridder was a linebacker par excellence for Hall of Fame coach Jim Dennison at The University of Akron from 1978 thru ’81. Brad Reese is UA’s only two-time NCAA I AA first team All-American and, along with Hall of Famer Steve Cockherham, a linebacker, and tailback Mike Clark, are the school’s only three-time All-Americans in football. By the fifth game of his freshman season, Reese was the Zips’ starting inside linebacker. When the season ended Brad, who grew to 6-1, 230 pounds, was the team leader in tackles with 104. He doubled that output in 1979 to earn honorable mention All-America from the Associated Press. The following campaign Reese established UA’s all-time single season tackle record with 221 to earn first team All-Ohio Valley Conference and first team Kodak-American Football Coaches Association All-America honors. He repeated the latter two honors in 1981. Over Reese’s 43-game career he established and continues to hold the following records: most tackles-game (35); most assisted tackles-game (25), both versus Western Kentucky in 1980; most tackles-season (221) and most assisted tackles-season (115), both in ’80 and most assisted tackles-career (352). In 1993, Reese was inducted into UA’s Sports Hall of Fame.

  • James Tyree·

Baseball, Football, Track & Field, Coach, Wrestling 1994

One of the most gifted athletes in Baldwin-Wallace College history, James “Tiger” Tyree earned 10 varsity letters in football, wrestling and track. He was ineligible for baseball because this versatile athlete played two years in the Cleveland Indians farm system after graduating from Akron’s Ellet High School in 1949. At B-W he lettered four years in football, playing both offense and defense and leading the nation’s small college punters in 1953 with a 42.18 yard average per kick. In his junior year Tyree was B-W’s Most Valuable Player and received numerous other honors. He was elected team captain his senior year, but a knee injury kept him on the sidelines much of the season. As a wrestler he earned three letters with the injury curbing his activity as a senior. Tyree also won three tack letters while participating in the 100, 200 and 400-yard dashes, relay teams and the long jump. Following graduation, he coached football and track at Medina County’s Highland High School for one year, and spent 33 years at Stow High School coaching football, wrestling, basketball, soccer and track. His wrestlers compiled a 166-78 record with six state champions, 30 state qualifiers, five Metro Championships, five sectional championships and two district championships. His teams were third in the state on two separate occasions. The Summit County Wrestling Hall of Fame inducted Tyree in 1982 and he was named Stow Teacher of the Year in 1980.

  • Debbie Bennett Rinella

Bowling 1994

Super Bowler Rinella first tried the sport when she was six and since then she has collected a set of trophies a lane long. She has maintained a 200 plus average since 1980, reaching 227 in the 1992-93 season, highest in the state and third highest in the nation. She has more than sixty-five 700 series to her credit, a single high series of 785 and six perfect 300 games. A four-time Beacon Journal Female Bowler of the Year, Rinella beat long odds in Las Vegas in 1987 when she won the $25,000 first prize in the Ladies Pro Bowlers Tour Sam’s Town National Pro-Am. She beat four veteran pros for victory in what was only her second pro tournament appearance. She was a last-minute entry, competing while on vacation from her job at United Parcel Service. In 1986 Rinella anchored the U.S. women’s efforts in the American Zone Amateur Championships in Bogota, Colombia. She won medals in three events and led the team to a silver medal. Rinella was a member of the Akron All-Star team nine times and won the Akron Women’s City Tournament three times. She was on teams that won six Ohio titles and she has three doubles, one singles and three all-event wins on the state level. At the Women’s International Bowling Congress in 1987 Rinella was on the championship team in the open division. The Dapper Dan organization recognized her as Female Athlete of the Year in 1987.

  • Bobby "Bingo" Smith·

Basketball 1994

A native of Memphis, TN, Bobby Smith played his college ball at the University of Tulsa. As a senior in 1968-69, “Bingo” led the Missouri Valley Conference in scoring with 24 points a game. His effort earned him All-MVC first team honors as well as All-America Accolades from the United Press and the Associate Press. Smith used that later performance as a springboard into the NBA, playing a season with the San Diego Rockets before going to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 1970 expansion draft. The 6-6 forward played 10 years with the Cavs and currently is the franchise’s all-time leader in games played. While playing in those 720 games Smith scored 9,513 points for a 13.2 average. His best year, scoring-wise was in 1974-75 when he netted 15.9 points per game. However, “Bingo’s” most memorable season was as a starter on the 1976 “Miracle of Richfield” team. Smith not only helped the Cavs post their first winning season, 49-33, but captured the Central Division title. The Cavs proved the triumph was not a fluke by beating the Washington Bullets in the playoffs before being eliminated by eventual champions, the Boston Celtics. His outstanding career was culminated with the retirement of Smith’s no. 7 jersey. In 1982, Smith was inducted into the Tulsa Sports Hall of Fame.

  • Henley K. Freeman·

Official 1994

Football fans have been known to question and officials’ eyesight but that always was a mistake when the official was Henley freeman. That’s Henry Freeman, Doctor of Optometry. In a dual career spanning more than 40 years, Freeman not only built a reputation as a highly respected professional, but also found time to make many contributions to area community and sporting groups. Freeman, who attended old West High and is a 1948 University of Akron graduate, began his football officiating career in 1954 with high school ball. He would work prep games for 12 years, but by 1962 had been tapped to work collegiate in the Missouri Valley Conference. Freeman officiated for 22 years in the MVC, and also worked three years in the Ohio Conference, one in the Metro 6 League and two in the World Football League. Since 1984 he has been assistant supervisor and an observer for the Midwestern Independent Collegiate Football Officials Association. Freeman has been an officer and career member of several football officials’ organizations, and also has devoted countless hours to such organizations as the University of Akron Varsity ‘A’ Association, Touchdown Club of Greater Akron, Dapper Dan Club of Akron and Akron YMCA.