Walt Murphy is one of the finest track geeks that I know. Walt does #ThisDayinTrack&FieldHistory, an excellent daily service that provides true geek stories about our sport. You can check out the service for FREE with a free one-month trial subscription! (email: WaltMurphy44@gmail.com ) for the entire daily service. We will post a few historic moments each day, beginning February 1, 2024.

This Day in Track & Field-June 16

(c)Copyright 2024-all rights reserved. It may not be reprinted or retransmitted without permission.

By Walt Murphy’s News and Results Service (wmurphy25@aol.com), used with permission

This Day in Track & Field–June 16  

1909–Jim Thorpe makes his pro baseball pitching debut for the Rocky Mount Railroaders of the Class D Eastern Carolina League with a 4-2 win. It was later learned that Thorpe earned $15-$25 per week during his 2-year stint with the team, leading Olympic officials to strip him of his amateur standing and the gold medals he won in the Pentathlon and Decathlon at the 1912 Games in Sweden. (The medals were eventually returned).  http://www.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/europe/07/09/jim.thorpe/

1923 –Michigan’s DeHart Hubbard (25-2 [7.67]) won the first of his two Long Jump titles at the 3rd NCAA Championships at Stagg Field in Chicago. Hall-of-Famer Hubbard, who helped Michigan win the team title, went on to win the gold medal at the 1924 Olympics.

            Another 1924 gold medalist-to-be was Bowdoin’s Fred Tootell, who won the Hammer with a throw of 175-1 (53.36)

            Penn State had a pair of winners in Alan Helffrich (880- 1:56.5) and Schuyler Enck (Mile-4:27.4). Enck would win the bronze medal in the 800-meters at the 1924 Olympics.


NY Timeshttps://timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesmachine/1923/06/17/105918409.pdf?pdf_redirect=true&ip=0

HOF Bio(Hubbard)https://www.usatf.org/athlete-bios/dehart-hubbard

Tootell (’24 Olympics)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P4YcwYiUVGY

1934—Two World Records were set within 10 minutes of each other at the inaugural Princeton Invitational, held in front of 25,000 cheering fans at Palmer Stadium. It was the beginning of a seven-year stretch for what would become one of the premier meets in the U.S.

Ben Eastman won the 880y in 1:49.8, which also matched the best time for 800 meters (he was timed en route unofficially in 1:49.1). Then Kansas star Glenn Cunningham won the Mile in 4:06.7 (ratified as 4:06.8) to break the previous mark of 4:07.6, which had been set the previous year on this track at the Cornell/Princeton-Oxford/Cambridge meet by New Zealand’s Jack Lovelock. Finishing well behind Cunningham were rivals Bill Bonthron (4:12.5) and Gene Venzke (4:16.0).

Arthur Daley wrote in the NY Times, “Cunningham’s effort was an epic of sheer magnificence. He took the pace of Gene Venzke of Penn, the third starter, for just one lap, and then he was out on his own. Faster and faster, he went until it seemed that human muscle and human sinew would have to crack under the strain.

The Jayhawk flyer has cracked before. He did when Bonthron beat him in the Baxter mile at the New York A.C. Games last winter but today he was no man. He was a machine, a racing robot.”

The meet, which only included 5 events, was created to help raise funds to send members of the Princeton team to England. It would run for another 6 years before being terminated by World War II.

The other winners were Brown’s Ivan Fuqua in the 440y (47.8), Yale’s Wirt Thompson in the Pole Vault (14’), and John Fellows (9:28.9), who beat his NYAC teammate Joe McCluskey by a foot in a slow-paced 2-Mile.

NY Times: https://timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesmachine/1934/06/17/94541930.pdf?pdf_redirect=true&ip=0

WR Progressions



Hall of Fame Bios

Cunningham(1974-Charter Member): (currently unavailable)


1951—Thirteen men who would win medals at the following year’s Olympics in Helsinki, including four future Hall-of-Famers, were in action at the NCAA Championships in Seattle. USC won the team title.

            The HOFers:

USC’s Jack Davis won the 120y-Hurdles in 13.7 and was 3rd in the 220y-Hurdles, a race won by Cornell’s Charlie

Moore (who was also 2nd in the 440y).

            Not all were winners, with USC’s Parry O’Brien finishing 2nd in the Shot Put, and Stanford’s Bob Mathias placing 6th

            in the Shot Put and 2nd in the Discus. A 5th Hall-of-Famer-to-be was NYU’s Larry Ellis, who finished 3rd in the

880y. Ellis made it into the Hall for his coaching success.

            Their Olympic record

            Davis (110-hurdles): silver in 1952 and 1956

            Moore (400-hurdles): gold in 1952

            O’Brien (Shot Put): gold in 1952 and 1956, silver in 1960

            Mathias (Decathlon): had already won  his first gold in 1948, won his 2nd in 1952

         And the others who went on to medal in Helsinki:


            Morgan State’s George Rhoden (400,4×400), a native of Jamaica, won the 200y (20.7) and 440y (46.8)

            Texas A&M’s Walt “Buddy” Davis tied for 2nd in the High Jump


            Texas A&M’s Darrow Hooper beat O’Brien to win the Shot Put.

            Cornell’s Meredith “Flash” Gourdine (Long Jump) was 2nd in the 220y-hurdles and the Long Jump and went on to have

a successful career as an inventor.

            Kansas State’s Thane Baker (100-Meters) was 5th in the 100y and 4th in the 220y.

            Occidental junior Bob McMillen (1500) was 2nd in the Mile.


Auburn’s Jim Dillion won the Discus (167-5 [51.02]).

            USC’s Art Barnard (110m-Hurdles) was 3rd in the 120y-Hurdles.

            4th in the 100y and 7th in the 220y was San Francisco’s Ollie Matson, who would later make it into a different

            Hall of Fame—the NFL!

NY Timeshttps://timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesmachine/1951/06/17/305646532.pdf?pdf_redirect=true&ip=0

Hall of Fame Bios:

Moore(1999)  Davis(2004)  Ellis(1999) Currently unavailable: O’Brien, Mathias

Other Links