Walt Murphy is one of the finest track statisticians 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–May 20

(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.

1920—Albert “Whitey” Michelsen set a “World Record” of 2:25:23-4/5 in the Daily News Marathon, with the race being contested entirely inside the brand new Yankee Stadium (115 laps)! Michelson also got credit for records at 15-miles (1:31:21-2/5) and 23-miles


Firing the starter’s pistol in front of 25,000 fans was Argentine heavyweight boxer Luis Firpo, “resplendent in pink haberdashery and Oxford gray suit”.  Firpo would return to the Stadium in 1923 and capture one of his 31 victories. (From the NY Times Archives)

Michelsen would go on to become a 2-time U.S. Olympian in the Marathon, finishing 9th in 1928 and 7th in 1932, and set a World Record of 2:29:21.8 in a traditional marathon in 1925.

(For Subscribers)https://timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesmachine/1923/05/21/105914285.pdf?pdf_redirect=true&ip=0


(Scroll Down)https://www.nyhistory.org/blogs/a-centennial-salute-to-the-daily-news

1949—Fortune Gordien threw 180-8 (55.06) at the Coliseum Relays in Los Angeles to set the first of his five American Records in the Discus. Gordian would set four World Records, win two Olympic medals (bronze, 1948, silver, 1956), won three NCAA and six U.S. titles in the Discus, and be a three-time NCAA scorer in the Shot Put while at Minnesota (5th, 1946, 3rd, 1947, 2nd, 1948). He was inducted into the National Hall of Fame in 1979.

      USC set a World Record of 1:24.0 in the 880-yard relay.

     (George Pasquali, Ron Frazier, Norman Stokes, Mel Patton)


1955—The featured event at the Coliseum Relays in Los Angeles, attended by 56,000 fans, was the Men’s ½-mile, which had one of the greatest fields ever assembled—Mal Whitfield, the 2-time reigning Olympic Champion at 800-meters, Lon Spurrier, the World Record holder in the ½-mile (1:47.5), Tom Courtney, who anchored Fordham to a World Record in the 2-Mile Relay at the previous year’s meet, Pittsburgh’s Arnie Sowell, who had beaten Courtney to win the 1954 NCAA title, San Jose State’s Lang Stanley, the 1953 NCAA Champion, and a relatively unknown Irishman from Villanova-freshman Ron Delany!

Sowell led through the 1st ¼-mile in a slowish 55 seconds, with the rest of the field bunched up behind him. He held off Courtney for a while down the backstretch, only to have his East Coast rival cut to the inside, forcing him into the infield. Sowell quickly recovered but was then bumped by Whitfield, effectively taking him out of contention (he walked across the finish line in 2:00.8).

Courtney went on to win in 1:50.3, followed closely by Delany (1:50.4) and Spurrier (1:50.5), with Stanley (1:51.0) edging past Whitfield (1:51.1) in the homestretch.

Courtney was later disqualified by officials for fouling Sowell, giving the win to Delany. Courtney protested to no avail, saying, “I thought I was far enough ahead”.

Delany (1500) and Courtney (800) would each become Olympic Champions the following year in Melbourne!

(From Track & Field News)