Six Tigers Roar Into Hall of Fame

Summer15_HOF

A Wimbledon champion, an NFL veteran, a pair of Olympians, a beloved baseball coach, and a track and field legend will receive Oxy athletics' highest honor on October 16

Oxy will induct six new members into the Athletics Hall of Fame during its fourth annual induction ceremony on Friday, October 16. The Class of 2015 includes a Wimbledon champion, an NFL veteran, a pair of Olympians, a beloved baseball coach, and a track and field legend.

Established in 2012 in conjunction with the College's 125th anniversary, the Hall of Fame honors outstanding achievement in competition, service, dedication, and commitment to Occidental athletics. This year's sextet will bring the total number of Hall of Famers to 29.

"The accomplishments of this year's inductees are a testament to the College's rich sports history," says athletic director Jaime Hoffman. "It is a true privilege to pay tribute to the legends we will celebrate at Homecoming." 

Details about the dinner ceremony (to be held at Bill Henry Track) will be mailed out soon. For more information, visit oxyathletics.com.

Don Gambril '56 enrolled at Oxy as a sophomore after developing an interest in swimming at East Los Angeles Junior College. After completing his undergraduate studies at Cal State LA, he found his calling as a swimming coach at the college level, with successful stints at Long Beach State (1967-71), Harvard University (1971-73), and most notably the University of Alabama (1973 until his retirement in 1990). He worked with the U.S. Olympic swim team as an assistant coach in 1968, 1972, 1976, and 1980, and served as head coach of the 1984 squad in Los Angeles. His teams won five national titles and 16 league championships, while his Olympic swimmers (a group that includes Mark Spitz, Sharon Stouder, and Gunnar Larsson of Sweden) won 14 gold medals and broke 20 world records. Gambril was an inaugural nominee into the Oxy Aquatics Hall of Fame in 1996, a 1983 inductee into the International Swimming Hall of Fame, and received the USA Swimming Award that same year. 

Dixon Farmer '63 gave up on swimming to concentrate on track after seeing the Olympic Trials in Los Angeles as a teenager in 1956. Good call: The Orinda native won the 440 and 180 low hurdles at the 1959 high school state champion­ships, and two years later became the NCAA 440 hurdles champion as a sophomore at Oxy. A leading figure in U.S. track and field for more than half a century, Farmer remained at Oxy as an assistant track and cross country coach soon after graduating. During his tenure, the Tigers continued their domination in the SCIAC, winning team championships in both sports for seven consecutive years.

Farmer left Oxy for the University of Michigan as head track and cross country coach in 1972. Subsequently, he was successful at every level of competition, winning conference coach of the year honors three times while at San Diego State and at Gustavus Adolphus College, and the USA Track & Field President's Award for service to the sport in 1994. Farmer was working as track and field coordinator for the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista when he was recruited back to Oxy by then-President Ted Mitchell as athletic director in 2000. He retired from the College in 2007 and remains much in demand as a public address announcer at track and field events nationwide.

Sally (Moore) Huss '62 picked up the racket at an early age winning the first of nine U.S. Tennis Association championships in 1956. From 1957 to 1959, she ranked among the top 10 women's players in the United States, and was ranked ninth in the world in 1959. Huss won the Wimbledon junior title in 1958 and reached the women's semifinals the following year. She put the brakes on competitive play at age 21, finished her degree at USC, and joined the Virginia Slims tour in 1974. For more than 25 years, Huss has channeled her energies into writing and illustrating her own books. While most of her books are for children, others draw upon her expertise as a tennis champion, and still others reveal her positive philosophy of life. She lives in Solana Beach.

Gymnast Bill Tom '51 won the elite vault title at the 1949 AAU Championships and became, at age 33, the oldest member of the 1956 U.S. Olympic team that competed in Melbourne. Nicknamed "Dragon," Tom became friends with the Taiwanese Olympians and found himself dealing with deep-seated personal issues of cultural identity. That led to his moving to Taiwan for a while—using a Fulbright award—and establishing the country's first gymnastic team. He served as an instructor at Normal University in Taiwan before accepting a position at Los Angeles Trade-Tech, where he was a physical education instructor and gymnastics coach for more than 30 years. Tom was inducted into the U.S. Gymnastics Hall of Fame as an athlete and coach in 1992. He died in 2012.

Bill Anderson arrived on the Occidental campus as an athletic trainer in the fall of 1924, seven years removed from his playing days as an all-star halfback at the University of Illinois. He coached baseball at Oxy for 30 years, including his work during the 1920s assisting Wilkie Clark, before becoming the Tigers' head coach in 1930. At the freshman and varsity level, he won more championships—baseball, basketball, and football—than any coach in Oxy history. His baseball squads notched 10 titles, with the 1932, '34, '52, and '54 teams going undefeated in league play. He coached the only two pitchers (Dick Sovde '56 and Frank Bennett '54) to throw no-hitters in the same season (1954), and his last four teams (1951-54) won consecutive SCIAC titles. Anderson Field, the Tigers' baseball home since 1950, is named in his honor. He died in 1969.

Vance Mueller '86 was a two-sport star at Oxy. In football, he was SCIAC offensive player of the year in 1984 and 1985, a first-team All-SCIAC selection all four years, and three-time team MVP. A fourth-round draft choice of the Los Angeles Raiders, Mueller played in 73 games over a five-year career in the NFL. In track and field, he was an NCAA champion in the long jump with a best of 24'9½" and also ran a leg on an NCAA-champion 400-meter relay team. He is a member of the Occidental track and field and football halls of fame. His son, Shay, is a senior kinesiology major and a standout defensive back for the Oxy football team.