Once Upon a Time in the Vest

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Vol. 3 No. 52 A Track Museum Sans Pareil (Without Equal) and An Example of Amish Life

Continued from previous posting

The third day of Steve, Bill and George's excellent adventure found us aimlessly adrift in Amish country south of Canton, Ohio where preparations were well underway for the annual NFL Hall of Fame induction ceremonies the following week.  We elected to pass on that one. We stormed through the town of Millersburg, where a week earlier a friend, Dr. Sylvia Gleason, an ultra marathoner and former racing cyclist, had broken down on a bike ride from Columbus to Cleveland.  She was rescued by an Amish man on a steel/carbon fiber bike. He whipped out his cell phone and called for help from a friend with a truck.  The guy arrived, speaking low German, put Sylvia's bike in the truck and drove her to   Raber's an Amish bike shop four miles out of town  in the middle of nowhere.  The shop was closed so he called his sister who worked there and she came and opened the shop, got the parts Sylvia needed, and Sylvia left money for the owners and $10 dollars extra for letting her in the shop after hours.  Of note was that in Amish tradition, the shop had no electricity and was lighted by oil lamps that evening.  She saw that there were some very expensive bikes in the shop and was very grateful for the unsollicted help that she received.  The next day she got a phone call from the owner who said she had paid too much and should return to get her $10 and that he had also fixed the broken part of the bike.  When we stopped to see the shop it was closed, being Sunday, but we noted that the place was powered by solar cells, no electric wires running to the building.   Definitely some lessons to be learned about running a small business.  I don't think it's worth trying to teach this type of customer relations to 'corporate America'.

Raber's Bike Shop outside of Millersburg, Ohio

Eventually we arrived in the village of Sunbury, Ohio about 20 miles northeast of Columbus.    Sunbury is the home of Big Walnut High School whose track teams were coached for many years by Don "Red" Edwards.  Don still lives on the small farm where he grew up on the edge of town.  His boyhood home has been converted to a track and field museum containing a large collection of awards, medals, vaulting poles with a spike on the end going back to the pre vaulting box era , photographs, journals, stopwatches, etc., etc., etc.   The house is decorated in the Yellow and Red colors of Big Walnut.  Below are some of the pictures we took inside the 'museum'.
Red Edwards and Bill Schnier looking at a bamboo vaulting pole

Steve and Bill browsing and perusing

Red and Bill with the first issue of Track and Field News

Vol 1  No. 1  Feb. 1948

Cornelius Johnson 1936 Berlin

old track cards

Analog Stopwatches

Brutus Hamilton, Olympic Decathlete , later Cal Berkeley Coach

Charlie Betham  NCAA 880 champion

Publicity photo of Jerry Welbourne and Harry McKnight  Ohio Track Club 1953

Jimmy Meeks  West Coast Hurdler 1930's  

Willie Davenport in a high school race in Ohio

Lower right gold medal won by first Ohio High School Cross Country Champ
Medallian with a C was a participant medal for all athletes taking part in the national scholastic championships held annually at the U. of Chicago.  Last held in 1932  due to the Great Depression.  I found it in an estate sale several years ago and donated it to the museum.

Even some football gear

Red's business card reads

Track and Field Memorabilia

Don Red Edwards
(740) 965-1918

11848 E. St. Rt. 37
Sunbury, OH 43074

Maybe you have some old stuff your children will throw in the trash some day.  If you want to give it a loving home, keep Red in mind.  Or if you want to see a great collection,  call Red and make an appointment to stop in.  

Monday, August 26, 2013

Vol. 3 No. 51 A Country for Old Men- Visiting Les Hegedus - A Rare Photo of Billy Mills

A few months ago we featured a story on Leslie Hegedus, a Hungarian born runner who excelled in cross country and track in the early 1960's at  the historically African American university  Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio.  Les was a three time All American in Cross Country including national collegiate champion and three days later finishing 7th overall in the Division I competition.  He also won the USTFF national cross country meet over 6 miles, beating John Macy.  All this in the space of nine days.

Four weeks ago my two best friends  Bill Schnier, recently retired track coach at U. of Cincinnati and Steve Price, longtime Kettering Striders, Bowling Green State University, and Findlay University coach made a pilgrimage to meet Les Hegedus up in Cleveland along with a few other stops along the way.  The three of us have made a number of summer road trips over the years.  According to an unconfirmed legend, Steve and Bill began their series of travels back in the early 70's with a nocturnal highway beautification program along the road from Middletown, Ohio to Oxford, Ohio, home of Miami University, by cutting down as many advertising billboards as their two-man cross cut saw could consume.  One can only assume that this excursion was fueled by youthful idealism and alcohol.  Results of their efforts were a replacement of the billboards supported by steel posts.

Later Steve and Bill did a road trip to Memphis, New Orleans, and Greenwood, Mississippi, to see where the Devil gave Robert Johnson his extraordinary skill with the blues.  That trip resulted in Steve's first wife changing the locks on the  doors to their home.  In the years since I joined them we've done a bicycle trip through Southern, Indiana, visited the boyhood home of Ken Maynard, veteran cowboy actor in Vevay, IN, and toured the Crooked Road in the west end of Virginia.

Dick Trace pointing out the sights to George and Steve on the way to Kelly's Island in Lake Erie
Our 2013 tour may well be our last, as I'm moving to Vancouver Island in a few weeks.  Our itinerary included visiting an old marathon comrade, Richard Trace, who at 85 began a new phase of his life after his wife, Betty passed away.  Dick packed up and moved from Athens, Ohio to the shores of Lake Erie in Lakeside where his family had had a summer home in the 1920's and 30's.   During the school year  the family stayed in Oakwood, Oh a suburb of Dayton.  Dick was one of the first Dayton area residents to run at Boston in the late 50's.  He  took up running after college, after the army and after, studying in Paris on the G.I. Bill.  He is probably the last living American to talk to Tokyo Rose and General Tojo, as he was a prison guard where they were held after the war.

When we got to Dick's place he told us he had been reading this blog and had a picture of Les Hegedus and Billy Mills hanging in his garage.  He reminded us that in the 1950's Dayton, Ohio had hosted the national AAU meet in 1953 and 1957.  Unfortunately the meet was a minor organzational disaster, with mismarked lanes that caused some of the winners to run significantly shorter distances in the 220 and 440 yard races.  It was never hosted again, but the local Dayton Athletic Club still put on a pretty good Ohio AAU meet each June, and the Quantico Marine's came there several years including Billy Mills.  About 1963 Billy ran the 3 mile and was defeated by Les and Andy Schram, a promising distance runner from Miami U.

We went down into the garage, and sure enough there was the picture as described by Dick.   I photographed the photograph and had an 8x10 made at a local shop to bring to Les.   I had earlier found Les in Whitepages.com and had been talking to him several times over the previous months.  Below is the photo.

You will notice that the picture is now autographed by Billy   "Les, you beat me bad that day.  Billy Mills"
How that came about will be in part two of this story.  Andy Schram is the third runner in the picture.
Another Gem on Dick's Wall ,  Coach Stan Huntsman at Ohio University Talking to Elmore Banton x left and two other runners.  Banton was NCAA XC champion and for many years head coach at Ohio University
After an excursion to Kelly's Island in Lake Erie, we moved on to Cleveland to meet Les.

As mentioned earlier, Les and I had written to each other and talked on the phone but never face to face.
Les and his wife Marge were waiting on the front porch when we arrived and graciously welcomed us into their home in Westlake, outside of Cleveland.  Les, now 75 years old and limited in his running by some health problems, was so happy to meet three  old track coaches who remembered his running feats.  We chatted for an hour or so, then went to lunch and came back to his house.  Five hours passed before we knew it.  We went through Les' scrapbooks and gathered some information about his career , because Bill wants to present him for nomination into the Ohio Track and Field Coaches' Hall of Fame.  He had already been inducted into the NCAA Div. II Hall of Fame in 2012.  Bout time Ohio caught up.

At the peak of his career in 1963 Les was often misidentified as an Austrian or a Hungarian refugee of which he is neither.   His grandparents emigrated to the US after WWI, and his mother was born in Pennsylvania.  However the family moved back to Hungary and Les was born there in 1937.   After the war, his mother was easily able to get permission to come back to the States as she was a citizen by birth.  So in 1947, Les arrived as a twelve-year old not speaking a word of English.  He went through the Cleveland school system also was given his American citizenship.  He is clear to tell you that he was not a refugee.  Later his father was able to join the family after bribing his way out of Hungary.   So he was also not part of the Hungarian revolution in 1956.  After high school Les was first mentored by Julius Penzes a refugee and former member of the Hungarian national team.  He was not allowed to compete for Hungary in the 1956 Olympics because of what was considered unsocialistic sentiments.  He had been ranked seventh in the world at 10,000 meters in 1953.  Julius lived for many years in Oakland, CA, but his home was destroyed in forest fires that descended on the city in the 1990's.   He has since moved to rural Oregon.

In Part 2 of this piece we will talk about a unique track and field museum hidden in the bowels of Central Ohio.
John Macy and Les Hegedus at the USTFF national meet that Les won in 1963 in Columbus, Ohio

Steve Price, Les Hegedus, George Brose, and Bill Schnier
Les , Bill Schnier and Margaret Hegedus

Les and Julius Penzes

Friday, August 23, 2013

Vol. 3 No. 50 Gordon McKenzie R.I.P.

A great tribute to Gordon McKenzie from   Armorytrack.com  and Elliott Denman  July 24, 2013

Ted Corbitt Gordon McKenzie
Black Marathoners

Two-Time Olympian McKenzie Passes

by Elliott Denman — posted on 7/24/2013
Photo caption: Van Cortlandt Park in 1957, Gordon McKenzie is trailing legendary Ted Corbitt and just ahead of John Sterner.

They called Gordon McKenzie "the civil engineer with a fighting heart" when he ran off with his first American title nearly 59 years ago.
As Track & Field News wrote it in November 1954, "McKenzie won the AAU cross country crown in 29:27.5 at hilly Fairmount Park in Philadelphia, taking the lead a mile and a half from home."
Left in their tracks behind him were 1948-52 Olympic steeplechaser Browning Ross (later the founder of the Road Runners Club of America) and 1952 Olympic steeplechase champion Horace Ashenfelter, still the lone American to win the steeple at the Games in its current format.
Gordon McKenzie would fight on and fight on with the best of the best — nationally and internationally — in a brilliant distance running career that spanned the decades.
That "fighting heart" would carry on — in sport and in life — through July 19, 2013.
Great Neck, N.Y. resident McKenzie, age 86, at last reached his life's finish line after a bout of gall bladdertroubles led to a series of further medical complications.
All those laps McKenzie ran in his lifetime of achievement were surely for the best of purposes.
As an undergraduate, he'd circle the cinders of New York University's Ohio Field in the University Heights section of the Bronx in what seemed like an endless journey.
As a post-collegian, one of his tracks of choice was Macombs Dam Park — later to become the Joe Yancey Memorial Track — again in the Bronx, 161 Street at River Avenue, across the street from Yankee Stadium.  And again the lap count seemed endless.
But they were to pay the greatest of dividends. Gordon McKenzie would run his way onto two USA Olympic Teams and much more.
Too few around the sport these days will remember his achievements, which is unfortunate, but some might say that's the way he liked it. The last thing you'd ever expect Gordon McKenzie to do was blow his cover in an outburst of immodesty. Never a full-time runner — as most world-class runners now are — McKenzie instead fit his running life around his job as a City of New York civil engineer, and as a family man.
"He was a very sturdy competitor, an honest competitor, a top-level guy and, most importantly, a very nice person," said Glen Ridge, N.J. resident Ashenfelter. "I'm very saddened to hear this news."
Yet that was the essence of this greatly unsung star of American distance running.
He made his first USA Olympic Team in 1956, running the 10,000 meters at the Melbourne Games, the first Olympics to be held in the Southern Hemisphere.
In those grueling Olympic Trials of 1956, staged in steamy Bakersfield, Calif., New Yorker and NYU alumnus McKenzie — a proud representative of the New York Pioneer Club — ran third in 31:06.8 back of Max Truex,the Indianan at the University of Southern California (30:52.0) and University of Pennsylvania grad Dick Hart(31:06.3).
As a warmup for those Trials, McKenzie lowered the American six-mile record to 29:18.6.
At the Games Down Under, the 10,000 meters was scripted to be a classic duel matching Russia's Vladimir Kuts and Great Britain's Gordon Pirie, but it didn't turn out that way.
Kuts — putting in a series of midrace bursts — would eventually prevail in the Olympic record time of 28:45.6, but Pirie faded to sixth.
Meanwhile, further back, the American trio was duking it out with some of the best of the rest of the world. McKenzie would claim 18th place as top American — his 30:34.3 was close to the USA record — with Hart 21st and Truex a DNF.
By 1960, McKenzie had switched focus from the longest Olympic race on the track to the lone Olympic run on the road.
Up front, this became the classic world-record marathon win by Abebe Bikila, amazingly running the streets of Rome barefoot in 2:15.16.  Boston U. grad Johnny Kelley ran 19th, Villanova alumnus Alex Breckenridge30th and McKenzie 48th.
Later, McKenzie would call this "one of the worst races of my life." Never a major-mileage man, he'd seriously overtrained.
McKenzie had earned his trip to the 1960 Games by leading all American finishers at that spring's Boston Marathon in 2:22:18 (his career-PR, just 1:24 back of winner Paavo Kotila of Finland) and then running second to Johnny "The Younger" Kelley in the Yonkers Marathon five weeks later, 2:20:13 to 2:23:46.
With his consecutive Olympic appearances, McKenzie became one of the few Americans to represent the nation on the track and in the marathon in the Games.
It's a small group that has bridged the gap and includes the likes of Joie Ray, Billy Mills, George Young, Frank Shorter and, in recent years, Meb Keflezighi, Abdi Abdirahman, Dathan Ritzenhein and Dan Browne.
At the 1961 Boston Marathon, McKenzie ran fourth, as second American behind over-all winner Eino Oksanenof Finland.
Named to the 1963 USA Pan American Games team, McKenzie flew off to Sao Paulo,. Brazil where he ran a gallant second in difficult conditions, 2:27:55 to 2:31:17, back of winner Fidel Negrete of Mexico.
The McKenzie family and the running sport - they've always been perfect together.
In an AAU-sponsored track and field tour to England in the early 1950's, McKenzie met Christine Slemon, then an up-and-coming English runner considered one of her nation's most promising.
One thing led to another. Their romance bloomed. They'd marry, come to America and settle in Great Neck.
"We had 59 wonderful years together," said tearful Chris McKenzie. "The time's just flown. I don't know where it's gone."
In her English days, Chris McKenzie had been one of her nation's outstanding women runners and her Selsonia Ladies 3x880 relay team had set a world record.
As a new American, she continued excelling at races of all distances for the New York PAL team and for years the McKenzies were recognized as one of the sport's most renowned running couples.
Chris made some headlines of her own at the 1960 Boston Marathon.
As Boston historian Tom Derderian would write it, "Gordon McKenzie was surprised by his pretty English wife, Christine, who popped out of the crowd to yell encouragement at every point on the course she could get to. In her excitement, she kicked off her shoes and ran alongside her husband in her nylon-stockinged feet for distances as long as a quarter-mile.
"Her uninhibited zeal and ability delighted and impressed reporters in the press bus. The next day's papers carried detailed accounts of her running and grabbing motorcycle, police car, and subway rides to keep uip with her husband."
In Britain, she'd set records from the quarter-mile to the three-mile.
But her own bid to make the USA team at the newly-reinstated 800-meter distance in 1960 fell short, after she'd bowed out in the semifinals of the women's Trials.
The McKenzies would maintain their running lifestyle for years and years. Gordon McKenzie was in apparent excellent shape to the end. He'd maintained his running regime until knee problems set in some five years ago — but then switched to walking and he continued walking up to eight miles daily.
McKenzie was forever proud of his Pioneer Club affiliation. While well known for their exploits over shorter distances, and other branches of the sport, the Pioneers also fielded some of the best distance running teams of their day.
Olympic runners McKenzie, Ted Corbitt and Oscar Moore were Pioneer longer-distance greats and they had such illustrious teammates as Lou White, Rudy Mendez, John Sterner, John Conway, Tom O'Brien, John Connolly, Abe Fornes, Rod McNicholl, Charley Robbins, Al Williams and many more.
But the death of Pioneer teammate and training partner Austin Scott — who collapsed and succumbed to heat stroke while competing in the National AAU six-mile in St. Louis in 1954, a race staged in torrid conditions — was one of the saddest moments of his life in the sport.
Gary Corbitt, son of Ted, is one of the sport's most noted historians, and points out that "Gordon was an outstanding miler, too, before stepping up in distance. He'd run fourth in (a PR) 4:12.9 at the Wanamaker Mile at the 1953 Millrose Games and had always hoped to break four minutes.
"Gordon always had an interest in boxing, too; I guess the roadwork translated into his interest in track.
"He was a real student of the sport and a real stickler for time; sure, he always wanted to win and was often a great front-runner, but he always wanted to do the very best he could do timewise.
"He always wanted to push the pace. That was Gordon."
An active member of the Tri-States Olympians association, McKenzie maintained an active interest in the sport over the years.
Gordon and Chris McKenzie are parents of three — eldest son Adam is the long-time track & cross country coach at Great Neck North High School — and grandparents of seven.
Arrangements are by Fairchild Sons, Inc. Funeral Chapel, 1570 Northern Boulevard, Manhasset, N.Y.  (Phone 516-627-2000).
Visitation is from 2-5 and 7-9 p.m. Friday, August 2.  Burial will be Monday, Aug. 5 at All Saints Cemetery, 855 Middle Neck Road, Great Neck.

Vol. 3 No. 49 Photos from the 1950's

Some great photos from the 1950's, sent by Jerry McFadden  ,  a 4:05 miler from U. of Missouri , 1963.  He has contributed a number of pieces to the blog.  We ran against each other when I was at the U. of Oklahoma.  We both had served in the Peace Corps, he in Morocco, me in Tanzania, both married French women we met overseas.  Two of the athletes  Jerry coached in Morocco knew me when I lived in Quebec.   For thirty years they always asked me if I knew Jerry and where he was.  We finally reconnected two years ago.  George Brose

I have no idea if these old time photos are of any interest to your blog or not but I thought I would send them along. 

2 are of Vladimir Kuts when he set the 5,000 meter world record at 13:46.8 on September 18, 1956 at Belgrade.

Another is of Zatopek during the 10,000 meters at the European Championships at Bern in 1954

2 are of Roger Bannister winning the 1.500 meters at the European Championships at Bern in 1954

Another of Alain Mimoun in front of Becket in the 3 mile in the France vs. GB at White City in August, 1951 in 14.11.4 

Finally, a photo of a "young" Michel Jazy defeating  Michel Bernard at the French National Championships in August 1956.

All of these were taken from copies of  the magazine Le Reflet du Sport  that I found at the old booksellers along the river Seine in Paris.

Hope all is going well.

Roger Bannister


Michel Jazy leading Michel Bernard

Vladimir Kuts


Mimoun, note the low cut shoes


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Vol. 3 No. 48 A Tribute to the Coach- Darryl Taylor

I received this letter today from one of Darryl Taylor's former runners.  A testimony to someone who gave his time, energy, and talent to many, many others.   Congratulations ,  Darryl.

Hi George!

My name is Mark Field. Every once in a while I'll make an effort to look up someone who influenced my life. Today I decided to look up my old high school track coach, Darryl Taylor. Coach Taylor was my track & field coach from 1964 to 1968 & cross country coach for the first three years (I let some friends talk me into wrestling my senior year, to my regret) at Rancho Alamitos High School in Garden Grove, CA. What was so great about coach Taylor was that he never got down on you. He was always positive, always expecting greater & greater results out of us. The coach was a gifted runner himself. He ran mostly 880 yds & lots of relays while at Long Beach State. During cross country season, he ran ALL of our workouts with us. And we DID work out. If memory serves me, on Monday, Wednesday & Friday it was either sprint drills on the football field for an hour, 220yd drills (25 times half way around opposing girls softball backstops, usually at 27 seconds pace, with a diagonal jog in between), or various middle distance drills. Then Tuesday & Thursday it was distance running (usually between 10-15 mi at varying pacing & occasional rests when running the longer distances). Then we usually met up somewhere on Saturday to run. Sometimes we would run in the sand & water in Huntington Beach, along the railroad tracks from our school to rival Santiago High School & then back about 13 miles, in the hills of Irvine Park for about 3 mi or sometimes around the cross country course at Long Beach State. Oh yeah. Coach Taylor also got a lot of us guys to join the 49er Track Club that he belonged to. It was VERY cool because sometimes there would be meetings of club members & other track stars & we were allowed to attend. I can remember meeting great athletes like Ralph Boston, Adolph Plummer, Mike Larrabee & Ollan Cassel.  With coach Taylor encouraging me, in 3 years I went from running two miles in about 13 min to nearly breaking 10 min. And I was only running cross country for the conditioning for track & field later in the school year. We did have a few good runners who pushed coach Taylor in the workouts. My first two years it was Roger Seymour. My junior year it was Tom Baird. Tom was airless better than Roger S I recall. He ran around about a 4:18 mile I think & around 9:20 for two miles. Don was always trying to beat the coach. It was all great fun, even through all the sweat. My best times at Rancho Alamitos High School were in cross country & track. i had a lot of good friends. Sid Williams was my nest track buddy. he was REALLY talented. He was very fast but best of all he could JUMP! He long jumped about 23' 5" as a junior & he was a little guy like me. I remember he blew his knee out fooling around one day at Long Beach State. He wasn't warmed up & he tried to triple jump & his knee gave out. I think if that hadn't happened he probably would have gone 24' or better in the long jump. Sadly, the summer after we graduated, we were going to go hunting as I had gotten a shot gun for a graduation present. I can't remember why but I couldn't go. Richard Hibbs, a great hurdler who went to Rancho his freshman year & then Pacifica, took his corvette convertible & Sid rode with him. I heard there were a bunch of other guys in other cars going. On the way up some winding road Richard lost control & rolled his corvette. Sid was thrown out & the car rolled over him, killing him instantly. I've never cried harder in my whole life. Sid was the best buddy a guy could ever want & I'll never ever forget him.  On a more positive note, my funniest memory with coach Taylor happened during the first week of my freshman year in track. I was primarily a high jumper, having to learn the straddle roll instead of the scissors style. Coach Taylor had a policy. Freshmen were NOT allowed to pole vault. NO EXCEPTIONS! Unbeknownst to coach Taylor, some friends & I had made a crude crossbar setup in my backyard the summer before I started high school & I was clearing about 9 1/2 feet using a skinny rigid bamboo pole with no box to plant the pole in & without a landing pit! I had to land on my feet on the grass. I think it was maybe the second week of track practice. I saw that the pole vault bar was set at about 10 feet. No one was around the pit or the runway. I saw some poles just lying there & coach Taylor looked like he was occupied with some other guys throwing the shot or something on the other side of the field. So I ran over, picked up a pole, guessed at where to hold the pole & where to start my run. Off I went! Just as I'm about to plant my pole, I hear this loud NOOOO!!! It was the coach but I was too far into the jump to stop. So up I went. I think I cleared the bar by at least a foot. So the coach runs over, looks at me, then up at the bar & then says "well I guess you're a pole vaulter". It was too funny! Unfortunately, I never was able to really excel at vaulting. For one thing, I was a little guy at only 5'6" & 130 lbs. For another, the school budget was limited and the few vaulting poles we had were for the varsity guys weighing 160-180 lbs. As hard as I tried, I could not get any of the poles to bend. The fact that they were fiberglass meant nothing. I would have gone the same height with a bamboo pole or an aluminum one. And the last obstacle was the landing pit. Oh it WAS better than landing on my grass but not by much. Our landing pit was sawdust, just like our high jump pit. So I still had to land on my feet. My highest vault was about 12'. With a lighter weight pole that I could bend & a foam landing pit, who knows what I might have accomplished. As for my high jumping, the Fosbury Flop came along too late for me & I couldn't have utilized it anyway until the sawdust was replaced with foam. So, at 5'6", I managed to clear 5'10". I'm thinking maybe 5 or 6 more inches with the new style & a foam pit. Still, coach Taylor was very proud of me & all of the other guys who gave it their all. That's all coach Taylor ever expected from us. To give it our very best. He used to give out coupons for a burger, fries & a drink at McDonalds for anyone who placed in a meet. Of course, in the mid sixties, that was worth about 45 cents. My dad was a mean alcoholic who never once attended any high school competition I was ever entered in but I didn't let that get me down because I had coach Taylor to instill in me a positive attitude about hard work & about life. For that, I am eternally grateful to him. The last time I saw coach Taylor was at the Mt. SAC Relays around 1974 or 75. I had just sat down on the bleachers. All of a sudden, I hear this voice that I know from somewhere. I turned around & there he was, coach Taylor, sitting directly behind me. Sitting next to him was Mr. Callard the varsity football coach & my former math teacher for algebra, geometry & trig. On the other side of the coach was Mr. Tracy Strong, my former principal. It was quite a reunion, to say the least. I don't think I ever enjoyed  track meet more than I did that day and that's saying a lot because I went to six days of track & field at the 84' Olympics in Los Angeles. Seeing coach Taylor once more was like seeing my grandparents back from the dead. I see that he continued to coach at Rancho Alamitos until 2004 & then couldn't stay away & came back for some more. That doesn't surprise me in the least. Coach LOVED track & field & running & he loved coaching kids. The pamphlet that coach Taylor puts out doesn't surprise me either. He was always documenting our efforts one way or another.  He also used to give us old copies of the original Track & Field News before it was a real magazine with a cover. I ended up getting a subscription so I could read them all the time. I hope the coach is doing well. I can still hear his laugh. He's one of a kind.


Saturday, August 17, 2013

Vol. 3 No. 47 March, 1964

MARCH 1964
With the nationals behind us we are moving on to the outdoor season, right? Actually, no. There are still indoor meets, lots of them.
On Thursday, Feb. 27 the New York Knights of Columbus meet is held in the Garden and a crowd of 12,602 is there to see Bill Crothers improve his status as co-favorite with Peter Snell in the October Olympic Games 800. The Canadian pharmacist drops down from his usual 1000 yards to 600 and moves to second on the yearly list with a 1:09.7 clocking. The K of C meet loves mile relays; there are four of them. Crothers returns to run in one and brings his East York Track Club from last place to victory by two yards over the New York Pioneer Club with a 47.2 anchor leg.
Indoor word record holder Tom O'Hara hadn't planned on running fast this evening, but the crowd's enthusiasm propels him to a 3:58.5 clocking, the second fastest mile ever run indoors. Although running his PR, Ergas Leps' 4:03.6 leaves him 40 yards in arrears.
Ron Clarke's American tour has been marked by ups and downs. Tonight he suffers his third loss in six races when Bruce Kidd's kick gives him an 8:39.0 to 8:39.2 two mile win. Ron Laris PRs in third at 8:45.6.
Question: How do you win the triple jump on your last attempt without bettering the mark of your opponent? Ira Davis and Chris Mousiades are tied at 50-10 going into the final round. Using the tie breaking rule in which the second best mark determines the winner, Mousiades leads with 50-4½ second best jump before Davis hits 50-8 in the sixth round to snatch the victory.
If you want to see a meet on Feb. 29 you have your choice of four, the All-Eastern Games in Baltimore, the Heptagonal Indoor Championships in Ithica, NY, the Eastern NCAA Regionals in Louisville and the Western NCAA Regionals in Portland.
Wendell Mottley is having a heck of an indoor season. Already he has bettered world records at 440 and 500 yards. Tonight in the Heptagonal Games he is trying to add the 600 to his record collection. The odds are stacked against him. Let us count the ways: the race will be run on a flat track; he will not be allowed to wear spikes; the competition is mediocre and he just ran a trial heat an hour and a half ago. Not to worry, Wendell is up to the task. He cruises through 24.1 and 49.7 splits and now has one lap to run. As we recall from last month's issue, this is where he ran into trouble at the Millrose Games. He split 48.3 in that race, but apparently learned from the experience. This time his pace has left considerable in the tank. He finishes strongly to take George Kerr's WR down a tenth with a 1:09.2 clocking. But wait, the Yale captain is back 90 minutes later to bring the Eli's from 20 yards down in the mile relay to victory with a 46.7 split. If you think Wendell was voted the outstanding athlete of the meet award, you would be right.
The All-Eastern Games is the site of what Hayes Jones says will be his last ever indoor race. He makes his 55th consecutive indoor win a memorable one as he blazes to a 6.8 clocking thereby lowering his 60 yard WR by a tenth. Now on to the outdoor season and the Olympics for the former Eastern Michigan star.
John Thomas also has a pretty good night. He jumps 7-2¾ for the best jump in the world this year and his best mark since 1961.
The Eastern NCAA meet, held in Louisville's Freedom Hall, is the first one ever and it shows. Only 22 schools and 135 athletes are entered. Worse yet, the spectators number only 1200. That doesn't stop the lads from Maryland State from having a good time. They win the meet with 18 points to runner up Penn State's 13. But, wait, it gets better. Two of their mile relay runners have already run the 600, so we can only assume that this is not a flat out world record attempt, but a WR is what they get. The team of Brown (48.5), Morris (47.8), Skinner (48.1) and Rogers (47.3) runs 3:11.7 for the record. Pretty sure this is a 220 yard track.
Portland is the site of the Western NCAA meet. Four thousand and four fans are buoyed by the return of Harry Jerome. After being out of action since suffering a severely torn thigh muscle in 1962, the University of Oregon star demonstrates his readiness to compete at the highest level with a 6.0 60 yard clocking, just a tenth off Bob Hayes' record. Oregon State's Jan Underwood and USC's Bruce Bess tangle at 1000 yards. After a slow 61 second quarter the pace picks up. Underwood follows Bess until the last straight where he blows by to win by six yards in the fastest time of the season, 2:08.5.
Now it is Friday night, March 6 and we are at the Chicago Daily News Relays where there are 18,307 spectators, the largest crowd of the season, most of whom have come to see a local boy break a record. That boy would be a 5'9”, 130 pound redhead who is a student at Loyola of Chicago, Tom O'Hara. He set the world record in the indoor mile, 3:56.6, just 23 days ago and there is no doubt that tonight will see a serious attempt to lower that record.
His determination to take it out hard is evident as he jumps the gun. The crowd and especially the starter have to be praying for a legal start the second time. A collective sigh of relief fills the stadium as the field is away cleanly. O'Hara leads around the first turn before the rabbit, Jim Irons, takes over and leads through 58.1 and 1:58.8. Irons drops away and now O'Hara must hold pace without help. Jim Grelle is right with him so there is no temptation to dawdle. The crowd is with him. When the ¾ mark is reached in 2:59.8, pandemonium reigns. O'Hara has a fierce kick, but Grelle is no slouch. The ex-Oregon star stays close until the final 160 yard lap where O'Hara goes to the afterburners that Grelle – or maybe no one – has. Now it is the local hero against the clock. It is as if the crowd can will him to break the tape in record time. To the relief and joy of all assembled, that is exactly what happens. His 3:56.4 shaves two tenths from his previous mark.
In what has to be one of the most egregious faux pas in recent track history, no other runner receives a time though Grelle's coach, Mihaly Igloi, clocks him in 3:58.9. But wait, it gets worse. O'Hara went through 1500 meters in an unofficial 3:41.6, bettering the world record, but the officials don't have the forethought to time him at that distance. The lack of place timing is not confined to the mile. Only the winner of each event is timed. Second place makes one the first loser and, as such, apparently unworthy of a guy in a tuxedo wasting his time clicking his watch.
Miami's Bob Schul was outkicked by Bruce Kidd in a two mile last month, but today the tables have turned and Schul has the upper hand. He holds off the Canadian phenom, winning by “a slight margin” in 8:48.2 to......well, we will never know.
That isn't to say that Canadian runners go home with no gold medals. Bill Crothers benefits from a rabbit in the 1000 and replaces Jan Underwood as the holder of the season's best mark, 2:07.6. He now holds three of the four fastest times ever run at this distance. “K.C.” Yang, as he is repeatedly called by the announcer, wins the pole vault at 16 feet. This is probably the same guy we know as C.K. Yang.
The second annual United States Track and Field Federation meet is held in conjunction with the 13th annual Milwaukee Journal Games, oddly on a Monday night. John Camien runs an indoor PR with his 4:02.8 mile for the top mark. The best race is the 1000 where Missouri's Robin Lingle leaves Villanova's Tom Sullivan and Oregon State's Jan Underwood well behind, 2:09.1 to 2:10.5 for both. In addition, we have our first George Wood sighting. The So. Illinois strongman puts the shot 60-2 to win by a foot and a half.
The lights of the indoor season are dimming as the Cleveland Knights of Columbus meet on March 14 wraps up the season. An overflow crowd of 10.891 watches John Uelses clear 16-4½ for an American indoor pole vault record. Unfortunately, two of the top attractions are not able to compete. John Thomas has a sprained ankle and Tom O'Hara has aggravated a groin strain. In O'Hara's absence, Jim Grelle breaks O'Hara's meet record with a 4:02.3 mile, excellent considering that it is run on a 12 lap to the mile track. In a season marred by poor officiating, it seems only fitting that Bob Schul is timed in 9:11.3 in winning the two mile. It seems that the guys in the tuxedos had trouble counting and that the Miami star has run 25 laps. What to do? One timer believes that Schul had completed 24 laps at 8:51.2. Seems as good a time as any, so be it. Nearly fifty years later that 8:51.2 is etched in stone.
Running through the rest of the issue in no particular order we find that Willie Crawford of LA Dorsey High has already jumped 24-11. Seems the young man also plays baseball pretty well. Wonder what sport he will choose........The Australian 440 relay team broke Oregon's 40.0 world record with a 39.9 March 15. Wait a minute, the alert among you may be saying, Texas (39.6) Abilene Christian (39.7) and San Jose State (39.7) have run faster than that. Yes, but those were one turn races. The Aussies went all the way around the track.......John Rambo jumped 7-0 last year and has a strong shot at making the Olympic team this year, but basketball has been taking up some of his time. On February 27 the Long Beach State star scores 27 points. The next day he jumps 6-9¾ in the Long Beach Relays, but still has enough left to score 42 points in that evening's game........Why middle distance runners should not be tough guys: wonderfully named Abilene Christian half miler Charlie Christmas is out of action with a broken jaw after a “dormitory argument”........Mal Whitfield has suggested that Negro athletes should boycott the Tokyo Olympics unless they get “first class treatment at home”. In an article in Ebony magazine, the former Olympic champion writes, “It's time for American Negro athletes to join the civil rights fight”.......Occidental discus thrower Bill Neville has thrown 194 feet. His improvement may be the result of a weight gain from 208 to 265 in the last year. He now benches 470. In 1964 no one in track had heard of steroids. He is just a growing boy.......Is there a correlation between representing your country in the Olympics and death? Sure seems to be. In this issue we learn that John Brennan who placed fifth in the 1908 broad jump has died in a Milwaukee nursing home. Patrick Ryan, the gold medalist in the 1920 games hammer, has passed at 81 and Stacy Linden, second in the 1906 1500, has succumbed to a heart attack. Strange, but true...............It is rumored that Jim Grelle is considering the steeplechase for October's Olympics........Speaking of the Olympics, save a spot on the '84 team for Charles Wray, the son of former Oxy star, Larry Wray. The lad has just set an age group record that may not be challenged in his lifetime. Young Charles ran a 440 in 4:18.0 two days before his second birthday. For those of you doing the math at home, yes, the kid was one. Dad says that little Charlie ran the entire distance in the third lane and therefore covered 452 yards. He kept going 20 yards beyond the finish before he could be corralled.
Just peeked at the next issue. Good stuff. Two world records and the comeback of an Olympic champion after a four year layoff. Be watching for the next installment.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Vol. 3 No. 46 Jack Yerman Biography by his son Bruce

I recently became aware that Jack Yerman's son Bruce recently published a book about his father.  Below is the intro to it from Bruce and a website where you can order it online.   If you go to the link you will be able to open a video of Jack running his opening leg on the 4x400 relay at Rome in 1960.
Ernie Cunliffe informed us that Bruce Hamilton Yerman is named after Brutus Hamilton longtime coach at Cal Berkeley.

Dear George,
Thank you for posting this on your site.  I have tried to write something that fits with the blog.  I hope this works.  Let me know.  I’ll be glad to change it.

Your Time Will Come, Jack Yerman and His Incredible Journey to the 1960 Olympics
by Bruce Hamilton Yerman

Available in hardback, paperback, and ePub @ http://bhyerman.wix.com/books

This book was written by his son, is a labor of love, and a good read.   It is the inspiring story of a boy who overcomes adversity to become a world class athlete, who is a true champion in character and on the track. On the journey, readers are reconnected with great athletes of the era: Rink Babka, Don Bragg, Abebe Bakila, Harold Connelly, Dave Davis, Tom Courtney, Glenn Davis, Otis Davis, Dave Epstein, Olga Fikotova, Elias Gilbert, Dee Givens, Rafer Johnson, Johannes Kaiser, Joe Kapp, Carl Kauffman, Manfred Kinder, Tom Murphy, Bill Nieder, Ray Norton,  Wilma Rudolf,  Hans Reske, Jerry Seibert, Ernie Cunliffe,  Eddie Southern, Max Truex, Stan Vickers, Sam Williams, Early Young,  Lt. George Young, and more. Visit the website, see the video, ENJOY, "Like" it, and let us know what you think!

Jack currently resides in Paradise, California with Margo.  Bruce lives in New Zealand, works with schools in the Pacific islands, and runs fast, jumps high, and shoots the basketball with incredible accuracy -- in his dreams. He is married to Sarah and has five great daughters – and some of them can run.

V 11 N. 3 "Quicksilver: The Mercurial Emil Zatopek" by Pat Butcher, a Book Review by Paul O'Shea

When we come across books to review, we know that there is a particular skill set needed to be fair and honest and at the same time literary...