Tuesday, January 31, 2017

V 7 N. 7 The First Sub 4 at Hayward Field

Down the Homestretch
Dyrol Burleson and Ernie Cunliffe in Hayward Field's First Sub 4 Minute Mile
Burleson appears to be wearing some of Bill Bowerman's early experimental shoes.

U Oregon Stanford dual meet 1960   (clik here to view film)

A few weeks ago I was looking through the online archives of the U of Oregon's Knight library archives for old  track and field footage.  One of their uploaded to Youtube clips was of Oregon's early sub 4 minute milers including  Jim Grelle, Jim Bailey, Dyrol Burleson, Wade Bell, Keith Foreman, Arnie Kvalheim and others.  Brief clips of each of those men running is found on that particular piece.  In it I was intrigued to find Burleson running the first sub 4 minute mile at Hayward Field.  I had also known a bit about this race, because the man who did all the work to get Burleson to the line under four minutes is one of our regular readers, Ernie Cunliffe, who ran for Stanford and represented the US in the 800 meters at Rome in 1960.  I had known Ernie's sister in Ohio for many years before knowing she was related to Ernie.  When that connection finally came up, I was astounded that I was talking to someone whose brother was a boyhood idol of mine when I was in high school.   Ernie and I met a few years later on a visit Ernie made to Ohio, and we talked for a long time about track and field.  He remembered every split of every race he ran.  And he could fill in details of meets and happenings from that era that few ever knew about.  This was before Once Upon a Time in the Vest was even a dream, but it may well have been a seed that was planted in my brain.

 Ernie has mentioned that Oregon race several times, because it was his best mile (4:00.4), and on today's synthetic tracks no one can dispute that his time would have been under 4:00.  The original clip of the group of Oregon runners was black and white and showed only the backstretch of lap one and the last 50 yards of the race.    I wrote to the library last week asking them if there might be more of the race in their archives.  Elizabeth Peterson was assigned the task to dig it out and she graciously did so and uploaded the film onto Youtube and granted us permission to use it on our blog.  The upside is the film is now available in color.  The downside is that we don't see more of the race.  However there is a bit of footage of Burleson and Ernie after the race.  Ernie looks extremely disappointed, I'm sure because,  one,  he was passed at the end , but also that he was so close to breaking 4 minutes.    The film is almost five minutes long.  It shows how the old dual meets looked.  There were often 'walk ons' competing.  The pole vault on metal poles is looking about 12 or 13 feet by some of the vaulters.  There's a low hurdles race.  Note there are no throwing cages and officals, spectators, and contestants are standing dangerously close to the discus throwers.

     Ms. Peterson also attached a clipping from the Eugene Register Guard  describing the race, and in the story, Burleson was very gracious toward Ernie  for carrying the pace in that race.  This is the link to that story.   Classic Mile by Bob Mullin    If you are clever, you will be able to scroll that front page over to page 7 and get a full run down of the race and the meet which was won by Oregon 87-44.   Both Burleson and Cunliffe were scheduled to run again in the 880, which was a post race concern to both of them, especially after both had run two of the fastest miles in US history.  That was dual meet strategy in those days.  Fortunately both were relieved of that necessity by Bowerman and Jordan.  However Ernie ran a leg in the mile relay.  You can see his exchange on the film clip.  Their splits in the mile were   62, 60, 59, and Burleson 57.6, Cunliffe 59.4 on the last lap.  Third place was Oregon's Norm Lloyd in 4:28.  The box score of all events is also there and a lot more pictures of Burleson and Cunliffe.  Also note that three other track meets are reported in the paper.  This was not uncommon in the 1960s.

Knight Library track archives link   This link will get you into the ballpark on track archives at the library.   You won't find everything you want here, but there is still a nice selection of film from the 60s and 70s and 80s of some of the big meets that have been held at Hayward Field.

Some Comments:

"Well George you certainly did a lot of work to get the extra video of the race, in color no less.   I appreciate it and enjoyed viewing some other bits of the Oregon vs Stanford dual meet.   Oregon seemed to win most of the events although Norman Lloyd won the 880. "   Ernie Cunliffe

"What a treat !  Besides the mile, a lot of field event coverage.......     1960....The year I graduated from HS."    Steve Price,  Piqua, Ohio

"Dear George and Roy.:

I love this story, ....because , like you, George, I got to know Ernie Cunlife on a trip too.

Yours in Ohio and mine in New Zealand, where we roomed together throughout our 2 1/2 week tour.
We even got to go out salmon and trout fishing there and caught a couple of nice fish. Ernie's best race
was probably in the Wanganui world record mile which he and Bruce Tulloch helped set up for Peter.

Mine was a 1:48.5 at Hamilton, in coming second to Snell to his 1:47.6, or so.
My best only only winning effort during the N.Z. trip was also at Wanganui, where I was able to best
the former, NZ record holder,  Gary Philpott and Jim Dupree. in a time of 1:49.2.
I considered these to be good times since my last workout in Oxford Ohio before getting on the plane to
NZ consisted of 24 x 220 in the snow behind Withrow Court where I beat down a path to run the intervals in.

If it hadn't been for Once upon a Time in the vest., I might not have met up with Ernie again.
So,, thank you."

John Bork    CA

  "I love it.   all my track friends down here that know the legend of Hayward field really got a kick out of the 64’ NCAA’s from Hayward field.  It looked like a high school track ( with the grass) that needed a lot of work.  LOL! "  Mike Waters Corvallis , OR

 Good articles from the Eugene Register.  When IU went there for a dual meet in 1979, there were also about 5,500 in the stands, all very knowledgeable T&F people.  It was a great meet going down to the mile relay which Oregon won by a few steps.  At that time they also had articles about the meet in advance and also after the meet which was really nice.  Those other 1960 articles were very good and helpful.  What a big sports section!  This was in 1960 and I noticed the Pirates beat the Braves, beginning their drive toward the Bill Mazeroski World Series.  The Reds were one year away, 1961 NL pennant.
   It is fun to read old papers to get history first hand.  Looking back on current events puts things in a better perspective.     Bill Schnier     Cincinnati, OH

Thanks for the Oregon-Stanford link. Visited Oregon Knight Library during "08 Trials. Great archives.
14-6 pv was excellent with metal pole. Still running 220 low hurdles. 14.2 HH by Edstrom, Ore great mark, as well as 187' discus school record, and 221' jav.
Register Guard had front page article on U. of Oregon fighting discrimination (racial and religious - how timely !). Of course noticed there were no black athletes competing. Tangentally, I attended Florida HS Track and Field Hall of Fame banquet in Daytona Beach Jan. 6 (Gainesville friend Rick Quintana was being recognized for his contributions- announcing, video making, list making, coaching, writing). Host of the weekend was Ron Coleman, U. of Florida track athlete, and first black scholarship athlete at the school and SEC.
Bruce Kritzler     Sea Island, GA?

No comments:

V 9 N. 9 The Peerless Four by Victoria Patterson, a book review

The Peerless Four a novel by Victoria Patterson Counterpoint Berkeley, CA 2013  212 pages The Peerless Four   is a fictiona...