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USA vs. USSR - the facts?

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  • USA vs. USSR - the facts?

    Any old-timers here who want to share their memories of the USA/USSR duals that seem to have bigger crowds every time the story is retold?

    I'd be interested to hear the facts...!

  • #2
    Re: USA vs. USSR - the facts?

    I assume you're speaking of Stanford '62, not the series in general? I don't recall any great legends attached to the rest of the series.

    Billthedog, who was surely there, canprobably weigh in with a first-hand account of Stanford, but here's what Cordner Nelson's story on the front page of the August '62 issue said:

    <<Russian Valeriy Brumel and American Hal Connolly broke world recods and numerous lesser records fell in the fourth dual meet between the strongest nations on this planet. An emotional crowd of 153,000 for the two days, largest in U.S. track and field history....>>

    Later in the story the second-day attendance is cited as 81,000, so that would make the first day 72,000. I've seen pictures of the stadium and there's no doubt in my mind those are "accurate" counts (given the rounding to even thousands, there was obviously some guesstimating going on).

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    • #3
      Re: USA vs. USSR - the facts?

      When I think of US vs. USSR dual meets, I think of one name:

      Gerry Lindgren. Skinny, young little kid who ran three times a day and spanked the Russians in a classic 10k I believe then just diappeared (lirerally) a short time later.

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      • #4
        Re: USA vs. USSR - the facts?

        Attendance figures from other meets in the early years:

        1958
        first meet was in Moscow, held on a Sunday-Monday (??!). Stadium not full, c75,000 first day, c30,000 second day.

        1959
        Philadelphia: "a disappointing two-day crowd of 54,380" (equal to about one day of Penn Relays these days, clarifyign once again that Penn isn't a track meet, it's a huge social event)

        1960
        Oly year, no meet

        1961
        Moscow again: 60,000/70,000

        1962
        in other post: 81,000/72,000 at Stanford

        1963
        Moscow: unbylined report in T&FN says "largest crowd ever" at 140,000 total, but Stanford was reported as 153,000, so......?

        1964
        LA Coloseum: first day cited in T&FN as "more than 50,000," no mention of second.

        1965
        Kiev: c30,000/c45,000

        1966
        LA cancelled: politics... nothing in '67 or '68

        1969
        LA, now a tri w/ Commonwealth added.
        15,859/14,481 on a weekend when everybody but these 30,000-odd souls was home glued to the TV watching the moon landing.

        1970
        Leningrad: one of the days c40,000, no ref. to other day.

        1971
        Berkeley: again a tri, w/ "World All Stars" added
        17,000 first day, SRO 22,000 the next day. Considering this was the July 4 weekend, not bad.

        way more than anyone wanted to know, I'm sure.

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        • #5
          Re: USA vs. USSR - the facts?

          excellent info! many thanks, just what I was looking for

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          • #6
            Re: USA vs. USSR - the facts?

            I'll add one... at the 1959 Philly meet, who remembers Bob Soth's agonizing physical collapse ? They had to cart him off the track and rush him to the hospital.

            That's also the meet where Dick Bank wrote an impassioned, scathing column in T&FN about how poorly the meet was run, which then brought a response from the AAU, and then finally a reply from Bert or Cordner, not apologizing for Dick's substantive criticisms but admitting that his use of words like "incompetence", etc. could have bee a bit toned down.

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            • #7
              Re: USA vs. USSR - the facts?

              It would be fascinating to study the 1962 US-USSR dual meet in the larger context of the cold war and America's preoccupation with symbolically beating the Soviets (and the other way around, too). Tom Derderian theorizes in his Boston Marathon history that the running boom began in the early 60s (but didn't reach "critical mass" until the 70s) as a result of the cold war and various things that Kennedy did to promote physical fitness. Basically, he thinks the running boom was an outgrowth of patriotism and militarism--sort of a way that ordinary people could train for war. The '62 dual meet would fit right into that theory.

              I recently saw a bit of an old Brady Bunch rerun, where Alice took the family on a jog. I expected a 1970s hippy-dippy outdoor "experience", but instead she led them through a "hep-two-three-four" military cadence. Fits right in again. I really should have studied Pop Culture in college instead of that math stuff!

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              • #8
                Re: USA vs. USSR - the facts?

                My recollections is that the meet in Moscow where Brumel cleared 7'5 3/4" came to the USA on black and white TV via Wideworld of sports. He did it in front of a packed stadium with Khrushchev smiling on and it was really dramatic. In '64 it our turn... I watched as Gerry Lindgren beat hell out of the Soviet distance runners. The LA Coliseum was probably half full and people were going nuts because it was a David v. Goliath thing. We thought Lindgren could walk on water, then, later that year, Billy Mills eclipsed the world in an even more frenetic Oly 10k. Given the Cold War tensions, the emotions of the respective crowds are impossible to adequately describe. Seems like we wanted to like the Russians as individuals and yet we were overjoyed when our guys could drub them. Surely the Russian fans felt the same way. Lindgren was an unbelievable talent and a really odd, interesting guy. Was there ever an American teen distance runner who ranked so high in world-wide results?

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                • #9
                  Re: USA vs. USSR - the facts?

                  Was
                  >there ever an American teen distance runner who
                  >ranked so high in world-wide results?

                  Jim Ryun? Take a look at his AR 2-mile just past his 19th birthday before you say "middle distance runner".

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                  • #10
                    Re: USA vs. USSR - the facts?

                    >When I think of US vs. USSR dual meets, I think
                    >of one name: Gerry Lindgren. Skinny, young
                    >little kid who ran three times a day and spanked
                    >the Russians in a classic 10k I believe then just
                    >diappeared (lirerally) a short time later.>

                    Dude-dude-dude! NFW!

                    Lindgren's career was only in a nascent stage when he beat back the horrid Commies in the summer of '64. There was still an unparalleled number of NCAA titles to come, not to mention a nation's-conscience-grabbing fight w/ the AAU to come. No wonder this most deservig of Hall of Fame candidates keeps gettting shat upon. I smell a (long) gh-ian thread on the subject to come. He falls victim to the pre-Runner's World curse. (i.e., if he wasn't running when we came on the scene, he aint' shit)

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: USA vs. USSR - the facts?

                      The 1964 U.S.-U.S.S.R. dual meet in Los Angeles was a fantastic meet. I didn't make the 1962 Palo Alto dual, but I was in the Coliseum in 1964. It's difficult now to imagine the tension and pressure of those meets. It wasn't just the competition on the field and on the track, but there was the politics of the world at that time. We almost went to war in 1962 over the Cuban missile crisis. President Kennedy was assassinated in 1963 and then this gigantic meet between these two countries. I'll never (hopefully) forget that 10,000 meters. What a race and the crowd going crazy. Bring back the track at Stanford Stadium and the Los Angeles Coliseum!

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                      • #12
                        Re: USA vs. USSR - the facts?

                        Billthedog, who was surely there,
                        >canprobably weigh in with a first-hand account of
                        >Stanford

                        I was indeed there, and that meet takes close to first place in my memories. I have no reason to question Cordner's estimate of the crowd those two glorious days.
                        Bill Allen

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                        • #13
                          Re: USA vs. USSR - the facts?

                          Hall wrote:
                          Jim Ryun? Take a look at his AR 2-mile just past his 19th birthday before you say "middle distance runner".

                          Fine, Ryun set a distance AR as a teenager. But Lindgren ran a WR 6M as a teenager. Case closed.

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                          • #14
                            Re: USA vs. USSR - the facts?

                            "The 1964 U.S.-U.S.S.R. dual meet in Los Angeles was a fantastic meet. I didn't make the 1962 Palo Alto dual, but I was in the Coliseum in 1964, " wrote Dale.

                            Story?

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                            • #15
                              Re: USA vs. USSR - the facts?

                              >Seems like we wanted to like the Russians as
                              >individuals and yet we were overjoyed when our
                              >guys could drub them. Surely the Russian fans
                              >felt the same way.

                              This is exactly what makes sports-as-politics so fascinating. We look at governments one way and the people another. Surely the governments of each country helped put these meets on because they furthered "us vs them" propaganda --is it any accident that they began to die out in the 1970s, the time Americans were most willing to question their own government?

                              I saw a show on PBS a few years back that profiled the friendship that Boston and Ter-O put together after one of these meets. It started when Boston got cornered in a stadium by Ter-O, and was quite afraid. Ter-O just said that "they can read lips", meaning he had to face the corner to talk so he wouldn't get in trouble with the KGB!

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