Player Reunion to Highlight Goodyear Wingfoots 100th Anniversary

Player Reunion to Highlight Goodyear Wingfoots 100th Anniversary

PR Newswire

AKRON, Ohio, Dec. 11, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- The 100th anniversary of The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company's (NASDAQ: GT) historic roots in competitive basketball is being celebrated with a reunion of Akron Goodyear Wingfoots basketball players in Akron, Thursday and Friday, April 11-12, 2019. 

The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, Akron, Ohio, USA. (PRNewsFoto/Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company)

Goodyear began its sponsorship of the Wingfoots in 1918 when it organized an industrial team to test rubber in the soles of athletic shoes worn by the players. The Wingfoots competed over the next three decades before joining the semi-professional National Industrial Basketball League (NIBL) for its inaugural season in 1947. The league reorganized into the National AAU Basketball League (NABL) in 1961 before dissolving in 1970. Goodyear fielded a Wingfoots team through the 1969-70 season, winning its first national AAU title in 1964.

"The purpose of the reunion is to bring together as many former players as possible to honor rich tradition and legacy of the Goodyear Wingfoots," said Ed McKee, a Wingfoots center who played in 1968 and 1969 and is spearheading the reunion effort.  

McKee estimates that nearly 275 players from more than 110 colleges and universities proudly wore the Goodyear blue and gold at the Goodyear Gym in Akron. To date, McKee has established contact with more than 60 players in 27 states, including 15 in Ohio. Thus far, all identified alumni competed for Wingfoot teams between 1950 and 1970. Acknowledging that this first reunion also may be the last for many former teammates, McKee is eager to contact as many Wingfoots alumni as possible. A full program of reunion events is still being finalized.

"For more than 50 years, the Wingfoots basketball team embodied the spirit of excellence, leadership, teamwork and camaraderie," said McKee. "It helped Goodyear become a leader in promoting work readiness skills and identified future company leaders in management, production and all phases of its workforce."

Former Goodyear Wingfoot players or their family members who have not yet been reached are asked to contact McKee at edmckee67@gmail.com or by phone, 202-251-6386.

Wingfoots History

Today's gold standard of professional basketball is the National Basketball Association, better known as the NBA. The league is an outgrowth of the National Basketball League (NBL) and Basketball Association of America (BAA), which merged in 1946 to become the NBA.

But before, during and after those leagues, there was another rough-and-tumble, blue-collar, 'almost pro' league representing many hardworking industrial cities. The Akron Goodyear Wingfoots were a staple of the National Industrial Basketball League, which also included such teams as the Peoria Caterpillars, Phillips 66 Oilers and the Chicago-Denver Truckers. The Wingfoots also played in the NBL and won that league's championship in 1937-38.

Notable Goodyear Wingfoots ballplayers include Larry Brown, who played on the gold-medal-winning 1964 U.S. Olympic basketball team before embarking on a Hall-of-Fame playing and coaching career that has spanned more than 50 years. 

Other distinguished alumni include Olympic gold medalists Adrian Smith (1960), Dick Davies and Pete McCaffrey (1964) and Cal Fowler and Jim King (1968). Charlie Slack (1960) and Tom Black (1968) were Olympic alternates. In addition, the Wingfoots' long-time coach, Hank Vaughn, served as an assistant coach for the gold-medal-winning U.S. Olympic teams in 1964 and 1968. Goodyear's 1964 and 1967 teams won the prestigious National AAU Tournament.

 

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SOURCE The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company

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