Once Upon a Time in the Vest

Friday, March 29, 2019

V 9 N. 14 Celebrating Oscar Moore's 81st Birthday and Noting the Passing of Johnny "Lam" Jones

Two news stories have come in recently, and I've been able to pull it together once again to get them out to all of you.  The first story comes from Gary Corbitt reminding us of Oscar Moore and his wonderful career.   The second story details the passing of Johnny "Lam" Jones, one of the great line of Texas sprinters.

Oscar W.  Moore Jr.
Happy 81st Birthday (March 31) & Congratulations!
2019 National Black Distance Runner Hall of Fame Inductee – March 2, 2019
2019 Road Runners Club of American (RRCA) Hall of Fame Inductee – March 30, 2019

What an honor and privilege it was for me to introduce Oscar Moore in Little Rock for his induction
into the National Black Distance Running Hall of Fame.  Attached I’m pictured with Oscar as he gives his acceptance speech.

I was 10 years old in 1961 when I first started watching Oscar Moore, Pete McArdle, and Gordon
McKenzie dominate the New York running scene.  Seeing Oscar’s running form was akin to watching a dancer gliding majestically across a stage – Speed & Grace.

The Oscar Moore Record:
September 15, 1963 – Oscar Moore defeated Pete McArdle in the NY Metropolitan AAU 20K Championship.  This was perhaps the greatest road race in New York City history.  Oscar led the entire way in a neck and neck battle.  He pulled away in the last lap to win by a mere 11 seconds.  It was McArdle’s first defeat in the New York area in 4 years.  Oscar set 4 course records during this race on the Macombs Dam Course in the Bronx at Yankee Stadium.

October 16, 1964 – Oscar Moore becomes the first African American to represent the U.S. at the Olympic Games for the 5,000 meters.

November 1, 1964 – Oscar Moore sets the 5 mile cross-country record of 24:41 at Van Cortlandt Park.

November 15, 1964 – Oscar Moore set the 6 mile cross-country record of 30:09.9 at Van Cortlandt Park.  The previous mark of 30:34.6 was set by Pete McArdle in 1963.  This was a 6 mile handicap race put on the Road Runners Club: New York Association.

November 30, 1964 – Oscar Moore won the 7th Annual RRC: NY Association 9 Mile cross-country race.  He lowered his Van Cortlandt Park course recorded to 46:19.6.  His 3 mile and 6 mile spits were 15:07 and 30:45.

March 4, 1967 – Tracy Smith sets a world indoor record for 3 miles of 13:16.2 winning over Oscar Moore.  Oscar set the pace for most of the race and recorded a collegiate record of 13:22.2. The race was the AAU National Championship in Oakland, CA.
Oscar Moore recorded victories over these great runners: Jim Ryun, Jim Beatty, Billy Mills, John Lawson, Conrad Nightingale, and Ron Larrieu.  He also had some close races with Gerry Lindgren.

Oscar holds the Southern Illinois University 5,000 meter record both indoors and out.  That’s 50 years holding these school records.

Oscar Moore was track & field and cross-country coach at Glassboro/Rowan University for 22 years 1971 to 1993. His successes as coach were rewarded with his 2009 induction into the U.S. Track & Field and Cross-Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Hall of Fame.

Oscar’s greatest gift is the impact he’s had on people through his years as a coach and his ministry that continues today as an ordained minister in Glassboro, New Jersey.

Gary Corbitt
Curator: Ted Corbitt Archives
Historian: National Black Marathoners Association (NBMA)

Johnny "Lam" Jones (Apr. 4, 1958-Mar. 15, 2019)

Johnny "Lam" Jones, a two sport All-American at the U. of Texas,  passed away March 15, 2019, and left a legacy of  promise, greatness,  and disappointment.  From Lampasas, Texas, he received the nickname "Lam" from U. of Texas football coach Darrell Royal who had two John Jones on his team.  The other Jones from Hamlin, Texas got the nickname  "Ham".    Johnny "Lam" Jones was an outstanding high school sprinter in 1976 making the US Olympic team with times of 9.21 for 100 yards and 10.14 in the metric distance.  He finished sixth in the 100 meters at Montreal and ran the second leg of the gold medal 4x100 team.  He would later donate his gold medal to Special Olympics, an organization he supported.  He died at the age of 60 with bone marrow cancer.  He was was also the MVP of the U. of Texas football team and an All-American in that sport.  

Montreal 1976 4x100   Harvey Glance, Johnny Jones, Millard Hampton, and Steve Riddick

103 yard kick off runback against SMU in 1978

Drafted after his senior year by the New York Jets, he was the first million dollar NFL draftee.  But his career was injury filled and he was out of the game in five years.   He had several legal issues after his NFL days but managed to turn his life around.    For a detailed review of his life and his career, you can read the New York Times obituary by Frank Litsky and William McDonald.
Here is the link to the New York Times obituary on Johnny 'Lam' Jones.

Johnny "Lam" Jones


I well remember Oscar Moore while he wasat S. Illinois.

However, I had completely forgotten how he dominated the Cross Country Scene at Van Cortland Park!

What an outstanding runner and gentleman!

John Bork

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

V 9 N. 13 A Winter's Tale of a Pole Vaulter, a Hurdler, a Love Story, and a Mystery All Rolled into One

March 19, 2019

Last Fall  while driving home from work, I stopped in a favorite second hand store in Parksville, BC on Vancouver Island to look through the used book section hoping I might find something to stimulate my interest.  Nothing bore fruit in the book section, but on the way out I noticed   some old medals resting in a display case, nothing track and field related, but there was a small plaque with some engraving and a runner in a sprint start.  On it was inscribed, "British Games Inter County Athletics Championships 1951".  Further inscription indicated the plaque was "presented by  News of the World".    At the bottom was an embossed logo  CAU.  I asked a clerk to take it out for more careful evaluation.  Nothing more to be seen however,  no name of an individual, no event , and no finishing place.  Still I was intrigued and the price was right,  $8.47 Canadian.  How that price was derived is anyone's guess.  Actually who won the plaque was anyone's guess.  I didn't have a lot of knowledge of British track and field, but I knew a few blokes who do have a good background in the game.  So I made the purchase and brought  it home with me, set it on my desk and contemplated who might have earned that award 68 years ago.

The cover of anodized brass was held onto a Bakelite backing with a single threaded screw and nut. It measured about 5 inches by 6 inches.   Hoping there might be some clue behind the cover, I carefully removed the nut and lifted the plate off the backing.   Was there perhaps a 20  Pound note hidden  or even something more precious?  Sorry to disappoint you, but there was nothing, so I reassembled the two plates and got on my computer to send an email to John Cobley who lives only a few hours away in Sydney.  John is an English gentleman and scholar who might also be described in American vernacular as a track nut.  He writes the running blog  racingpast.ca  as well as a jazz blog and translates Russian poetry.  He came to the US as a runner and attended and ran for Brigham Young University and was for a semester, a teammate of Lasse Viren when Viren also attended BYU.   I also wrote to Tim Johnston who was 8th in the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Marathon and whom I've met through the blog.  All he could say was, "George, you've got a treasure."  He also explained that the All Counties was one of the top three meets each year in England.

Englandatheltics.org explains the current system this way:
County Championships are organised by County Associations across England. You can compete at your County Championships if you were born in that county, have resided there for a specified amount of time or meet other conditions your county allows for.
For many counties, the track and field championships provide opportunities for those athletes wanting to be selected for their county at the England Athletics AAA & UK CAU Senior Champs.

I believe that the system and schedule are much different in modern times, but I noticed that The England Senior UK CAU Championships  are July 27-28 this summer in Manchester, if you happen to be passing through.

I thought John Cobley might be able to give me some ideas about the plaque.  After all an Englishman should know something about the English All Counties Athletics Competition of 1951.  He did know of the All Counties Athletics Championships, informing me that it was one of the early big meets each year in England.  Each county in England is entitled to send one entry per event to that meet.  So it is an important and fairly well contested meeting.  But that's about all that John could tell me about the 1951 event.  After I sent him a picture John decided to forward it to Bob Phillips in France.  Bob is one of the foremost authorities on track and field in the Commonwealth.  He once wrote for the publication Athletics Weekly which is the British equivalent of Track and Field News.

What came back from Bob Phillips was a copy of the meet results from The Times of May 14 and 15, 1951.  The only North Americans who appeared in the meet were Mal Whitfield and Reggie Pearman, neither of whom would have been known to have moved to Canada and carried the plaque across the Atlantic.  But Bob displaying his incredible knowledge of the sport and the athletes went through the results and came up with a name, Geoff Elliott,  one G.M. Elliott from Essex County placed second that day in the pole vault at 12' 6", same as the winner but with more misses.  Bob also knew that Geoff Elliott did indeed move to Canada, and he strongly suspected that the plaque had belonged to Mr. Elliott.  I also learned that "CAU" was the logo for 'Counties Athletics Union' the organizing body.

FYI,  Mal Whitfield won the half mile at the meet in 1:53.7 over De Kroon of the Netherlands in 1:54.1 and Reggie Pearman was 3rd in 1:54.2.  Mal also was 2nd in the quarter mile as they called it to Arthur Wint who ran 47.9.  Oh yes, Whitfield also ran a third race finishing 2nd to Herb McKenley in the 300 yards in 30.3 a British All Comers Record.    Further, one R.G. Bannister won the mile that day in 4:09.2 and C. Chataway took the 2 miles in 9:03.8.  Of note, G. Ruston of Yorkshire County won the Seven Miles Walk in 54 minutes and 18 seconds in a nailbiter over B. Hawkins of Middlesex County who crossed the line 17 seconds later in 54 minutes and 35 seconds.  

 Note from Dennis Kavanaugh :  It appears that Browning Ross, another American,  also ran—the next to the last line in the right hand column.

So what about this Geoff Elliott chap?  Where do I find him or his heirs?  That was the easy part.  I had all of Canada at my door  and Google at my fingertips.   My effort, after about 10 seconds of work, led me to a speech made by Dr. Walter Herzog, founder of the Human Performance Lab at U. of Calgary,  when he was presented with an award for his scholarly work in the field of sport.  Dr. Herzog is on the faculty at the University of Calgary.  In his speech, he mentioned his close professional association with Geoff Elliott, now passed away.   I found Dr. Herzog's address and emailed him about Geoff and the award I had found.  He referred me to an Elliott family friend who again informed me of Geoff's  passing, but he also gave me the postal address of his widow Pamela and a daughter who lives with her.  I wrote them and the daughter's sister, Yvonne Graf contacted me  in late February.  Yvonne told me that she was on a short visit to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island.  I happened to be passing through Nanaimo the very next day and was able to return the plaque to her in person.  Below you see the two of us, with Yvonne holding the long lost plaque.  She couldn't figure out how it got to Parksville, because the family still had boxes full of Geoff's awards from years past.  She thought that perhaps her father had leant some of the awards to a good friend and neighbor, and when that man passed away his family may have disposed of them including our now resurfaced plaque.  That is the only explanation.  

Yvonne was kind enough to share with me and you readers some pictures of her father and mother including a film of Mom running and winning the 80 meter hurdles agains the Czechoslovakian team in that country in 1954.  Both parents competed for England.  Geoff at one time held the British record for the polevault and was also a decathlete.  Pam made it to the semis in the hurdles at Helsinki in 1952.  They met and married and eventually moved to Canada in 1963 where they remained all those years.  See below for more pictures of them and the film of Pam competing

George Brose and Yvonne Graf with the plaque. 

Czechoslovakia vs England Women 1954  clik here for  Link to that meet. In this you will also see Diane Leather, first woman to break 5 minutes for the mile that year winning the 800 meters as well as Pamela Seaborne, Geoff Elliott's future wife, winning the hurdles.

The couple's results in major internationals were as follows:

Pamela Seaborne:  8th overall in Helsinki 80m hurdles.  Eliminated in semis when only six went to finals.

Geoff Elliott:
9th in Decathlon Helsinki 1952,  22nd in PV

1954 Empire/Commonwealth Games Vancouver  1st PV  8th SP
1958 Empire/Commonwealth Games Cardiff  1st PV

Soviet Union vs Czechoslovakia 1954  Slightly off subject but while downloading the England Czechoslovakia women's meet,  I found this meet with a lot of footage of Vladmir Kuts defeating Emil Zatopek in  a 10,000.  Zatopek was past his prime and Kuts was on the way up, shortly to win the 5000 and 10,000 at Melbourne while Zatopek would take a courageous 6th place in the marathon behind his dear friend Alain Mimoun of France.  Also a good sequence of Dana Zatopek throwing the javelin.

 It is so interesting to see pictures of these deceased people when they were young, usually looking so good.  When those pictures were taken they could only view old age and death as a concept rather than a reality.  However, all of us are alive and so are the people you return these plaques to.  Bill Schnier

Monday, March 18, 2019

V9 N. 12 Two Great Photos from the Past

Tom Farrell, John Perry, and Dave Perry 1966

This picture came across our desk recently, thanks to John Perry,
the man in the middle, who also credits Darryl Taylor for sending it to him.  I had run against the Perrys when I was at the U. of Oklahoma.  In 1964 at the Albequerque Invitational indoors, along with Tom Von Ruden and James Metcalf,  they had a break through race on the boards and began dominating the event, eventually setting a world record outdoors.  I was struck by this photo showing the quality of a good cinder track.  No one appears to have put many marks on it yet that day.  The viewer can almost feel those long spikes digging in and holding and projecting the body along with a little bit of cinders kicking up and tickling the follower's  shin bones.   Where, when, what was the result?  Those questions formed in my aging brain.  John was able to answer some of those questions in a second email seen below. George Brose

"I just received a photo that I had never seen before and forwarded it to you OU guys. It was taken it 1967 at Mt Sac (I think). Most of the guys from the Big 8 were running for the 49er Track Club. However, a bunch of guys didn’t live in Los Angeles at that time. Some had new jobs or were finishing school. For example, Mickey Miller lived at Stillwater and Dave Crook lived in Lincoln. Mel Zahn, who ran the club at that time just used his home address or some other athlete’s address for the out of town guys. The AAU was a real stickler for the residence requirement which basically kept track runners who lived anywhere but California (Striders, Santa Monica Track Club and 49’ers),  New York, Houston or Chicago from joining a team and being able to compete." 

"Anyway, the AAU banned the 49’ers from competing as a team but we were still allowed to compete as individuals. At that time, the 49ers (name came from Long Beach State College 49’ers and the original runners were from Long Beach State) had become the dominant club in track and had just won the Indoor AAU where they used to keep team scores. Anyway, we ended up getting kicked out  Of the AAU and Mel Zahn got a lifetime ban for “cheating” on the residence requirements." 

"I don’t even remember this race but I think that MT Sac had to have prelims in some individual races because all of 49’er relay teams were scratched from the meet. I guess that explains why I’m wearing a USA Team uniform (from 1966 Finland Tour) and David’s wearing OSU even though he graduated in 1965." 

"When that photo was taken, David and I were still the two fastest “varsity” 880 runners in Big 8 history with both us us running 1:47.7 at OSU. Ryun was a freshman when he ran his 1:44.9 at the USTFF Meet. Then he ran 1:46 and change for an 800m later on in 1966 at Los Angeles."

"That track looks pretty good, I’m not even making a big hole but a few cinders are flying." 

I didn't find the beer drinking pic John refers to, but I did find this great shot of Gerry Lindgren that Darryl Taylor posted.  Number 109 is John Lawson of U. of Kansas who is one of our readers.  John was NCAA cross country champion in 1965 beating Doug Brown of Montana..  Can someone please identify the Santa Monica runner? 

First time posting..great site...I've been looking thru a couple of old 1965 T & F News that I got laying around and I couldn't find anybody on any list that was running for the SMTC at 5 and 10...looks like Greele on Lindgren's shoulder..and also a question..did Cary Weisiger really run a last 300 in 37 or so at the N.Y 1964 semi trials?..the T & F News issue covering the trials has 3.10.9 for Weisiger at 1200/1320 and finish at 3.46.7...35.8 if meters or 37.0 for yards? slow or fast race, that's moving...thanks...Felix Cabrera- Port Washington, N.Y..fan of the sport since seeing Tom O'Hara break the mile record in Chicago and saddened that he gave it up so soon.
March 18, 2019 at 12:48 PM
Blogger Unknown said...
The photos of the Perry brothers was taken on April 28-1967 during the 9th annual edition of the now venerable MT. SAC RELAYS. There were two heats of the 880 that day and the photo shows the top three finishers of the second heat in their finishing order. Having competed in the first heat, my running log notes that the wind was swirling and gusting throughout the day and T&F News reported gusts of up to 25mph during the running events. In the photo Tom Ferrell is coming off the turn and heading for the finish line where he won in 1:52.8 just ahead of John Perry's 1:53.0 and Dave Perry's 1:53.6. 4th place went to Darnell Mitchell in 1:54.9. In my heat Neville Myton won in 1:52.6 ahead of Dennis Brekow 1:53.0, My third place finish (Darryl Taylor) 1:53.3 and Dan Tague in 4th 1:53.8. This race marked my 9th competition at Mt. SAC, having run every year since the meet's inaugural 1959 opening while representing Excelsior HS, Cerritos College, Long Beach State and the now defunct 49er TC. Comments about the track were correct and when prepared properly the red, crushed brick 440 track was as good as they came back in the day!
March 18, 2019 at 3:46 PM
Blogger Unknown said...
I sent the photo of Gerry Lindgren to him on his 73rd birthday. This image was captured on January 21st in the old Los Angeles Sports Arena. Gerry led throughout this 2-mile competition and trailing closely are Jim Grelle, mostly hidden behind Gerry, Joe Lynch of the Santa Monica AA, and future PCC star John Lawson amd George Young not visible. Grelle kicked past Lindgren for the win in 8:45.0 to Gerry's 8:45.6 and Young's 8:45.8.
March 18, 2019 at 3:57 PM

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

V 9 N. 11 Browning Ross The Father of American Distance Running by Jack Heath reviewed by Thomas Coyne

CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
North Charleston, South Carolina
August 2017

To paraphrase an old saying, SUCCESS HAS MANY FATHERS.  
Browning Ross, a truly great American distance runner, may well have been a father of New Jersey and the
Philadelphia area distance running, but it is just a bit of a stretch to call him THE parent of distance running in the
United States.  The sport goes back too far and there were too many men before and during Ross’s time who ran
in, promoted and encouraged long distance running in this country.
Ross’s own history of running in almost weekly cross country, track or road races from high school days to well
after his Olympic and international competition proves the abundance of distance running sponsored by the
AAU and community enthusiasts.   Heath cites, not all, but enough.
This is not to say that Browning Ross didn’t make major contributions.  Over and above his outstanding personal
running career there was:
His history of hosting, directing and officiating distance races for runners at the elementary, high school, college
and open levels    
His coaching career in running camps, high schools and colleges
His creation and publishing of the Long Distance Log, probably the best of the pre-running magazine publications,
for and about distance running
His role in the creation of the Road Runners Club of America which expanded, far beyond the boundaries set by
the AAU, distance running opportunities for men AND women
Jack Heath’s book is clearly a labor of love and he is to be commended for the research and obvious effort and
affection he put into celebrating the running career of his high school coach and mentor during Heath’s own
coaching career.  While doing so he also reveals an extremely talented runner, a young sailor in a World War, a
kind and caring man with a wicked sense of humor and a loving husband and father. Ross was clearly more than
a coach to Jack Heath. He was a competitor in races; a guiding hand in learning how to lead young men and a
lifelong friend.
His biography of Ross is not, however, a well written book nor an easy one to read.  The author clearly needed a
good copy editor to catch the numerous missing or mis-spelled words and names;  the repetitious reciting of the
same events and reminiscences; the different personal record times and to manage continuity.  Perhaps the
difficulty lies in the abundant quoted articles and personal remembrances of friends and fellow runners. At times
one can’t be sure who is actually speaking, the author or someone else.  An editor with another set of eyes
would have added immensely to the quality and depth of the research.

However, old time distance runners will be happy to find in this volume familiar names, some long since forgotten,
of men who contributed to the growth of American distance running at the local level when fields were small and
races, especially in the Mid-West, were not as readily available as on the coasts.  Such men were runners, race
organizers, chroniclers and, almost always, volunteers because of love of the sport.
In honoring Browning Ross, especially, for his gifts to American distance running of the Long Distance Log and the RRCA, Heath is spot on.  Speaking personally, I read the Long Distance Log avidly and ordered my first pair of Tigers through an ad for Blue Ribbon Sports in the LDL.  In later years, as editor of the RRCA Footnotes, I was able to witness, first hand, the growth of distance running clubs through the hard work of Ross’s successor presidents and their fellow regional officers.    
Jack Heath has produced, warts and all, a heartfelt testimonial to one of the men who loved our sport, competed at the highest levels and contributed to its continuing legacy.
Tom Coyne
March 6, 2019


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...