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Abbott, Cleveland (09 December 1892–14 April 1955), Tuskegee Institute educator, administrator, and athletic coach, was born in Yankton, South Dakota, one of seven children of Mollie Brown and Elbert B. Abbott. The family moved to Watertown, South Dakota, during Abbott’s childhood. Early on he excelled at sports, earning sixteen varsity letters at Watertown High School in football, basketball, track and field, and baseball. His family was among a small percentage of black residents of South Dakota in the early twentieth century....

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Bowerman, Bill (19 February 1911–24 December 1999), track coach, was born William Jay Bowerman in Portland, Oregon, the son of Jay Bowerman, president of the Oregon state senate, and Lizzie Hoover Bowerman. The Bowermans were divorced in 1913 and the children were placed in the custody of their mother....

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Cromwell, Dean Bartlett (20 September 1879–03 August 1962), track and field coach, was born in Turner, Oregon, the son of William Cromwell, the owner of a sawmill and a small ranch, and Emma (maiden name unknown). Following his father’s death in 1891, Cromwell, his mother, and four siblings moved to southern California, where Cromwell became a premier athlete while attending Occidental College Prep in Los Angeles. His athletic prowess at Occidental College won him recognition in 1901 as the Helms Athletic Foundation athlete of the year in southern California. At Occidental he played first base in baseball and right halfback in football. A versatile track performer, he ran the 50- and 100-yard dashes and the quarter mile. He also competed in the pole vault, high jump, shot put, and hammer throw as well as in bicycle racing. Following his college years, he represented the Los Angeles Young Men’s Christian Association in 1904 and 1905 at YMCA national meets, placing in the high jump, shot put, and hammer throw....

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Edmundson, Hec (03 August 1886–06 August 1964), college basketball and track coach, was born Clarence Sinclair Edmundson in Moscow, Idaho, the son of Thomas Sinclair Edmundson and Emma Jeannette Rowley. He acquired an unusual nickname as a boy. Running along dirt roads in the Palouse region of western Idaho, he was frequently heard to utter “Aw, heck!” in self-criticism of his training efforts. Thus Clarence became Hec, the name by which he was known throughout his life....

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Epstein, Charlotte (15 September 1884–26 August 1938), promoter of U.S. women’s swimming, was born in New York City to Moritz H. Epstein, who had emigrated from Germany around 1863, and Sara Epstein. Charlotte and her brother were brought up in the Jewish faith of both their parents. Educated at the Ethical Culture School, she became a court stenographer, but she soon focused her career on her swimming interests. She never married....

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Flanagan, John J. (09 January 1873–04 June 1938), track and field athlete and coach, was born of poor farming parents in Kilmallack, Limerick County, Ireland (his parents’ names are unknown). As a boy, Flanagan could run, jump, and throw heavy weights with success against anyone in the county, and this in a nation that had been a world leader for a century in such sporting activities....

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Hayward, William Louis (02 July 1868–14 December 1947), track and field athlete and coach, was born William Louis Heyward in Detroit, Michigan, the son of Thomas Heyward. His mother’s name is unknown. In 1878 William, his brother, and three sisters went to live with their grandparents in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, when their parents left North America to manage a Peruvian rubber plantation. Hayward lived in Toronto until 1888, when he left to earn a living as a professional athlete and a vaudeville performer....

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Munn, Biggie (11 September 1908–18 March 1975), college athlete, coach, and administrator, was born Clarence Lester Munn in Grow Township, Minnesota, the son of H. B. Munn and Jessie (maiden name unknown), farmers. Munn’s father died when he was eight years old, and his mother moved the family to Minneapolis, where Munn attended first Jordan and then Minneapolis North high schools. Even though he had to work before-school and evening jobs in order to help the family, Munn was a three-sport high school star. An All-City fullback from 1925 to 1927, Munn was the captain of the football team in his senior year. He won varsity letters in basketball three years, and as the captain of the track and field team he performed superbly in field and running events, including the javelin and shotput, long jump, discus, relays, and 100-yard dash. In five track meets during his senior year, he averaged four first places in his six events, set state records in the javelin and shotput, and was undefeated in the 100-yard dash, which he ran in 10 seconds. At North High School Munn gained his nickname “Biggie” due to his almost-six-foot height, stocky build, and well over 200-pound weight....

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Murphy, Michael Charles (26 February 1861–04 June 1913), athletic trainer and track and field coach, was born in Westboro, Massachusetts; little is known about his parents and his early life, except that he was educated in the local primary and secondary schools in Westboro. After finishing high school, Murphy joined the volunteer fire department. As a fireman he demonstrated great athletic ability, especially running speed and endurance. In the late 1870s he profited from these skills in track and field as a sprinter and as a long distance walker in six-day pedestrian contests. Murphy also played on local minor league baseball teams and fought in bareknuckle prize fights....

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Oosterbaan, Bennie (24 February 1906–25 October 1990), college athlete and coach, was born Benjamin Gaylord Oosterbaan, the son of Benjamin Oosterbaan, a Muskegon, Michigan, postmaster, and Harriet Dick. Oosterbaan starred in four sports at Muskegon High School. He was selected as a forward on the 1922–1923 Interscholastic All-America basketball team, all-state in basketball in his senior year, and all-state as a football end in his junior and senior years. He also played baseball and won a state track and field championship in the discus. During the time he played at Muskegon High, the team won four football and three basketball state championships....

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Orton, George Washington (10 January 1873–26 June 1958), athlete, coach, and educator, was born in Stratbury, Ontario, Canada, the son of Oliver Henry Orton and Mary Ann Irvine. Although crippled by a childhood accident, he restored his ambulatory ability through exercise, especially running. Reminiscing about his origins as a runner, Orton said that many boys “beat me in the dashes, but as the route became long, I killed off my adherents.” Recognizing that distance running was his “forte,” he practiced regularly and developed into one of the premier athletes of the late nineteenth century....

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Sheppard, Melvin Winfield (05 September 1883–04 January 1942), Olympic gold medalist and track coach, was born in Almonesson, New Jersey, the son of Harry Sheppard and Alice (maiden name unknown), farmers. He attended the Brown Preparatory School in Philadelphia, where the sturdily built 5′ 8″, 165-pound young man played football, won cross-country races, and set an interscholastic two-mile record of 9:57.4. After graduating in 1902, Sheppard moved to New York City and went to work at the ...

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St. John, Lynn Wilbur (18 November 1876–30 September 1950), college athletics coach and administrator, was born in Union City, Pennsylvania. His parents’ names are unknown. His family moved to Monroe, Ohio, where he began his athletic career by playing sports in high school. After graduating in 1896 he began teaching school in Barberton, Ohio, although his career goal was to become a doctor. In 1900 he enrolled at Ohio State University in Columbus and played varsity football, but he left after one year to teach and coach at Fostoria (Ohio) High School because of a death in his family. A year later he was able to return to college, this time at the College of Wooster in Wooster, Ohio, where he also coached the major sports and served as athletic director....

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Wefers, Bernard J. (19 February 1873–18 April 1957), athlete and coach, was born in Lawrence, Massachusetts, the son of working-class parents, whose names are unknown. He attended Boston College in 1893 and 1894, where he was a star sprinter and captain of the football team. He then transferred to Georgetown University and enrolled in its medical program but was unable “to pursue it to the end.” Running for the prestigious New York Athletic Club (NYAC) in 1895, he won the 100- and 220-yard dashes at the National Amateur Championships. He repeated these double victories in 1896 and 1897. In the first-of-its-kind dual meet competitions between the best of Great Britain and the United States in September of 1895, Wefers won in 9.8 seconds and 21.6 seconds, establishing himself as a world-class sprinter. Ten thousand New Yorkers watched the event at Manhattan Athletic Field....

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Wilkinson, Bud (23 April 1916–09 February 1994), college football coach, sports commentator, and politician, was born Charles Burnham Wilkinson in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to Charles Patton Wilkinson, a successful mortgage broker, and Edith Lindbloom Wilkinson, who died when Bud was seven years old. After his mother’s death, Bud attended the Shattuck Military Academy in Faribault, Minnesota. He thrived at the school and quickly became a standout student and athlete. He graduated in 1933....