Monday, August 29, 2011

Vol. 1 No. 1 First selections 1952 and 1953

This blog was created to honor a friend, maybe a better term, would be living legend. I'm talking about Roy Mason, a longtime track and field coach, teacher, raconteur, and now a budding writer who has begun capsulizing past issues of Track and Field News. With that delimiting factor, you can be certain this will be a very faithful yet small group of followers and hopefully contributors.
Roy coached Debbie Heald in the early 1970's. Debbie is still the national high school record holder for the indoor mile (39 years and counting, only Gerry Lindgren's 2 mile record is older), and more spectacularly she defeated the world record holder in the Russia-US dual meet in North Carolina, when she was still in high school.

Roy came upon a collection of T&FN's starting from 1952. He begins there and synopsizes each issue slowly moving into the future. Some of the issues are missing, so don't expect this to be a complete narrative. If you are over 50 years old, have an interest in the sport, and enjoy reading a witty and insightful commentary of the times you will find this a great remembrance of things past and an analysis of how the sport has evolved over the last 60 years. I will try to throw in some pictures to go along with the articles. If you have comments to send in, you will see them in this blog unless you specifically request that they not be there.
Good reading and good running, if you still can.
George Brose,
Kettering, OH August , 2011

SEPTEMBER 1952

Gaston Reiff sets a WR 8:40.4 in the 2M


Reiff defeating Zatopek in London 5000

Sverre Strandi of Norway becomes the first 200’ hammer thrower with 200-11

OCTOBER 1952

Emil Zatopek breaks the 30K record by 3 ½ minutes with 1:35.23.8. (Had he been able to continue at that pace for another 12,195 meters he would have run a 2:14:11 marathon.) He also has the fastest 5 and 10K times, 14:06.4 and 29:17.0

The triple jump is the hop, step and jump

The recently departed Ollie Matson has the seventh fastest 400, 46.6n.  Ollie would go on to fame as an enduring running back in the NFL.

Track guys were “thinclads”

The top 1500 time was 3:43.0 by Werner Lueg of Germany. Using the conversion of 17 seconds to make a mile, maybe he could have been the first four minute miler. He probably never ran one.

Only six jumpers in the world bettered 6’8”

The 16th best shot put on the world list was…….52-10.

Lengthy features on Harrison Dillard (Baldwin-Wallace gym so small that he could only practice out of the blocks over one hurdle) and Josy Barthel of Luxemborg (won 26 of 27 races between 800 and 2000 – what middle distance runner races 27 times now? – and “lost 22 lbs during the season”).



SEPTEMBER 1953

Three world records: Fortune Gordien, the holder of 16 of the longest 18 discus throws in history nails 194-6, breaking his month old 190-7½. This is described as “history’s greatest track and field achievement” based on the IAAF tables which had it superior to a 3:55.9 mile, 27 foot broad jump and a seven foot high jump. All this at an all comers meet in Pasadena….

Yuriy Litytev of the USSR takes down Glenn Hardin’s WR of 50.6 set in 1934 with a 50.4 in a dual meet with Hungary….

Andun Boysen runs 1000 meters in 2:20.4 beating Mal Whitfield’s 2:20.8 set earlier in the summer. Had he been able to continue at that pace for another 500 meters, he would have run a 3:30.6 1500. But then that’s just crazy talk.

The top milers are some guys named Bannister, Santee and Landy with marks of 4:02.0, 4:02.4 and 4:02.8

Walter Davis, the Olympic champion and world record holder at 6-11 5/8, a height 1¾” better than anyone else this year, retires from the sport by signing a professional basketball contract with the Philadelphia Warriors.

As this particular issue has the autograph of Paul David Kamanski in the upper right hand corner, I’ll take a moment to explain his significance, both to the sport and to the state of Ohio. Dave was the coach at Bellflower High 15 years before I was. It was he who told me where the old copies of T&FNews were stored in an attic storeroom above the coaches’ office. He coached my lifelong friend, Buddy Cox. When I coached at Bellflower, Dave was just down the road at Cerritos College where he coached track and XC. Dave was a personable guy, a man’s man, a guy who always had time to talk. When Cerritos was installing a new all weather track, Dave asked if he could bring is new transfer sprinter over to work out on our track. It was Houston McTear who had burned a few bridges behind him. The guy didn’t last long at Cerritos which I think was his last stop. Something about attending classes.


Not that class attendance was a major obstacle for Dave. Eric and I had a kid who had super potential on the track, but not in the classroom. He had run 52.0 without training, but dropped out to take a $3/hr. janitorial job his senior year. Dave got him enrolled at Cerritos and assured me grades would not be a problem, “He’ll be taking 10 credits of Kamanski” – volleyball, wrestling, handball, principles of officiating. The kid enrolled each spring and ran 51+ for the intermediates and 47.0 on a relay leg.

Here is the Ohio connection. Dave was best known for being one of the top referees in D-1 football. It was common to see him doing PAC-10 games most weekends. He was also the referee for four Rose Bowl games. (One of our rituals was asking him what time it was. “Well, let me check.” Elaborate extension of his arm. “I see by MY ROSE BOWL WATCH that it is 4:25.”)

Dave was the referee for the 1980 Rose Bowl in which Charles White leaped into the end zone to score the winning touchdown on fourth down with less than a minute to play, giving SC a 17-16 win over the Buckeyes and plunging the state of Ohio into mourning. Unfortunately the cover of the following week’s SI showed White crossing the goal line without the ball. Oops! When asked about this, Dave had a stock answer, “The camera lied”.




                                                         Gaston Reiff   Belgium


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