Bob Seaman in 1956 Olympic Trials


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Bob Seaman in 1956 Olympic Trials

Postby utopian » Sun Jan 02, 2005 1:36 am

In 1956 Bob Seaman of UCLA was expected to make the Olympic team in the 1500 meters. However, I believe that he failed to make it due to an injury--possibly an infection.

Does anyone have any information about this race?
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Re: Bob Seaman in 1956 Olympic Trials

Postby gh » Sun Jan 02, 2005 7:59 am

I don't know about "expected," but he was certainly one of the favorites. In a nutshell, Seaman apparently let his nerves get the better of him, and he went into the final turn in 3rd but stumbled entering the straight and ended up 5th.

"Dwyer and I wnated to make the team so badly it must have hurt us. The others had less at stake and were more relaxed. I have never experienced anything like when my leg suddently went out from under me just off the turn."

eventual 3rd-placer Don Bowden said that at the time he thought, "What am I doing passing Seaman?"
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Re: Bob Seaman in 1956 Olympic Trials

Postby dukehjsteve » Sun Jan 02, 2005 10:07 am

But it sure was neat when in 1962 or 1963, Seaman got under 4 minutes while running with Jim Beatty for the LATC.
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Re: Bob Seaman in 1956 Olympic Trials

Postby dr ngo » Mon Jan 03, 2005 12:17 am

>But it sure was neat when in 1962 or 1963, Seaman got under 4 minutes while
>running with Jim Beatty for the LATC.

Are you sure about this? I used to follow UCLA and Seaman very closely (in the 1950s), and was still in the area in 1962-63, albeit not quite as assiduous at keeping up on track. Do you have any details?

If it's true - hooray for Bob.
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Re: Bob Seaman in 1956 Olympic Trials

Postby dukehjsteve » Mon Jan 03, 2005 5:37 am

>>But it sure was neat when in 1962 or 1963, Seaman got under 4 minutes
>while
>running with Jim Beatty for the LATC.

Are you sure about this? I
>used to follow UCLA and Seaman very closely (in the 1950s), and was still in
>the area in 1962-63, albeit not quite as assiduous at keeping up on track. Do
>you have any details?

If it's true - hooray for Bob.

Absolutely sure, plus I just looked it up to confirm. PR in '62 of 3:58.0 in London, then '63 PR of 3.59.1 at Compton.
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Re: Bob Seaman in 1956 Olympic Trials

Postby gh » Mon Jan 03, 2005 8:11 am

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Re: Bob Seaman in 1956 Olympic Trials

Postby Django » Wed Jan 05, 2005 8:16 pm

He's a very nice guy and, at the time of the famous US vs Soviet Union at Stanford in 1962, he was there with Igloi's runners (those whom I remember include Beatty, Max Truex, Jim Grelle, and Laszlo Tabori).
I was a gawky 19 year old kid at the time, and asked if I could run his workouts with him-- and he said "yes". So, for most of that week, I got to run twice-daily workouts under the direction of the famous Mihaly Igloi. I was ecsatic when Seaman broke 4 minutes in London just a few weeks later!
That was among my best memories of that week I'd spent at Stanford, during which I got to hang around with guys like Bob Hayes and Ralph Boston, and Igor ter Ovanesayan and the Soviet long-jump coach at the time, Vladimir Popov.
There have been lots of especially good people in our sport. In those days, security was virtually non-existant, so it was easy to meet all those famous athletes and coaches--- and many of them got me into parties when there were security types lurking around. Great memories!
Last edited by Django on Thu Jan 06, 2005 12:40 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Bob Seaman in 1956 Olympic Trials

Postby blissbooth » Wed Jan 05, 2005 8:51 pm

I recall seeing Seaman race Mal Whitfield at the Compton Relays in the early/mid 50's. It was an 800M/880Yd race; Seaman was a freshman at UCLA. Whitfield won handily, glancing back at Seaman, not using any more gas than needed. This was the good old days, the time of the Compton and the Coliseum Relays.
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Re: Bob Seaman in 1956 Olympic Trials

Postby Old Timer » Thu Jan 06, 2005 6:57 am

>I don't know about "expected," but he was certainly one of the favorites. In
>a nutshell, Seaman apparently let his nerves get the better of him, and he went
>into the final turn in 3rd but stumbled entering the straight and ended up
>5th.

"Dwyer and I wnated to make the team so badly it must have hurt us.
>The others had less at stake and were more relaxed."

I don't think there is anything like the pressure of the American Olympic Trials. Putting so much into intense training for months (or years) and knowing that it will mean nothing if you don't get it done in one specific race makes it intense. I think the Trials in both '56 (when I wasn't expected to succeed) and '60 (when I was) were the only two times I felt pressure.
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Re: Bob Seaman in 1956 Olympic Trials

Postby utopian » Thu Jan 06, 2005 6:35 pm

>I recall seeing Seaman race Mal Whitfield at the Compton Relays in the
>early/mid 50's. It was an 800M/880Yd race; Seaman was a freshman at UCLA.
>Whitfield won handily, glancing back at Seaman, not using any more gas than
>needed. This was the good old days, the time of the Compton and the Coliseum
>Relays.

Do you have any information regarding Whitefield's academic situation at that time? I remember him at the Santa Barbara Relays, probably 1956. He had a reputation as a beautiful runner and you could see it there, even though I believe that he only ran in the high 1950s. Unfortunately, the film that I've seen of his running style doesn't fully capture what he looked like in action.
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Re: Bob Seaman in 1956 Olympic Trials

Postby gh » Thu Jan 06, 2005 6:41 pm

Academic situation? He turned 32 that year and had had his senior year at Ohio State in '49.
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Re: Bob Seaman in 1956 Olympic Trials

Postby utopian » Fri Jan 07, 2005 8:52 am

>Academic situation? He turned 32 that year and had had his senior year at Ohio
>State in '49.

But I am quite sure that he was representing a school. Of course, there probably were non-school teams also at the Santa Barbara relays.

I must admit that after this many years I remember events and dates, but don't always put them together correctly.
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Re: Bob Seaman in 1956 Olympic Trials

Postby gh » Fri Jan 07, 2005 9:11 am

Whitfield ran for the LA Striders at the '56 OT. (and the USAF in '52)
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Re: Bob Seaman in 1956 Olympic Trials

Postby utopian » Fri Jan 07, 2005 5:28 pm

>Whitfield ran for the LA Striders at the '56 OT. (and the USAF in '52)

Education
undergraduate: Ohio State (Columbus, Ohio)
undergraduate: Cal State Los Angeles (Los Angeles, California), 1956
http://www.usatf.org/HallOfFame/TF/show ... HOFIDs=181
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Re: Bob Seaman in 1956 Olympic Trials

Postby utopian » Fri Jan 07, 2005 5:56 pm

In 1954 Whitfield won the James E. Sullivan Memorial Award, given annually by the Amateur Athletic Union of the United States (AAU) to the outstanding amateur athlete in the country. He was the first black athlete to win the award. Whitfield narrowly missed making the 1956 Olympic team while a student at California State University, Los Angeles and he retired from track competition shortly thereafter. After graduating he worked for the U.S. State Department, conducting sports clinics in Africa. He later ran a training camp for runners in Ethiopia.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mal_Whitfield

He must have needed some credits. What we don't know is whether his B.A. is from Cal. State or Ohio State.

I now recall that there was some discussion of Whitfield still being eligible, but I certainly don't know whether I read it in the L.A. Times or heard it at Santa Barbara.

Two other things that I remember about Santa Barbara. I saw the movie Carousel at one of those wonderful huge old theaters. The inside dome was black and the small lights made you think that you were outside. A wonderful setting for a wonderful movie. Today you probably don't even see the stars in urban settings in Southern California. It is rare even in Western Massachusetts where I now live.

The other is that in those days coeds presented us with our awards. I believe our relay team won in the collegiate division. Later I got the phone number of one of the presenters and asked her out--a very bold action for me. She was very kind in her declination.
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Re: Bob Seaman in 1956 Olympic Trials

Postby john clark » Sun Jan 09, 2005 8:57 pm

Are you a Todd Rundgren Utopian or Thomas Moore?
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Re: Bob Seaman in 1956 Olympic Trials

Postby utopian » Mon Jan 10, 2005 7:43 am

>Are you a Todd Rundgren Utopian or Thomas Moore?

I'm more of a "Looking Backward" Utopian. But I haven't read it in over 40 years.
http://xroads.virginia.edu/~HYPER/BELLAMY/toc.html

BTW, I'll have more on this thread shortly, but I'll start a new one just on Whitfield. In case anyone is still reading this, Whitfield did not graduate from Ohio State University, but from Cal State Los Angeles.
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Re: Bob Seaman in 1956 Olympic Trials

Postby dj » Mon Jan 10, 2005 8:12 am

In
>case anyone is still reading this, Whitfield did not graduate from Ohio State
>University, but from Cal State Los Angeles.

Correct, although he concluded his NCAA eligibility while at Ohio State.

There was a question regarding his collegiate eligibility in 1956, and while the question was being resolved he anchored CSLA's winning SMR at Modesto.
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Re: Bob Seaman in 1956 Olympic Trials

Postby Jim Rorick » Thu Jan 13, 2005 12:17 am

< Two other things that I remember about Santa Barbara. I saw the movie Carousel at one of those wonderful huge old theaters. The inside dome was black and the small lights made you think that you were outside. A wonderful setting for a wonderful movie. Today you probably don't even see the stars in urban settings in Southern California. It is rare even in Western Massachusetts where I now live. >

That was the Arlington Theatre. The theatre still exists, but they seem to be using it only for concerts/shows and not movies (went to UCSB in late 1960s and checked it out on last visit in 2002).
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