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  • Question concerning the high jump and John Thomas

    I recall going to an indoor meet in Madison Square Garden around 1960-'61, give or take a year or two, and seeing John Thomas beat Russians in the high jump. Most likely, but not necessarily, the Millrose Games. My recollection is that the event continued after everything else was finished, and almost the entire crowd stayed. It was the height of the Cold War and the crowd was loudly rooting for Thomas to beat the Russians. Which I am almost certain he did - to huge cheers.
    Can anyone confirm - or disprove - with specifics, my 60 year old recollection?

  • #2
    Originally posted by GeoffPietsch View Post
    I recall going to an indoor meet in Madison Square Garden around 1960-'61, give or take a year or two, and seeing John Thomas beat Russians in the high jump. Most likely, but not necessarily, the Millrose Games. My recollection is that the event continued after everything else was finished, and almost the entire crowd stayed. It was the height of the Cold War and the crowd was loudly rooting for Thomas to beat the Russians. Which I am almost certain he did - to huge cheers.
    Can anyone confirm - or disprove - with specifics, my 60 year old recollection?
    Thomas lost twice* to Brumel in 1961. First on Feb 17 at MSG and again Mar 3 at the Knights of Columbus meet in NY.

    * thrice - see next post
    Last edited by Atticus; 10-01-2020, 03:08 PM.

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    • #3
      The year you're thinking of is 1961. That was the one year in the six year span of 1959-1964 that featured Soviet high jumpers at Madison Square Garden. But Valeriy Brumel won each of his three Garden meets against John Thomas.

      The first of the three Garden meets were the New York AC Games (Feb 17), with Brumel jumping 7-3 to break Thomas's board-floor WR. Thomas was 2nd at 7-1. The AAU meet was next (Feb 25), and Brumel beat Thomas again, 7-2 to 7-0. At the New York Knights of Columbus meet (March 3), Brumel broke his own board-floor WR with a 7-3 1/2, with Thomas 2nd at 6-10.

      The same meets featured long jump match-ups between Ralph Boston and Igor Ter-Ovanesyan.

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      • #4
        Those were great years for track and field.

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        • #5
          I was at that 1961 AAU meet. .From 1958 through 1961 my Dad and I went every year. This was my BIG Dad and Steve annual outing to the Big City, food in a NY restaurant, and the climax being Madison Square Garden, and the AAU championships. Seeing Brumel in the high jump of course for me was the highlight of that 1961 AAU meet.
          Last edited by dukehjsteve; 10-01-2020, 10:40 PM.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by dj View Post
            The year you're thinking of is 1961. That was the one year in the six year span of 1959-1964 that featured Soviet high jumpers at Madison Square Garden. But Valeriy Brumel won each of his three Garden meets against John Thomas.



            The first of the three Garden meets were the New York AC Games (Feb 17), with Brumel jumping 7-3 to break Thomas's board-floor WR. Thomas was 2nd at 7-1. The AAU meet was next (Feb 25), and Brumel beat Thomas again, 7-2 to 7-0. At the New York Knights of Columbus meet (March 3), Brumel broke his own board-floor WR with a 7-3 1/2, with Thomas 2nd at 6-10.

            The same meets featured long jump match-ups between Ralph Boston and Igor Ter-Ovanesyan.
            Thanks for these replies. while I mis-remembered who won, it was fun recalling the competition. I suspect it was the AAU meet that I attended. Thomas may not have won but he definitely jumped well and was competitive.

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            • #7
              From looking at newspaper reporting of these three Garden meets, it seems that they were all sell-outs (or close to it) with attendance of approximately 14,000-16,000 at each. So it is certainly understandable that the crowd experience was the most vivid memory for the OP.
              Last edited by wamego relays champ; 10-01-2020, 04:37 PM.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by dj View Post
                At the New York Knights of Columbus meet (March 3), Brumel broke his own board-floor WR with a 7-3 1/2
                I am not old enough to recall those meets from my past, so I was unfamiliar with the term "board-floor WR," which apparently came about because Brumel had earlier jumped 7-4½ indoors but it was not eligible for record status because it was off of a dirt surface.

                Not sure if a subscription is required to see the NY Times coverage:
                https://timesmachine.nytimes.com/tim...rect=true&ip=0

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by wamego relays champ View Post

                  I am not old enough to recall those meets from my past, so I was unfamiliar with the term "board-floor WR," which apparently came about because Brumel had earlier jumped 7-4½ indoors but it was not eligible for record status because it was off of a dirt surface.....]
                  there were no such things as official indoor WRs in those days.

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