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–February 27

by Walt Murphy’s News and Results Service (WaltMurphy44@gmail.com), used with permission

1926—Lee Barnes set an American Outdoor Record of 13-5  1/8 (4.09m) in Los Angeles. Barnes was only 17 when he won the gold medal two years earlier at the 1924 Olympics. He later became a stunt double for actor Buster Keaton.

He was a member of the inaugural class of athletes inducted into the National H.S. Track & Field Hall of Fame in 2018.




Pole vault mania, 1928, Sabine Carr and Lee Barnes and Wayde Edwards, courtesy of #PoleVaultPower(posted on X)


1941–Jumping in an exhibition in Eugene, Oregon,  Les Steers, a charter member of the National Hall of Fame, became the first man in history to clear 7-feet in the high jump (7-1/2[2.15]). It would take 15 years before Charlie Dumas got the first official 7-footer in 1956.

1970–The AAU Championships at NY’s Madison Square Garden was the setting for one of the great indoor battles of all time, as Martin McGrady and Lee Evans hooked up once again at 600 yards. Told by coach Brooks Johnson to run the race as if it was only a 1/4-mile long and then hang on for dear life, McGrady did just that, passing 440 yards in 48.6, as Evans struggled through the turns trying to stay close. Evans, the reigning Olympic champion at 400 meters, was closing at the end, but McGrady hung on to win in 1:07.6 to smash his previous World Record of 1:08.5, which was set on Louisville’s bigger 8-lap track. Evans also got under the old record, clocking 1:08.0 in 2nd place. McGrady’s mark would last for 22-years until Mark Everett ran 1:07.53 at the 1992 Millrose Games.

McGrady wasn’t done for the evening–he came back later in the Championships with a 47.0  split in his 4th race of the day (heats in the 600 and relay) to lead Sports International to victory in the Mile Relay (3:14.0). Playing supporting roles in McGrady’s big show were two athletes who went on to become long-time college coaches (now retired). Mark Young (Yale)  ran a 48.4 split on the winning relay and Pete Schuder (Columbia, Boston University) finished 3rd in the 600 (1:10.6).

The Garden had long been the site of many fights, both in hockey and in boxing, and almost got one at the end of the Men’s Mile. Marty Liquori, upset at Henryk Szordykowski’s attempt to cut in on the last lap, crossed the line in first place, then turned around to shake a fist at his Polish rival. That was the end of it, but Liquori then had to withstand a possible disqualification for pushing Szordykowski when he tried to cut in. Referee Stan Wright ruled in Liquori’s favor, saying he was just trying to protect his rightful position on the track.

For the 2nd year in a row, Norm Tate won both the Long Jump and Triple Jump.

NY Times Coverage

Sports Illustrated Vaulthttp://www.si.com/vault/1970/03/09/554134/he-knows-how-to-throw-his-weight-around


1971–Once upon a time, the flat 220-yard Tartan track at the University of Delaware was the venue of choice for relay teams that wanted to run fast. Such was the case on this day when the University of Pittsburgh, with Jerry Richey running a 3:59.7 anchor mile, ran 9:39.7 (for yards) to break William & Mary’s year-old American Indoor Record of 9:42.6, which had been set on the same track the previous year. Preceding Richey were Ken Silay (1:54.5), Smittie Brown (48.2), and Mike Schurko (2:57.3).


A Look Back (subscription required)

1981—Jeff Woodard set an American Indoor Record of 7-7  ¾ (2.33) in the High Jump at the USA/Mobil Indoor Championships at NY’s Madison Square Garden.

            Eamonn Coghlan won the 3-mile in 12:54.80, just missing Emiel Puttemans’ World Indoor Record of 12:54.6.

            Larry Myricks won the Long Jump by two inches over 19-year old Carl Lewis (26-8  ¼ [8.13] to 26-6  ¼ [8.08]).

The meeting marked the beginning of a sponsorship deal with the Mobil Corporation.

NY Times Coverage