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  • Ernie Klann

    Gotta tell a story here, completely true and perhaps of interest to all you track history wonks like myself.

    I was on an 11-day bicycle trip 11 years ago out in the "gold country" of California with 2 other guys. We stopped on the side of the road to look at maps outside of Murphys, about 40 miles south of Placerville.

    A friendly courtly older gent stopped to see if he could offer assistance. His name was Ernie Klann, and a few minutes' conversation revealed that back in the 30's he had left California to run at Kansas, after finishing 2nd in the Cal state HS meet to Louis Zamperini in the mile, in about 4:35 if I recall correctly. Of course at Kansas he ran on relay teams with Glenn Cunningham, and he also ran in the 1936 Olympic Trials... at his house he showed me his old jersey from that meet. Ernie was still an active runner at about age 80 ( this was 1992 ) and road race organizer. We set up out tents in his front yard for 3 days and he treated us like kings ! We even went to a high school track in Murphys and watched him do his daily track workout, remember this guy was about 80.

    Sadly, Ernie's wife send me a note about 5 years ago that Ernie had succumbed to cancer.

    Anyone else ever heard of this wonderful, wonderful man ??

  • #2
    Re: Ernie Klann

    Sorry to burst your bubble, Steve, but sounds pretty much like a yarn made up out of whole cloth.

    First clue is that Cunningham was a senior at Kansas in 1934, the year that Zamperini won the Cal State mile (with places 2-5 being Mercer, Mounday, Young and Bayer). So anybody in that race wouldn't have been able to run w/ KU varsity until '36, two years after Cunningham was out of eligibility. No Klann in top 4 in any other years of Cal State either.

    Nobody named Klann among the 13 runners listed in the OT 1500 in '36 (the Hymans history).

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    • #3
      Re: Ernie Klann

      Garry, I did a little more thinking on this... I now remember that he said it was the 1932, repeat 1932, Trials... (and I think the were run, just like in 1984, in the Coliseum) and he showed me a newpaper article written sometime in the 80's including a photo of him wearing that "1932 Olympic Trials" jersey in some road race, with his son alongside him.

      No, I am pretty sure this guy is 99 % legit.

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      • #4
        Re: Ernie Klann

        just read your response again Garry, and I cannot make the dates/etc jive either. But this is all based on conversations that took place 11 years ago. Must be some measure of accuracy to it. In any event he was a great guy, definitely not a track BS'er and boy did we have fun talking track, track stars from the 30's, etc. He knew his stuff... and I can spot the phonies.

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        • #5
          Re: Ernie Klann

          I am reminded of Frank Shorter's best quote ever:

          <<EVERYBODY ran 4:30 in high school.>>

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          • #6
            Re: Ernie Klann

            Nobody named Klann in my 1932 Olympic Trials (which, by the way, were at Stanford not the Coliseum) program, but, oddly, I looked backed a program, and on May 16, 1932, the combined California Intercollegiate and Southern California High School meet was held in the Coliseum. In the Class B (that was based on exponents, 130 or fewer, a function of age, height and weight, not size of school) 1320 one of the entrants is someone named Klann of Hoover High. This part of the program isn't scored so I don't know where he finished. In the Class A (unlimited) mile, third place went to Benavidez of Manual Arts, and I remember someone of that name running for SC in the 1930s. Some other greats competed: Jimmy LuValle in the 440, Al Fitch in the 220, Foy Draper in the 100, Sefton and Rand (tied for fourth!) in the pole vault, Cornelius Johnson first in the high jump.

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            • #7
              Re: Ernie Klann

              I have a very simple method for telling whether or not somebody is making stuff up about their high school/college track career: if their lips are moving, they're lying. (rim-shot)

              Sad to say, that's pretty close to the truth though. And probably for all fields of endeavor, sporting or not. Not necessarily outright lying, just fudging the truth a little here or there, and then as years go by the tale grows in the telling and I suspect people find themselves having created their own little mythology and as the years get foggier they don't even recall that they invented a lot of it. False-memory syndrome to the max.

              Mr. Klann sounds like a prime example of this. There's absolutely nothing to connect him with a high placing in the Cal State meet, running with Cunningham, running with Zamperini or running in any OT.

              A newspaper article about him written in the '80s (50 years after the fact) is useless; local papers print whoppers about former "track stars" with regularity.

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              • #8
                Re: Ernie Klann

                hey, this is no big deal to me whatsoever, I never talked to the man again. So if it was all largely made up, and perhaps it was, so be it.

                So who lies more: fishermen, golfers, or tracksters ?

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                • #9
                  Re: Ernie Klann

                  All right, gh, but suppose Klann was a freshman (or even a sophomore) in 1932 as his Class B classification suggests. Might he not have run against Zamperini in the Southernn Sectional meet in 1934 or 1935? The Olympic Trials jersey is harder to explain. Maybe he got to be pals with fellow Kansas grad Cunningham and the latter give him his jersey from 1932 or 1936. Unlikely, but who knows?

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                  • #10
                    Re: Ernie Klann

                    not to beat a dead horse, but I googled ernie klann and came up with

                    http://www.onyourmarkevents.com/event%2 ... 0hill.html

                    which talks of a Hernia Hill 1/2 Marathon in Avery dedicated to his memory, so if nothing else I did not dream the whole thing.... he was a real person !

                    And sorry, I do not know the way to type in these stupid websites so you can just click on them.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Ernie Klann

                      oh, you CAN click on it I see now.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Ernie Klann

                        No one named Ernie Klann ever placed in the top five in the California State meet in the mile or the 880. There were 16 entrants in Zamperini's state mile race in 1934 (second was Gaylord Mercer in an estimated 4:28), and I know the names of only 10 of them, so he might have been there... billthedog's Klann, from Glendale Hoover HS, finished 5th in the Southern California Championships B 1320 in 1931 and was unplaced in 1932. He did not finish in the top five in either the 880 or mile in any year thereafter.

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                        • #13
                          Re: Ernie Klann

                          I show billthedog's Klann (no first name) from Hoover of Glendale as the the winner of the Foothill League mile in 4:40.7, 4/23/32 at Glendale. If Klann was a senior in '32, it's possible he and Cunningham were KU teammates in '33 and '34, Cunningham's senior year, although Klann would have been on the freshman team in '33 (or '34 if we have his HS graduation wrong.)

                          Klann doesn't show up in any high school materials I have for earlier or subsequent years. For that matter, Zamperini doesn't show up on lists as a 9th grader in '32.

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                          • #14
                            Re: Ernie Klann

                            IS ERNIE any relation to KU KLUX?

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                            • #15
                              Re: Ernie Klann

                              >IS ERNIE any relation to KU KLUX?

                              They are spelled differently, if you want an intelligent answer to a very, very stupid question.

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