Once Upon a Time in the Vest

Monday, January 12, 2015

V 5 N. 2 Jim Allen No. 2 in the 400IH 1963

This  story is a great example  of how this blog works.  Occasionally people contact us completely out of the blue with interesting stories.   This is one of the best unsollicited pieces we've ever received.  It's about Jim Allen and his son Jeff.   I will be the first to admit that I didn't remember Jim even though we are contemporaries.  But I've had a great time getting acquainted with him and am delighted to know such an enjoyable person.  Jim's career was very short due to an injury, and  I have to feel that is why many of you may also not remember him.  But his short lived appearance   on the international track and field scene led to a No. 2 world ranking in the intermediate hurdles at 50.1 sec. in 1963.    Ferdinand Haas of Germany ran a 49.8 later in the season, but Jim had beaten him in their only head to head meeting, giving Jim the nod in the rankings.

This all came about last Fall when I received an email from Jeff Allen inquiring about his father Jim Allen who ran for Washington State and  the US team on the European tour in 1963.   We had made a brief mention of Jim in an earlier blog posting about the '63 tour.  Jim had been third in the NCAA that year but got second at the AAU meet.  On those teams you had to be one of the two top runners in your event to be on the team, with the exception of the relays.  And one other exception as Jim noted, "By the way.  Burleson, O’Hara and Weisinger were the milers that were selected for the team in ‘63.  Don’t know why three were selected in that one event and only two in the rest."
Jim Allen and son Jeff on the slopes in Whitefish, MT

Jim Allen's story is more than remarkable as he was relatively new to the sport of track and field having come out for the team as a Washington State  freshman to get a physical education credit.  In an earlier posting, this put Jim on the all time OUTV walk on team.   That mythical team that was made up of unrecruited, unscholarshipped athletes who caused coaches to look like they knew what they were doing.  In his junior year Jim got his first scholarship money,  tuition and a $100/month janitor job sweeping out a women's dorm which he might have taken for nothing to be around all those coeds.  He made All American with that scholarship.  Not a bad payoff to the coach.   He said that in those days, a summer job earning $800 for the three month break would make him fat and happy during the school year.

  Jim ran neck and neck all that 1963 season with Rex Cawley of the University of Southern California.  The picture from the German newspaper below shows him leading Cawley in the straight until he was edged with both of them timed in  50.1.   That ranked him No. 2 in the world in 1963.   In 1964 he tore his hamstring going over the first hurdle  NCAA first round  and could not recover in time for the Olympic Trials.   That was the last time he ever ran competitively.  These days he's a skier and occasionally hits his age (73) on the golf course.

A fun story he shared concerned his trip to the AAU nationals in St Louis.  He and Ben Tucker of San Jose State traveled by bus together to St. Louis from the NCAA meet in Albequerque.  After he made the US team and was selected to go to Europe for the Russian, Poland, German, and Great Britain dual meets,  he got on  a bus headed toward his home in Seattle.  I said 'toward' Seattle, because he and the Greyhound parted company.  At Salt Lake City couldn't stand being on the bus any longer, so he got off and  took a taxi to the airport and wrote a check, with insufficient funds  for a plane ticket to Seattle.  He beat the bus by twelve hours and when he got to Seattle, he raced to the bank where his mother worked asking her to cover the balance due on the check, which she did before it bounced.  Yes commerce was a bit different in those days.

We chose to honor Jim with this short memoire of his career, and he has chosen to honor us with some of the pictures that he took in Moscow and the European trip.      These pictures have never been seen out in the public before this writing, so consider yourself privileged to get to see them now. There are 3 future Olympic gold medalists in the photos:  Henry Carr, Rex Cawley, and Bob Hayes, and a silver medalists Paul Drayton and Blaine Lindgren.

Below are programs from the four international dual meets and some programs from the Scandinavian trip

scandinavian programs
First Row  Blaine Lindgren  ,  Rex Cawley,  Jim Allen
2nd Row Paul Drayton (next to the blonde),   Frank Covelli, and Bill Sharpe

Moscow, 1963, Bob Hayes after winning 100 meters. Have the other runners come in yet?

Morgan Groth 800 meters in Moscow

At the hotel,  Frank Covelli, Rex Cawley, Henry Carr, Lester Milburn
Frank Covelli

Payton Jordan, US team coach. When Jim Allen got hurt, he pulled Willie Atterbury in from Norway at the last minute to get important points in the dual meet.

Henry Carr, Arizona State and Ray Saddler, Texas Southern at the practice field in Moscow

High Jumpers Gene Johnson and Paul Stuber

Frank Covelli and Paul Stuber in foreground,  Steve Pauley in background at Moscow stadium a
few days before the meet.
Hannover newspaper report on US German dual run before 75,000 spectators.  The reporter claims that Germans ran exceptionally well, but the Americans won every event except the 10,000m which is indicated in the headline "Only One Win By Peter Kubiki"  Picture shows Jim Allen leading Rex Cawley and Ferdinand Haas down the straight.  The score was 141-82 in favor of the Amis.  Milburn, Williams, Cawley and Carr ran a spectacular 3:02.8 on the 4x400, the Germans 3:03.5.  Covelli threw an unbelievable  PB 80.71 meters breaking the Pole Sidlo's stadium record, Ferdy Haas was third in the 400IH but was timed in a European best for the season, Ludwig Muller ran the race of his life in the steeple only to be outleaned at the tape by Pat Traynor in 8:44.4.   In the lone win in the 10,000,  Jim Keefe and Buddy Edlen were second and third in 29:26.6 and 29:28.4.  Ron Zinn who would die in the Tet Offensive in Viet Nam in 1968 won the 10Km walk in 46:50.8 and Ron Laird was third in 47:26.8. 
Jim Allen just after getting his 50.1 PR in Hannover, Germany

Jim Allen,  Ferdinand Haas ,  Rex Cawley, and Helmut Janz after 400IH race in Hannover  where Allen and Cawley
 were both timed in 50.1, but Cawley got the win.  

Jim Allen in the Stadium in Moscow
Jim had a slight hamstring problem in Moscow and didn't run the meet.  Payton Jordan found Willie Atterbury running in Scandinavia and got him on a plane without a visa and into the meet at the last minute making a clean sweep in the 400IH which was needed to edge the Russians in that meet.  Jim was back in action for the remaining three meets then stayed on and competed in Norway and Sweden winning a 400IH and getting a second to Hayes Jones in the 110HH.
Larry Stuart , left, javelin with  Russian interpreter and  Blaine Lindgren, hurdler

The lads in Whistler, BC
Jim's son Jeff first got in contact with us about his dad.  After interviewing Jeff we learned that Jeff went to Stanford on a football scholarship and with a bad back, walked on to the track team and ran the 400IH in 50.98 and was second in the PAC 10 his junior year.  At the NCAA's in Bloomington IN, he didn't make the finals with a 51.1  Jeff ran the 400 meter leg on Stanford's distance medley relay team that medaled at the NCAA Indoor Championships in both '98 and '99.  (For what it's worth, in '98 they finished behind the Washington State University distance medley relay team that I believe set a new national and/or world indoor record.  Jeff would know for sure). Thus Jeff earned All American status.  So Jim and Jeff are father-son All Americans.   Jeff's best 400 split was 46.1r.  Dad also mentioned Jeff had the 300IH HS record in Washington state.  Another bit of trivia,  Jim's  son-in-law's father and Ralph Boston live next door to each other in Peach Tree City, Georgia, which is near Atlanta.

The Stadium at Moscow
Imagine, twenty years before in 1943, the Germans were approaching the gates of Moscow.

1 comment:

Mickey said...

What a fabulous story ! I enjoyed reading it very much. The photos are great. Regards, Mickey

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