In our conversations, the name, Harold Keith, came up several times. Mr. Keith was the sports information director at the university for many years. He was said to have created more All-American football players with his pen than the football coaches did with their clipboards and whistles. When we were freshman at Oklahoma, the track coach of that time, Bill Carroll, (1953 NCAA pole vault champion) would tell some of us that we had been selected to spend a few hours each week in Harold Keith's office doing whatever task was needed. This usually consisted of going through all the Sunday newspapers from around the Big 8 Conference and clipping any news story written about or mentioning Oklahoma University sports teams. The first day in the office I walked in and his secretary told me to go in back and do whatever Mr. Keith needed. I had to step over newspapers and clippings strewn across the floor and immediately began picking them up. Harold polltely told me not to bother, as that was his Monday morning filing system. I was to go through those papers and start clipping. It soon became evident that this was an important room to spend my free time in, because those papers gave me access to information about all the people I would be running against for the next four years. Apart from the monthly issues of Track and Field News everything I needed to know was in that office. This was forty years before the internet, track blogs, Flotrack and instant communication with the rest of the world.
Harold had run track for the Sooners back in the 1920's and modestly mentioned a few things about his career. I believe at that time his name was still on the locker room wall as holder of the 2 mile steeplechase record. He told me about running in the state high school track meet away from the stadium track due to flooding. Instead the meet was run on the north oval of the campus. He never mentioned his other accomplishments, like being the author of 17 books, winner of the Newbury Award in literature, being president of the American Sports Information Directors, being in the Helms Foundation, and certainly not being the Penn Relays steeplechase champion of 1928. When he won that event it was the first time he had even seen a steeplechase setup. It all came about, because his distance medley team had been forgotten about and not brought out to the track by Penn Relays officals in time to start their race. To make up for missing their race, the four Oklahoma runners were allowed to enter the steeplechase, and Harold won it, and two other Sooners got 4th and 5th place.
Special thanks to Pete Brown, Plano, TX and U. of New Mexico without whose knowledge and love of our sport, this story would still be sitting on someone's shelf. GB