Published June 25, 2021
The Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame announced its newest class of inductees on Wednesday, and the 1958 UB football team will be the second team inducted into the GBSHOF as a Team of Distinction.
The 1958 team will be remembered as much for its dominance on the football field as for its unity off it. Following an 8-1 regular season, the Bulls were honored on “The Ed Sullivan Show” for winning the Lambert Cup — a trophy given to the best small school program in the East. The honor came with an invitation to play Florida State in the Tangerine Bowl — UB’s first bowl invitation. However, the invitation came with one condition: that UB’s two African-American players, Willie Evans and Mike Wilson, not attend the game. Without hesitation, the team unanimously voted not to play the game, refusing to leave their teammates behind. The 1958 team’s unified stance against racism was a great and principled action, inspiring others and dignifying themselves, the university and all of Buffalo in the eyes of the entire nation.
“It’s amazing. It never gets old and it never gets old to do the right thing,” said the team’s quarterback Joe Oliverio. “We are so very proud of our teammates and especially our friends, Willie Evans and Mike Wilson. This is the culmination of a number of honors we have had. We miss our teammates and are thinking of them now.”
Nine members of the team attended the announcement at RiverWorks, including Oliverio, Nate Bliss, Dave Brogran, Ray Paolini, Joe Shifflet, Ray Skaine, Paul Szymendera, Charles Tirone and Richard Vanvalkenburg.
This year marks the 31st class to be inducted into the hall of fame since its inception in 1991 and brings the total membership to 364.
This group joins a rich heritage of native Western New Yorkers, or those who starred in and around the Queen City during their playing days, who are enshrined in the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame. The 2021 class will officially be inducted on Oct. 14 during the annual GBSHOF dinner in the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center.