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Eugene Smith

After eleven consecutive strikes, Gene was on the verge of his second 300 game of the series - an amazing bowling feat. Unfortunately, the perfect game fell by the wayside after the ten pin failed to topple. But, for the 62-year-old bowler, it became part of the 825 series he chalked up that night at the Colonial Village Lanes. In more than 40 years of bowling it marked Gene's first 800-plus series and Beacon Journal sportswriter Tom Gaffney labeled it a "career milestone." Ten years later, at age 72, the outstanding athleticism was evident again - this time on the golf course. Chippewa Country Club was the scene where Gene shot two PGA certified holes-in-one during the 2001 golf season. Golf aces were no stranger to Smith with his first hole-in-one coming in 1968 on the 17th hole at Elms Country Club in Massillon. In nationwide competition in the 2005 Pittsburgh National Senior Games, Smith tied at 19th place in his 75-79 age group. It all began at the age of nine in College Park, Georgia, where Gene worked as a caddy. Since he did not have any clubs, he practiced using a stick and a discarded two iron. After his service in the Army, he moved to Akron, working at General Tire, subsequently returing from Babcock and Wilcox in 1987. Gene gained recognition for both his golf and bowling in the industrial leagues and the local golf courses. His 63 low score at Good Park was tied but not broken over his 40-plus year playing career. The Akron District Golfing Association's refusal of his 1947 membership request because he was an African-American was an obstacle to his golfing career. Yet, Smith gained local, state and regional exposure playing with the Cleveland Chippers, an affiliate of the Negro National Golfers Association. Smith was the first African-American to compete in the Pro-Am prior to the Rubber City Open at Firestone Country Club. He teams with pro Billy Casper and partnered with many sports luminaries throughout his career. Smith conducted golf clinics for kids, a template for the national First Tee program. He served as an assistant golf coach at Buchtel High School and at times unofficial head coach.

Inducted 2016 | Golf, Bowling