New Wall of Fame honors standout student-athletes
It has been nearly 45 years since Jeff Doppelt ’73, a former standout on Bryant’s baseball team, slugged the program’s first home run at the Smithfield campus. He reflected on this signature moment as though he just finished rounding the bases.
“The first homer was really special because I always wanted to be a Major League Baseball player,” said Doppelt, who, as a senior, led the Bulldogs in batting average, slugging percentage, and extra-base hits, “This was as close as I was ever going to get, hitting a home run in a college game, and getting my picture in the Providence Journal.”
"We were the building blocks ... but we didn’t know it at the time."
Perhaps the only thing that could top that moment occurred Feb. 11 when Doppelt joined 20 fellow Bryant Athletics Hall of Famers to mark the unveiling of the University’s new Wall of Fame, a project three years in the making that was made possible by Doppelt’s support.
More than 100 members - and one team
The touchscreen and interactive multimedia display, located in the Mike ’67 and Karen Fisher Lobby of the Chace Wellness Center, commemorates the accomplishments of the more than 100 members – and one team – inducted into Bryant’s Athletics Hall of Fame since its founding in 1987.
“For nearly 30 years, Bryant’s Athletics Hall of Fame never truly had a home, a place dedicated to honoring those outstanding individuals who helped build Bryant athletics into the Division I program that it is today,” said Bill Smith, director of athletics. “Thanks to the vision and the generosity of Jeff, the Hall of Fame has a place to call home. Without his generosity this would not be possible.”
A longtime athletics supporter, Doppelt helped arrange the men’s basketball team’s matchups the last two years with Gonzaga, the current No. 1 ranked team in the country.
“I have been fortunate to be able to give back to Bryant, and this is a great honor,” he said.
Doppelt, now senior vice president of investments at Merrill Lynch, said Bryant taught him to challenge conventional thinking and to come up with new solutions, the same mentality that resulted in the development of the Wall of Fame. It even features an animated Tupper the Bulldog created by the team of Chris Slavik, Ruben Nevarez, and Kaveh Ruintan working under the guidance of Eric Meier, Bryant's Director of Design and Web Development.
"We were the building blocks"
Also honored during the Feb. 11 basketball doubleheader with Saint Francis (Brooklyn) – both wins by the Bulldogs – was the 1966-67 men’s basketball squad that is the only complete team honored in the Hall of Fame. That group posted a 22-0 regular season record and is credited for laying the foundation for Bryant’s move to Division II in 1977.
“We were the building blocks, as President Machtley said, but we didn’t know it at the time,” said Maurice “Mo” Clare ’66, who joined the Athletics Department after graduating before going into the automobile business. “That team really was like a family. We played as a team, and we lived as a team. When I see the Patriots today, they are a team. We were a team.”