Monday, July 30, 2018

V 8 N. 50 February, 1968

The two Kerry's  Pearce and O'Brien followed by Frank Shorter.
This is not from the race being described below.

When the gun sounds starting the San Diego Invitational 2 mile, the world record is Ron Clarke's 8:28.8. Eight minutes twenty-seven and two-tenths seconds later the record belongs to Kerry Pearce. For Pearce, an Australian sophomore at Texas El Paso, this is an improvement of 16.4 seconds.

The following week in the LA Times meet the dew is off the melon for Pearce. He runs 8:50.4 to finish eighth in a race won easily by George Young in 8:31.8. Any hope of challenging Pearce's record was doomed by a 2:15 half in the middle of the race. Tracy Smith and Kerry O'Brien are second and third in 8:32.6 with Ron Clarke fourth in 8:35.0. 

In the post-race interview, Smith says he thought he was strong enough to win if he had made his move earlier instead of waiting for coach Mihaly Igloi's whistle. Please permit an editorial comment at this point. Igloi was noted for controlling every aspect of his runners' training and racing, but an athlete had to rely on his signal to know when to accelerate? Really? 

Editor's note: The following is not from this issue of T&FNews. It is the result of weeks of work by our crack research department, a project which kept the lights burning on the eighth and ninth floors of the Once Upon a Time in the Vest Building late into the evenings.  (That building is located halfway between Timbuktu and Shangrila ed.)

Friday, February 16 is memorable for it is the 100th running of the New York Athletic Club Invitational, the oldest meet in the country. If that isn't enough, it is the first meet held in the new Madison Square Garden. Indeed it is memorable, but for a different reason, the boycott of Negro competitors and spectators. 

Harry Edwards

San Jose State professor Harry Edwards has organized the boycott and the non-violent picket line outside the arena. There are dozens of others meets. Why this one? Many considerations came together in the selection of the NYAC meet, but significant determining factors are that the New York Athletic Club is lily white – there are no members of color - and it is being held in the largest media market in the US. East coast powerhouse schools Villanova, Georgetown and Manhattan and all the entire Ivy League have withdrawn their teams as have all New York high schools. Edwards states that by choosing to compete or attend the meet or not, Negroes will determine which side of the fence they are on. 

Adding to the list of absentees is the seven-man Russian team that is touring the country. They just competed in the LA Times meet and will stay until the nationals, but they aren't getting involved in this, deciding to stay on the west coast “to train”.
Who is coming? Lennox Miller, a Jamaican, will be there. Larry Livers, the former Villanova hurdler has committed. Texas El Paso coach Wayne Vandenberg says he knows about the boycott but his team, including “six Negro boys”, will be there “to compete, that's all”. Among those “boys” is world indoor long jump record holder Bob Beamon. Hearing this, Edwards replies, “Bobby may be coming up here, but when he sees that picket line you can bet he won't cross it.” 

But what of those world-class Negro athletes who haven't taken a stand, Jim Hines, Ralph Boston and John Thomas? Edwards suggests that it would be imprudent for them to cross the picket line. “Thomas would be very foolish to cross the picket line. There are some brothers in Boston who would be very upset with him. They might not show it that night, but within a week John would regret that decision.” As for Jim Hines, “Hines has said that he wants to play pro football someday. If he runs in this meet, he will never play football for anybody”.

Bill Orwing, the AD at the University of Indiana, having entered African American sprinter Mike Goodrich as a last minute replacement, receives a phone call informing him that if Goodrich crosses the picket line, he will receive “acid in the face'”.

Hines and Boston do not compete. Thomas, an NYAC competitor since 1959, receives three threatening long distance calls and decides discretion is the better part of valor, stating “ I have a wife to think about and a baby on the way”. Livers, who has flown in from Oakland, is confronted at the picket line and decides it would be in his best interest not to cross it.

Miller, being Jamaican, isn't threatened. He wins the 60 in 6.1. Beamon is another matter. He crosses the picket line without problems, but once in the building, realizes the danger that may await. Stating that “there may be a Lee Harvey Oswald out there”, he does his stretching in the locker room. His participation consists of one jump, a 26-3 ½ that wins by over a foot, then returns to the safety of the locker room. We are guessing he passed on the awards ceremony. 
Bob Beamon Indoors 1968

Is the boycott successful? Based on the fact that the meet is usually a sellout, but this time there are 4000 empty seats and the fact that it produces worldwide news, likely so. Stay tuned for more on this in upcoming reports.

Martin McGrady has transferred from Central State University (Ohio) to San Jose State. Because of the transfer, he will be ineligible this season but will be good to go in '69.  No one is more of an enigma than McGrady.  Indoors he is a lock to win the 600. Having won all 16 of his races at this distance, he is money in the bank. On the other hand, what is his distance outdoors, the 440 or 880? He has distinguished himself at neither. Indoors he is a draw. Outdoors so far he has been just another guy.

The US Report on the shot put is headed by Randy Matson at 67-0 ½ and George Woods at 66-11 ¼. Read far enough down and you come to the sad decline of one of the greats and the emergence of a new figure who will give color to the event for the next decade. Parry O'Brien can't walk away from the event he dominated for so long. Unfortunately, he is no longer a factor in major meets and is ranked 13th in the US with a best of 59-3 ¾. At the very end of the list, tied for 24th at 56-11 is Brian Oldfield.
Roy, could this be the Brian Oldfield you are describing?  George
Pretty sure this 
is before his days of wearing tie-dye shirts and speedo shorts and smoking cigarettes between throws. No one ever made a staid event more fun.

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