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1928 HT world lead

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  • 1928 HT world lead

    I've been trying to figure out who the 1928 hammer throw world leader was. The easiest-to-find online source is this, and it gives the following world list...

    1 Frank Connor [sic] USA 52.39
    2 Patrick O'Callaghan IRL 52.32
    3 Ossian Skiöld SWE 51.85
    4 Edmund Black USA 51.32
    5 Norwood Wright USA 51.29

    I tried to find more details about Conner's 52.39, supposedly thrown on June 2, 1928 at Travers Island. The sports section of the June 3, 1928 Brooklyn Daily Eagle covered that meet (which was a NYAC handicap meet); the main story doesn't mention Conner, but the result section does:

    16-pound hammer throw--Won by Frank Conner, Yale, 10 feet, 171 feet 10 [the fraction looks a bit like 5/8 but isn't clear] inches
    171-10 5/8 is, of course, 52.39; but the problem is that this was a handicap meet; and while the hammer (unlike most other events) was not explicitly noted as a handicap event, my reading is that the "10 feet" means that Conner received a 10-foot handicap and that the quoted result includes that extra 10 feet, meaning his best throw that day was actually only 161-10 and nowhere near the world lead. (That a thrower like Conner would have received a 10-foot handicap is not implausible; at that time he was a relatively unknown 19-year-old Yale freshman, and the scratch man was IC4A champion Norwood Wright.)

    On this evidence, I decided that the 52.39 probably wasn't legit and tried to find a contemporary 1928 world list, hoping it would get things like this right. Naturally, the only contemporary list I actually did manage to find has Conner as #1 (with 52.39), Skiöld as #2 and doesn't list O'Callaghan's 52.32 at all. I don't trust that list a bit (it's clearly missing other marks), but that certainly didn't clear things up or support my conclusion that O'Callaghan was the real world leader.

    Finally, I turned to a source I don't trust at all (Martti Jukola) on the off-chance that, for once, he might have got it right. You can probably guess what he said, because it's so lovely when sources are in perfect agreement...
    After the Olympics Sköld won the [Swedish] national championship with 51.85, the year's top mark.
    So... who was the real world leader in 1928? My money is still on O'Callaghan, but I hope somebody here (dj?) actually knows.
    Last edited by LopenUupunut; 12-30-2016, 08:40 PM. Reason: missing word

  • #2
    The ATFS series of books reconstructing earlier decades goes with Connor, 171-10 3/4 (52.39), with no notations regards any "handicap" status.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by gh View Post
      The ATFS series of books reconstructing earlier decades goes with Connor, 171-10 3/4 (52.39), with no notations regards any "handicap" status.
      Well, the ATFS is wrong but probably understandably so because it wasn't specifically identified as handicap as were the other throws. However, it was clearly a handicap competition given that the form of the description exactly matches those identified as being handicap events.

      While, I can't vouch for the distances, the transcript clearly shows that Wright was off scratch meaning that other thrower's distances included the stated handicap distance - this is how throws handicaps work (my bold):
      16 Pound hammer throw. Won by Frank Connor, Yale, 10 feet, [171 feet 10 1/4?] inches, John Dalent(sp?), unattached, 20 feet, [162 feet,8 3/4?] inches, second; Norwood O. Wright, N.Y.A.C., scratch, [160 feet 2 inches?], third.

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      • #4
        To further demonstrate the similarities with other handicap throws events, the headline description for the shot put says
        The scratchmen did not fare well in the shotput. Latimer Lawrence, who had 5 feet handicap, won the event with 49 feet 2 inches. Krenz's best was slightly over 46 feet while Rothert, the other scratch man, could do no better than 47 feet 6 3\4 inches.
        Note that Eric Krenz, "the Stanford weight throwing sensation" managed to win the discus off scratch despite 2nd and 3rd having handicaps of 20 feet!.

        The scratchmen in the shot put ended up out of the places when handicaps were taken into account. Note how the results are greater than the scratch (actual) distances thrown and are described in the detailed results in exactly the same manner as the hammer.
        16 pound shot put, handicap. Won by Latimer Lawrence, N.Y.A.C., 5 feet, 49 feet 2 inches; Albert Fenster, Stanford, [2 feet, 5 inches?], 48 feet [8 1/4?] inches, second; Thomas P Skidd?, N.Y.A.C., 3 feet, 48 feet, [6 inches?], third.

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        • #5
          The problem starts with the New York Times, which did not report this as a handicap event, unlike the other throwing events. The Times reported the distances (without reference to handicaps) as Connors [sic] 171-10 3/4, Dalenz 162-8, Wright 160-5. The Brooklyn Eagles distances are 171-10 3/4 (10 ft handicap), Dalenz 162-8 3/4 (20 ft), Wright 160-5 (scratch).

          The handicaps given by the Brooklyn Eagle are quite reasonable given the athlete's season records given below:

          Connor: 1)Yfr/Prin fr-NwHav 5/12 (46.15/151-5), 1/hdcp[2])NYAC SpG-TravIsl 6/2 (49.34/161-10 ¾ MR--NO), 3)EnOT-NYC 6/17[BGL-16] (49.26/161-7 3/8), 4[q])AAU/OT-Cambridge 7/6 (48.63/159-6 7/8), 6)OG-Amsterdam 7/30 (46.75/153-5)

          Dalenz: 2)NYC(GovIsl) 5/27 (46.16/151-5 ¼), 2/hdcp/[3])NYAC SpG-TravIsl 6/2 (43.50/142-8), 3)MetAAU-Newark 6/9 (46.33/152-0 ½), 1)AAU Jr-TrvIsl 10/13 (40.45/139-3 ½)

          Wright:
          1)PennR-Philadelphia 4/28 (46.60/152-11), 1)Corn/Penn-Ithaca 5/12 (47.51/155-1 12), 1)Prin/Corn-Princeton 5/19 (49.20/161-5), 1)IC4A-Cambridge 5/26 (51.09/167-7 ½), 3/hdcp[1])NYAC SpG-TravIsl 6/2 (48.89/160-5), nq)AAU/OT-Cambridge 7/6 (<48.34/158-7 ¼), 1)NYAC FlG-TravIsl 9/22 (51.29/168-3 ½)

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          • #6
            dj, it's a classic history problem - best primary source always wins (if you can find it!). NYT may have got results second hand and replicated the error, or the handicaps were edited out assuming their inclusion was an error as HT wasn't listed in the program as a handicap event. Many possibilities.

            I would expect there are other similar errors in historical lists. Even now, errors arise from mixed weight throws competitions that are not properly identified or incorrectly interpreted.

            It'll probably only take 30 or 40 years of whack-a-mole to kill the error...

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            • #7
              Thanks, everybody!

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