Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Vol. 2 No. 55 Meeting John Bork

Below is a series of emails exchanged between John Bork, George Brose, and Jerry McFadden.

Dear George:

Ernie Cunliffe, who I had the pleasure of rooming with during our January 1962 trip to New Zealand, turned me on to your web site!

That picture of me on your web site at Franklin Field-Philadelphia which the caption underneath saying " Penn Relays" is actually the finish of the 1961 NCAA 880Yd. Championship. My time was 1:48.3. At that time was a  new stadium record.

             John Bork Winning 1961  NCAA Meet in Franklin Field Philadelphia
My mistake calling it Penn Relays earlier


Wow, what a surprise to get an email from one of my boyhood heros.   We never shared a starting line but growing up in southwest Ohio I did get to see you run in the MAC championships in 60  when they were at Bowling Green.  Western Michigan was really a powerhouse in those days with you and Jared Ashmore, Dick  Pond, and a few others I can't remember.  I occasionally see a guy named Barry Binkley who ran at Bowling Green and pr'd in that meet in the mile.  He may have gotten second.  But to whom I don't recall.  I'm pretty sure you took the 880 that day.  I graduated from HS in 1961, so I was a bit behind you.  I went to Oklahoma and ran 4:09 and 1:51 but never went to any big meets other than the relays.   Did you ever run that AAU meet that was held annually in Ft. Wayne, Indiana?  That meet used to draw a lot of the big names in the Midwest, and I think a number of your teammates and perhaps you may have been there.
 My good friend Steve Price (coached the Kettering Striders and then the women's coach at Bowling Green) I think knew you .
George Brose

 Dear George:

Boy do we have some paths crossing along the way.

I grew up in Monroe, Michigan.    Monroe is just 17 miles from Toledo and about 40 miles from Detroit.
What town did you grow up in?

I met Steve Price at Miami of Ohio in 1962 when I started my graduate work there.
I was Steve's freshman cross country and track coach as assistant to Bob Epskamp
Steve interested me to Blues music. We went to a local college hangout together that featured 
a great rythym and blues band "Maurice and the Rockets. (CORRECTION from Steve,  It was Maurice and the Mystics)   Bob Epskamp had first been myHigh school Coach at Monroe H.S. and then our assistant coach at Western Michigan to George Dales.  So, I followed him down to Miami of Ohio. I had the honor of coaching Jack Bacheler, Andy Schramm, Dave Bartell when they were freshman at Miami. in 1963.
I ran cross country for four years at WMU so I was in races with Barry Binkley. At that time we had tremendous depth at WMU and Bowling Green did not so, I think we kind of overwhelmed Barry. He was quite talented

At the1961  MAC Meet which you witnessed  at Bowling Green we swept the 880 Rich Mach 3rd. Dick Greene 2nd. My winning time of 1:50.8 was a MAC and Track record at the time. A couple of weeks later at the Central Collegiate Conference meet I ran under 1:50 for the first time with a1:49.0. Bob Teague had graduated from Kansas but, his teammate Kirk Hagan was 2nd in the race. Charlie Durant of Drake was 3rd.

Yes, I ran in the Ft. Wayne Invitational/AAU Meet in 1961. I won the 880 in about 1:50.0, nipping George Kerr of Jamaica/U of Ill. and Jim Dupree.. I was third to Jim Dupree later that  year at the Nat. AAU Championships,  1:48.5 to 1:48.8 Jerry Siebert nipped me at the tape to keep me off the USA Team.  Coming down the home straight, Geroge Kerr ran me out into the 3rd. lane and hammered me with three big elbows which really  took the sting out of my kick. After I finally got around him I set out after Dupree and was rgaining ground but about 10 yards from the tape, Jerry Siebert blew by me and I had no time to respond. Kerr was fourth and our friend Ernie Cunliffe was fifth. Good Company.

But, I must tell you how Mt. SAC JC Champion and 880 record holder, Ray VanAsten, helped me make the finals. I was tired at the AAU meet on Randalls Island NY after running 3  races at the NCAA Meet. But, luckily the heats were slower at the AAU than at the NCAA's.

In the semi's as we neared the 440 mark I was in the middle of the pack with Wayne Farlow of USC on my inside and Ray Van Asten outside me. Suddenly Farlow decided to make a move, cutting directly in front
on both me and VanAsten. In order to keep from tripping over Farlow, I pushed him forward with both hands
which also pushed me backwards, tired and disheartened I was about to step off the track. But, as Farlow cut in front of Ray VanAsten, Ray, yelled "Farlow, you Fucker!". This caused a ripple of laughter in the crowd and cracked me up too, so, I gained back my desire and finished about fourth to make the final.

2 nights ago, I made contact with Ray Van Asten and told him the story and, thanked him for helping me make the final. Ray was a little taken back by my telling of the words he blurted out. He remembered the incident but not his actual words. That was the only time that Ray and I were in a race together. He went on to U of Oregon after Mt. SAC but, told me his career ended in 1964 with a back injury sustained the season before.

So, finding Ray Van Asten after these 51 years to thank him; gave me courage to try and locate
my New Zealand teammate, Ernie Cunliffe and....... then Ernie introduced me to your web site.


More later.

John Bork

That's a great story about Wayne Farlow.  I'll include it in the blog maybe as an 'expletive deleted' if Van Asten doesn't mind.   (Like hell, I will.)

PS, I see that I goofed... Wayne and Warrren Farlow were twins. I slipped
It was in the semi final race with Warren Farlow, not Wayne., oops.
I don't think I ever ran against Wayne. I'm not sure if he was there at NY but, in another heat.
My. brother Dave coached Track and Cross Country at Monroe High School for many years 
70's thru 90's and was Mid West XC National Coach of the year back when.
His most notable runner was Olympian Todd Williams. Dave had about 9 state champions
and one of his team set a state record for the lowest score ever in the Class A XC Championships
of about 19 points, with Todd the winner, Tim Pitcher (Later of U. Tenn.) and Dave's Son Derek
in the top 10. Derek went on to Stanford and now is a corporate Attorney in Cleveland, Ohio.

It is interesting that you ask if I've written a book. which is funny because last week, my friend Tom Trumpler here in Camarillo commented in an em-mail; that I should write my "obituary" or a book. I told Tom yesterday that I'm not sure, I will because only 4 people would probably read it.  I may do it for my kids. Tom is an ardent track nut, who was meet director for the Camarillo H.S. Relay Meet which featured Jordan Hasay as a high schooler.
Back in the day when Max Truex, Bob Schul; and Ernie Cunliffe were stationed at the Oxnard AFB
they used to come over to Camarillo and use the  old. track.

I had a son and twin daughters who ran on the Camarilo H.S. track teams. Kevin was County 100M and 200M Champion one year. 10.88, 22.1 and 48.5 

Got to go.

John Bork

This is the photo of John Bork I was talking about. The front runner is Dale Story of Oregon State, followed by Bork, then myself, during the 4x1 mile relay at Drake in April, 1961.

Western Michigan came into the event totally unheralded, with Oregon State, Missouri, and Iowa considered the favorites. Jerry Bashaw led off for WMU with a 4:19.8, followed by Jerry Ashmore in 4:10, then Bork blew us all away with a 4:07, with Dick Pond anchoring in 4:13.6 - for an American record of 16:50.4. The previous American record was set in 16:52.4 by an American "All Star' team in London in 1952.

Oregon State took 2nd in 17:04.4 with Missouri in 3rd at 17:08.0.  Sorry the photo is a bit overexposed.

Jerry McFadden

John,   just got this from Jerry McFadden,  the third guy in the picture.
George Brose
                                                        Drake Relays April , 1961
                                                          3rd Leg  4x 1 mile  relay
                    Dale Story (Oregon St.), John Bork (Western Michigan)  Jerry McFadden (Missouri)

Dear Jerry and George:

What a wonderful birthday gift you guys have sent me. And, on my actual birthday.  I had no idea that this photo existed..... for over 51 years.   Did a teammate take this photo, Jerry? Or, is it a press photo?

Thanks so much!

John Bork

It was taken by a teammate. We were hoping that that we were going to have a good day as we had ran 17:05 the previous week at the Kansas Relays and thought we could handle the other teams (only Houston had ran faster at that point) but you guys ruined our party! But it has been fun to say we were there when you guys took the American record.    Glad you enjoyed the photo and that it arrived on your birthday. Nicely done, George.
Jerry  McFadden

Thanks Jerry,   that gives it a unique flavor.   Didn't you tell me Rawson (your roommate) got killed in Viet Nam.  I remember Pelster had a had a strange toes out stride but it didn't seem to slow him down at all.  There's a good picture of Rawson in the Drake Relays archive.  I'll see if I can locate it.

Bill Rawson

You have a great memory. Bill was killed in Vietnam as a Marine 2nd Lt. a few months after he graduated from MU. His name is on the Wall in D.C. 


It's nice to be remembered some 51 years later.
Just when I was groveling in the realization that I had become an  * askerisk to track and field lore just as
the " Paavo Nurmi's of another day" were to us back in the 1950's and 1960's. - 
So, thanks for making me feel "remembered"..

John Bork


Anonymous said...

Hi John....I remember you, but maybe you don't remember me...I was with the L.A. Track Club in 1962-mid 1964. I had "Buddy Holly"-type glasses with short black hair.
I talked to Bob Schul about a year ago...he looks good on his web site. Met Bob Seamon and Dennis Carey (from the club) when Tom Rodda passed in 1998 (?).
Anyway, if you want lets stay in touch. Once I get a e-mail from you I'll upload my L.A.T.C. race photo to you.
Richard J. Chavez

JohnAbramson said...

I sure remember you, Richard.

email coming your way.

John Abramson

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