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RIP Bob Hersh

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  • #46
    The birthdate for Twerrell should have been April 1st. ☺️

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    • #47
      Originally posted by Halfmiler2 View Post
      The birthdate for Twerrell should have been April 1st. ☺️
      I thought 29 February was a nice touch

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      • #48
        Originally posted by Halfmiler2 View Post


        Bob did have one signature in his announcing. Once a meet, he would say that a race was in its penultimate lap or we were about to start the penultimate event. Occasionally, it was the ante-penultimate lap or event.
        I could have understood better Bob doing this if he had gone to my alma mater instead of Columbia!

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        • #49
          Great stuff, Bill. I don't suppose Pete let you actually publish it? I didn't realize how good Bart was until reading the bio.
          Typically the competition results were punctuated with "and Bart Twerrell, no fair throw."

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          • #50
            Since this thread is supposed to be about Bob, I can throw in my favorite Bob story. (At least among those that can be repeated here.)

            We were at the Jenner meet in '86 or '87, and Tully and Vigneron are going at it in the vault. Bob was there, but just sitting in the stands with no official position beyond his general role as Commissioner of All Track & Field.
            And they're getting up in the 5.70 range, which was pretty good at the time. Vigneron clears with an obvious Volz - which was still legal at the time, and that clearance ends up winning the event.
            So Tully comes up to the stands furious at what had happened, and he goes complaining to Bob - "can't you do something about it? People will think he was better than me!" (a curious choice of phrase, but it was what it was.)
            And Bob responds (you have to read this to yourself in Bob's voice for it to work) - "Well, Mike, according to the rules of the event, he WAS better than you." Mike gets this exasperated look on his face, shrugs his shoulders, and walks away.

            Another Bob moment I remember fondly was in Rome in '87 during the hammer qualifying. And the big-Q was 76.50. In the morning the stands weren't all that full, so we were sort of scattered around with plenty of space to spread out, and one of the TAFNOT members throws out the question for anyone to answer "What is 76.50 really?" (meaning, presumably, how many feet?" And Bob turns and looks and says "It's 76.50", pronounced with emphasis punctuated on each word as "SEVENTY-SIX-FIFTY" As one who was beginning to be able to think in metric at the time, I thanked him, with a grin.

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            • #51
              For those of you wanting a little history of Bob’s international involvement, here it is:

              In the early 1980s, TAC/USA Executive Director Ollan Cassell was the USA member on the IAAF Council and Yale Coach Bob Giegengack was the USA member on the IAAF Technical Committee.

              Winning the above two positions was a two-step process: winning USA nomination every four years at the Annual Meeting, and then getting elected at the IAAF Congress the next summer at the WC.

              In 1984, Giegengack died and Bob Hersh won a 3-way race over John Chaplin and Helio Rico (both heavy hitters) and became the USA member of the IAAF Technical Committee for the next 15 years.

              The Technical Committee was basically the IAAF rules committee and one key issue of the time was to increase the number of women’s events. In 1980, there were 24 Men’s Olympic events in our sport but only 13 women’s events. Currently, we will finally reach parity with 24 each (plus a coed event) when the women get their second race walk.

              The battle to add women’s events was incremental over decades. The USA was the biggest advocate and Bob was our point man on the technical committee and later the Council.

              In 1996, USATF went into debt because of Atlanta bills and dumped Ollan Cassell at the Annual Meeting. Ollan remained on the IAAF Council until the next vote for USA nomination two years later and Bob Hersh defeated Ollan and Pat Rico (USATF President) and was elected to the Council in 1999. He remained on the Council for 16 years, rising to the level of Senior VP in 2011.

              Key issues of the period included promoting doping control. TAC/USA (as USATF was called until 1992) created the first out-of-competition testing program in the world in 1989 after the Ben Johnson scandal. It pushed for the IAAF and Olympic movement to do the same and WADA and USADA that we have today is the result.

              Bob was our point-person in the beginnings of this. He was also our point-person at the professionalization of the sport after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Up to then, we still had the vestiges of amateurism with TACTRUST etc. from 1981 to 1991 to allow the Russians to control their athletes. After 1991, athletes finally got the freedom they deserved.

              In 2014, USATF President Stephanie Hightower ran against Bob for the USA nomination to the IAAF Council. At the USAT Annual Meeting, Bob won the delegates’ vote 392-70 but it’s Board nevertheless voted 14-1 for Stephanie and she was elected and served on the IAAF Council for the following four years. In 2018, Willie Banks defeated Stephanie by a 2-1 margin and was elected to the Council, and in 2022, Willie defeated Stephanie again and is up for re-election at the WC this summer. By the way, what happened in 2014 led to mistrust by the rank-and-file of the leadership that festered for eight years involving various issues before a compromise was reached in 2022 that has been discussed on another thread.

              After 2014, Bob remained influential in USATF as an elder statesman. His last public appearance was at the 2020 Annual Meeting (virtual because of COVID) when he spoke to the delegates in opposition to the Board’s temporary amendments and in 2021-22, he supported compromise as was finally achieved. He will be sorely missed.
              Last edited by Halfmiler2; 01-21-2023, 06:47 PM.

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              • #52
                Past few days have been rough, Bob's passing happened right before my son had a medical emergency that resulted in a helicopter ride to Seattle, I've spent the past few days scrambling to deal with the logistics. Bob was fighting a brain tumor and my son is also fighting a brain tumor.

                I did get a few words up on Twitter: https://twitter.com/polevaultpower/s...98201084448768

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                • #53
                  Bob was a friend and mentor beginning in the late 1990s as he helped steer the Long Island Association in it's secession from MAC, which was full of corruption. His guidance on so many issues was exactly what was needed and the political will to "suggest" that Pat and Helio Rico let it happen, finally made it a reality. We worked together on many events & projects over the years, but it was the little things like making sure he had another full glass of red wine at all time when he was telling his stories, that I remember most fondly. I learned the ins/outs of announcing from him and that has come in handy when I had to step into that role in emergencies. By far, the best memory was at Millrose when the WPV was going long because Stacy Dragila was jumping so well. All the races had ended and most of MSG had emptied. I suggested to Bob that he invite everyone down to track level and he made it happen, saying that was a genius idea and it was the kind of thing that he would have thought of himself. RIP Bob!

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                  • #54
                    Originally posted by polevaultpower View Post
                    my son is also fighting a brain tumor.
                    Wishing you all the best, Becca. Every time I check on your journal I am amazed at your strength and ability to manage such a difficult road (especially from an island separated from the most important care givers).

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                    • #55
                      Originally posted by Halfmiler2 View Post


                      Bob did have one signature in his announcing. Once a meet, he would say that a race was in its penultimate lap or we were about to start the penultimate event. Occasionally, it was the ante-penultimate lap or event.
                      he once took it to the next step and used preantepenultimate but we quit there

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                      • #56
                        Becca, sorry to hear about your son. You have a special place in the heart of those of us who have followed you since you were a peripatetic pole-vaulter working your way westward and admire your prominence in your event
                        and national track government.

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                        • #57
                          We went to the afternoon shiva at the Hersh’s home this afternoon and there was a good turnout of people, a mix of local friends and T&F people. We got to talk to Louise more than at the funeral. Cora said she finally found someone with more books -especially Track & Field books - than we have. There were on the walls numerous framed posters and pictures from different Olympics, World Championships, Millrose, and other major meets.

                          We did tell Louise how many of the posters on the board extended their sympathies. She did mention that she hoped Eddie was doing well.
                          Last edited by Halfmiler2; 01-23-2023, 04:08 AM.

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                          • #58
                            Originally posted by MJR View Post
                            Bob was a friend and mentor beginning in the late 1990s as he helped steer the Long Island Association in it's secession from MAC, which was full of corruption. His guidance on so many issues was exactly what was needed and the political will to "suggest" that Pat and Helio Rico let it happen, finally made it a reality. We worked together on many events & projects over the years, but it was the little things like making sure he had another full glass of red wine at all time when he was telling his stories, that I remember most fondly. I learned the ins/outs of announcing from him and that has come in handy when I had to step into that role in emergencies. By far, the best memory was at Millrose when the WPV was going long because Stacy Dragila was jumping so well. All the races had ended and most of MSG had emptied. I suggested to Bob that he invite everyone down to track level and he made it happen, saying that was a genius idea and it was the kind of thing that he would have thought of himself. RIP Bob!
                            Sue Polansky (the 1st USATF Long Island President) was at the Shiva and we reminisced about the Long Island split from MAC.

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