Thursday, October 20, 2016

V.1 #48 Bob MacVeigh – How His Love for the Sport Became an Agent for Change

Bob, perhaps more than any other local individual, represents the bridge between the way the local running community existed around 1950 and what it evolved to during the latter half of the 20th century. He was willing to try and do things that were uncommon at the time.  As a result, others followed his lead.

MacVeigh began high school at Chaminade in Dayton and promptly failed to make the football team due to his being rather small and skinny. Then, during his sophomore year, his family moved to Cincinnati, where he began attending Purcell High School. The Cavalier pigskin squad was a powerhouse during those years; so to satisfy his sporting desires he decided instead to try managing the school’s athletic teams.

During the fall, he assisted the football team. The next season saw him with the basketball squad. Then, when spring came, he asked Coach Brother William Schroeder if he could help manage the track team. However, Brother Bill suggested that he run instead. Bob’s slight frame, which was shoved around on the gridiron, was better suited for hurrying rather than crashing.  He immediately found himself finishing ahead of the school’s other distance runners. His niche on Hackberry Street was established as he found his sport. Bob became a decent high school miler and he graduated from Purcell in 1947.


Back then most runners, estimated at 99.9%, when they left high school, gave up the sport because the opportunities to continue running were scarce. Bob however, enrolled at the University of Cincinnati in the College of Engineering (later he transferred to the College of Business) and proceeded that first year to join the freshman cross-country and track and field teams, which were guided by long time coach, Oliver Nikoloff.

Photo taken in Nippert Stadium during his first cross-country season at UC

He continued running cross-country for four years.

Start of Mid-American Conference meet in Cincinnati during his sophomore year at Avon Golf Course on Reading Road near Paddock Road. MacVeigh is the fourth runner from the left.

Perhaps one of his biggest achievements, certainly an unusual accomplishment, at UC occurred prior to the start of his second year of outdoor track for the Bearcats. Don Berg, who ran at St. X and was a far superior 440 runner than Bob in high school, and MacVeigh established a two-man team representing the campus Newman Center as they took on the larger fraternities in the annual indoor intramural track and field championships.  The competition took place at the old gymnasium just south of Nippert Stadium. At the time there was an indoor track hanging above the basketball floor. It was 18 and 3/4 laps to a mile.

Indoor Track at UC

This event was a big deal to the Greeks because points gained here counted towards the coveted All-University Trophy. Bob took care of the longer events as he won the 440, 880, and mile while Don sprinted to second places in the 100, 220, and 440.  Between the two of them, much to the chagrin of the fraternity brothers, they, as a team, came out on top.

During his first two track seasons in college, the coach had him competing as a middle-distance runner, mile and 880, similar to what he did at Purcell. At times he was also a member of the mile relay. Bob won a mile race against Kentucky, but his times were progressively getting slower and he was becoming discouraged.  

MacVeigh wanted to contest the open 440, but coach Nikoloff ruled against that.  However, once the school season ended, Bob took the opportunity to run the 440 at the June 2 Metropolitan Cincinnati AAU meet at Withrow Stadium. His time of 50.1 eclipsed the local AAU meet record formerly held by Ted Corbitt. 

Results of AAU meet at Withrow High School

Two days later the Ohio AAU meet was to take place at Welcome Stadium in Dayton. Top competition always appeared here.  On a sloppy slow surface, Bob placed second in the 440 behind Mal Whitfield, the previous year’s Olympic 800 gold medalist. With those performances Coach Nikoloff agreed that perhaps Bob was a sprinter. As a result, contrary to the norm, Bob made the unusual transition of gravitating from longer to shorter distances while in college rather than moving in the opposite direction.

Now, as a 440-yard specialist, he met with a great deal of success during his final two years of college eligibility. He led the team in points scored and did well in the championship All-Ohio and Mid-American Conference meets. 

A victorious MacVeigh

Miami’s team was very strong during this period of time. Bob, and their ace 440 runner, Roger Moore, had a number of thrilling races against one another.

MacVeigh versus Roger Moore (Hughes graduate)

The University school record for the 440-yard dash had lasted 18 years before he bested it. Bob's time of 48.6, during his fourth and last year of eligibility, put him on top of that record board. His own mark remained unbroken for an additional 18 years. 

Shoe worn by MacVeigh when he set his UC school record.

In 1951, also at Welcome Stadium in the Ohio AAU Meet, he placed third behind Herb McKenley, the Jamaican 1948 400 meter gold medalist and world record holder.

World record holder and Olympic champion Herb McKenley on left

McKenley leading at the 220 mark.  MacVeigh is third.

During the mid 20th century, few individuals ran and trained throughout the year.  Once again, Bob was a contrarian.  He, along with 1949 Hughes High School graduate Don Wahle, who entered UC and joined the Bearcat’s cross-country and track and field teams, established a lifelong friendship through their running. Bob recalls being out for evening workouts with Don – nobody legitimately did this in the early 1950s.  Once a suspicious policeman stopped them and demanded an explanation as to what they were actually up to.

L-R  Bob MacVeigh, Don Wahle

Bob's four years of eligibility to compete for the Bearcats ended in 1951.  Between transferring colleges and performing co-op stints for his business courses, he did not graduate from UC until 1953.

It was estimated earlier that 99.9% of high school runners ceased running upon graduation. If an individual ran in college, he definitely stopped when that concluded.  Not Bob. In 1952 he participated as an open athlete in a number of college meets. Although he had the necessary marks to qualify for the Olympic Trials, he lacked the funds to enable him to travel to the meet in California. With little hope of making the team, he chose not to engage in the Trials. 

This inability to go to the Trials did not dull his interest in the sport.  He continued running and competing.  One of the few available local opportunities was the annual Irish Day Meet, which was held each summer at Coney Island. 

August 17, 1953 Irish Day Results

Upon graduation from UC he began a short-lived career as an accountant, but in September of that year Uncle Sam drafted him into the Army. Bob refers to his two years in the service as a very good period of his life. He met a diverse group of people for the first time and he was able to continue training and competing with the Army track and field team. 

Shortly after leaving the service in 1955 he formed the Cincinnati Track Club. A group like this was unusual and the Cincinnati Track Club foreshadowed later organizations like the Ohio Valley Track Club and the Clifton Track Club. Among the top athletes on the team were Nick Kitt, a Purcell and Miami graduate who excelled in the distances. Kitt  competed internationally for USA teams.

Another top athlete on the on the club team was sprinter/hurdler Scott Tyler. Scott was a Hughes High School graduate who in 1958 set the State Record for the 180-yard low hurdles in the District Meet in Cincinnati. His time was 19.0.  After leaving Hughes he attended Miami University. One year he placed second in the NCAA Championships.

It was typical for six to eight athletes, representing the Cincinnati Track Club, to travel to meets in Kentucky, West Virginia, Indiana and elsewhere. Bob’s large automobile provided the transportation and afterwards his wife would type the race results. This was another fond period of his life.

He began working for Federated Department Stores upon leaving the Army. In June of 1960 he was transferred to Boston. Without Bob's guidance, the Cincinnati Track Club disbanded shortly thereafter.

While in Boston, Bob became very involved with the Boston Athletic Association. The BAA is the sponsoring organization for the Boston Marathon. He also became very good friends with Jock Semple, a leader of the BAA.

Mac maintained contact with the few post-college graduates that continued running in the Cincinnati area.  Don Wahle, Howard Hughes, and Kent Friel (all former Bearcats) started up a series of track competitions among themselves, since no other local opportunities existed.  Bob became the fourth member of this group as he mailed in his results.  This humble beginning morphed into the Ohio Valley Games and Summer Meets, which continued for over thirty years.

Scoring of races among themselves

Road racing, unlike in the rest of the country, was quite popular in the northeast.  During his time in Massachusetts, Bob concentrated on distance running. He ran the Boston Marathon 11 times. In the 70s MacVeigh helped form the BAA Masters Team and while doing so he began to gravitate back to the shorter distances.  In 1972 he, along with over 40 others, went with a USA master’s team to participate in a number of meets in Europe. It was at this time that he placed eighth in the World Master’s Championship.

After a number of years in Boston, Bob returned to Cincinnati to continue working with Federated in the home office. The Heart Mini Marathon was in the conceptual stage at this time. Bob, with his road racing experiences gained back east, was the logical choice to be the race director for the early editions of the Heart Mini Marathon. His contacts enabled the Heart Mini to bring to Cincinnati notable Boston area runners like Bill Rodgers and Patty Catalano.

MacVeigh and Melanie Stinson

Bob has remained active with the local running scene in a variety of capacities ever since.  He still loves the sport.  Over his career he wasn’t afraid to chart his own unique path.  Many followed his example and our area is richer as a result.

Bob is 87 years old and currently dealing with some medical issues.

Bob MacVeigh

Sunday, October 16, 2016

V.1 #47 Local History Timeline: 1910-1915; Table of Contents: #1-47


High school, club, and college competitions did well during the years leading up to America’s entry into World War I.  Indoor facilities, like those in the annex to Music Hall and the Armory on Freeman Avenue helped make indoor track and field to be quite popular. 

Teams representing the Cincinnati Gymnasium and Athletic Club (the Gym and now the Cincinnati Athletic Club) ruled.  During this period, UC’s track team had the first black athlete to participate in any sport at the University.

A number of local high school athletes set indoor state records.  Harry Martin did this on numerous occasions.

High School – Ohio state record
Indoor 60 yard Low Hurdles 30”
7 3/5-        Harry Martin-Cincinnati Woodward-2-12-10-Cincy Music Hall Skating Rink

Here is an example of a trophy cup that was won at an indoor meet.  The inscription is the following:
Intercollegiate Relay
Hotel Honing Trophy
Celts Open Athletic Meet
Feb. 12, 1910

Won by
University of Cincinnati
Time 3 Min. 56 Secs.
Arthur L. Helbig. Capt.
W. Franklin Mitchell
Ellis McNelly.
Frederick W. Howell
Alfred Brodbeck. Trainer

UC competed in an intercollegiate meet against Miami (OH) and Butler University.  Johnson was manager.

The club meets often featured a combination of adult and junior competitions.  While some of the events would seem modern, others would appear quaint or archaic.  The program scheduled for League Park on May 7, 1910 included a 400-yard relay for public school boys, a half-mile interscholastic relay and a “potato race” for up to 16 year olds.  In addition to several events open to all, including fungo long distance hitting, running broad jump and tug of war, the meet also featured a 1-mile open senior relay race for members of athletic clubs, YMCA’s and universities.

High School – Ohio state record
Indoor 50-Yard Dash
5 4/5-        Harry Martin-Cincinnati Woodward-2-18-11-1st Regiment Carnival at Cincinnati Armory

Indoor 60 yard Low Hurdles 30”
7 2/5-        Harry Martin-Cincinnati Woodward-2-18-11-1st Regiment Carnival, Cincinnati Armory

Cincinnati Armory on Freeman Avenue

UC’s Track Team Becomes Integrated
Ralph Belsinger, nicknamed "eight stride," became the first African-American track member and athlete in any sport at UC. He would run until 1915. Belsinger anchored relay teams and ran the mile.  After graduating with a degree in education, he taught in the Cincinnati public schools for four decades.
Manager was James W. Pottenger. Barr was Captain. 

 UC Relay Team

In June the Commercial Club Indiana’s Athletic Committee invited the Gym to send a team to their track meet.  By mid-1911 it was clear that the Gym’s blue and white team was among the best in the nation. Some of the top local meets at the time consisted of:
The First Regiment’s indoor carnival (February)
The Gym’s annual intramural “blue ribbon” meet.
The GCAC’s annual Mid-Summer meet and Carnival of Athletics, the club’s traditional open track and field meet (June) held on their own athletic property.

This last meet was one of the premier meets in the region.  Teams from all over the Midwest attended, including Notre Dame, champions of the Midwest Conference.  More than 300 athletes entered in 1911.  Local athletes represented the University of Cincinnati, Christ Church, Celts, YMCA, First Regiment, and the Friar’s Club as they tried to upend the Gym. They failed to stop the Gym’s juggernaut that more than doubled the score of the second place UC team.

High School – Ohio state record
Indoor 50-Yard Dash
5 4/5-        Harry Martin-Cincinnati Woodward-3-2-12-1st Regiment Carnival at Cincinnati Armory

Indoor 440 Yards – Small
57 2/5-      Harry Martin-Cincinnati Woodward-3-1-12-1st Regiment Carnival, Cincinnati Armory

Indoor High Jump
6’-     George Stotsbury-Cincinnati Hughes-3-2-12-1st Regiment Carnival, Cincinnati Armory

This group was hailed as one of the strongest team in the Midwest. They set nine new state records in the dual meet against Kentucky College. The relay team beat Miami (OH), Ohio State, and Ohio Wesleyan during the Y.M.C.A. Carnival Meet.

Cincinnati finished third in both the Y.M.C.A and the Cincinnati Amateur Athletic Federation (C.A.A.F) meets. UC prevailed over the Gym, 39 to 37, by winning the last event, the pole vault, at the Gym’s annual June carnival.

The Gym (Cincinnati Athletic Club) reorganized its walking club.  The walking club regularly took long distance walks to such locations as Independence, Kentucky.  The club planned to “take long walks every Sunday, rain, snow or shine.”

It was becoming customary for organizations to request reimbursement for travel and lodging expenses when traveling to other meets.

The Gym prepared athletes to attend the Central Olympic Trials. They were held on June 8 in Evanston (Chicago). Selections from three trials sites helped determine the team for the 1912 Games that were to be held in Stockholm.  Those preparing were:
         Lovell Draper, long distances
         Myron Johnson, 440
         Fred Holder, 880
         Ed Stephenson, pole vault
         Raynor Allen, hurdler, jumps (high, broad, and hop, step, and jump)

The ­Post talked about Lovell Draper as a potential sub 5:00 miler.  Ed Stephenson had vaulted 11’6”, and Raynor Allen had jumped 5’9”.

Another top athlete of the day was Harry Martin, a black sprinter and hurdler who the Post called “the speed marvel of Woodward.”  Martin had allegedly equaled the world’s record for the 50-yard indoor hurdles.  No record could be found regarding their accomplishments at the Trials and no local athlete made the Olympic Team.

1500 rabid fans that cheered for their respective teams, shaking rattles and cowbells, and creating “more than enough noisy encouragement” for the teams, attended the First Regiment Ohio National Guard’s indoor athletic carnival at the Armory.  The top three were the Gym, Ohio State University, and the University of Cincinnati.

The meet was notable for several technological innovations.  Instead of announcing the results by megaphone, results were flashed on a screen using a “stereopticon machine.”  The First Regiment’s planners also installed a telephone line between the playing floor and the locker room area “allowing contestants to rest until the event in which they were entered was ready to be run.”

There is mention of a Memorial Day race from Mt. Lookout to the 7th and Walnut Cincinnati YMCA building. 

Due to a late spring flooding, the Gym’s athletic facilities were still covered in mud as of May 31, when the club planned their annual track meet.  It was cancelled and, since this was the only outdoor meet scheduled that year; it was the first time since 1890 that Cincinnati had no athletic meeting.

Amateur sports had disputes between the local organizations and the national Amateur Athletic Union (AAU).  The locals felt that their dues, which they sent to the national organization in New York, did not translate into a commensurate return to them.  In addition, there was talk of disallowing local individuals to compete because they were deemed as professionals (a hot topic after Jim Thorpe lost his two gold medals, which he won at Stockholm, due to playing baseball a few years earlier and earning some money).  William “Dutch” Goebel, a 39’ shot putter and Lovell Draper were investigated. In the end, no one was blacklisted for past actions.

High School – Ohio state record
Indoor Pole Vault
9’6”-             Costello-Cincinnati Walnut Hills-3-7-14-YMCA Carnival, Cincinnati Armory

Indoor 50-Yard Dash
5 4/5-        L. Schrimper-Cincinnati Woodward-3-14-14-CAAF Carnival at Cincinnati Armory

Indoor 880 Yards - small
2:17.0-            Nieman-Cincinnati Walnut Hills-3-7-14-YMCA Carnival, Cincinnati Armory

Indoor Shot Put
40’8 1/2”-           Knabe-Cincinnati Hughes-3-7-14-YMCA Carnival, Cincinnati Armory

By 1914, the number of athletic clubs in the Greater Cincinnati area was approaching several hundred.  Each fielded teams in one or more sports.  Some were affiliated with the national or regional branches of the AAU and local sports bodies like the Cincinnati Amateur Athletic Federation (CAAF).  Others remained independent and unregulated.  The AAU and the CAAF did manage to bring some order to some of the sports, but they failed to settle amateur athletics as a whole.  Additionally, they had no power to force the various organizations to cooperate financially, which hurt competition locally and limited the development of Cincinnati’s athletes.

Adolph Mathis of the Times-Star complained that there was not a single banked indoor track in Cincinnati.  The indoor meets at the First Regiment Armory were run on flat floors.  Since the First Regiment was understandably reluctant to allow the runners to wear spikes, this led to a lot of slipping and sliding and slow times.  The subject periodically arose, but finances (or lack of) always prevailed.

The Gym’s walking club, established before the turn of the century, reached new heights of.  The club, with 25 members, continued its fall and winter outings during the period.  A typical stroll included a daylong hike.  For most members, walking was a casually uncompetitive avocation. 

High School – Ohio state record
Indoor 50-Yard Dash
5 4/5-        E.J. Ertel-Cincinnati Hughes-2-27-15-YMCA Carnival at Cincinnati Armory

Indoor 880 Yards - small
2:09 2/5-   R. Hartley-Cincinnati Hughes-2-27-15-YMCA Carnival, Cincinnati Armory

It was reported that the Cincinnati Amateur Athletic Federation promoted three ‘very successful’ indoor track and field meets and 315 athletes had registered with the CAAF.

During the summer a team of Cincinnati athletes attended a series of meets in the Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco held during July and August. S. Whitcomb, who competed in the high and low hurdles, decathlon star, Fred Stormer, and miler Harry Gardewing were among the contingent.  The Cincinnati team finished seventh overall and Gardewing finished third in the mile.

This could have been considered the best team in history (up to this point), but events were limited due to the war. UC won all the local indoor meets, but lost to Ohio University. No outdoor meets were scheduled.

Coach Alfred “King” Brodbeck, who came from the Cincinnati Gymnasium and Athletic Club (Gym) was there until 1916. He resigned and left for Miami University after apparently some disputes with Dr. Charles William Dabney, the UC President.

 Table of Contents of Previous Blogs  #s 1-47

V.1  #1     An Abridged Edition of Greater Cincinnati Running During the 20th Century.

V.1  #2     Memories from the First Heart Mini-Marathon

V.1  #3    Behind the Scenes Action at the First Heart Mini-Marathon

V.1  #4     Early Heart Mini Memories

V.1  #5     Being a Heart Mini Race Volunteer  by Mark Jones

V.1  #6     Run and Walk History of the First Two Decades of the 20th Century

V.1  #7     The Rise of Team Generic

V.1  #8     Origins of The Runners' Club of Greater Cincinnati

V.1  #9     Pure Kentucky

V.1  #10   Some Notes on the Origin of the Flying Pig Marathon and How It Grew

V.1  #11   How Did the Actual Flying Pig Race Go?

V.1  #12   Local Top Ten Finishers at the Boston Marathon

V.1  #13   Area Marathons that Preceded the Flying Pig (Part 1 of 3)

V.1  #14   Area Marathons that Preceded the Flying Pig (Part 2 of 3)

V.1  #15   Area Marathons that Preceded the Flying Pig (Part 3 of 3)

V.1  #16    Facts about the University of Cincinnati Track & Field and Cross Country Part 1 of 3; 1892-1949

V.1  #17   Facts about the University of Cincinnati Track & Field and Cross Country Programs (Part 2 of 3; 1950-1975)

V.1  #18   Facts about the University of Cincinnati Track & Field and Cross Country Programs (Part 3 of 3; 1975-1999)

V.1  #19   You Know You Have Been Running For Quite A While If …

V.1  #20   The Way It Was -  How Were Distance Runners Viewed in the 1960s Prior to the Running Boom?

V.1 #21     Memorial Day Race 40 - What Was a 40 Year Old Race Like?

V.1  #22   Cincinnati’s Non-Traditional or Unique Races

V.1  #23   The First Girls Pole Vault Competition In Ohio

V.1  #24   Local Walking Clubs Early in the Century

V.1  #25   Locals Who Accomplished Extraordinary Ultra Feats

V.1  #26   Cincinnati’s Indoor Track Palace in the Early Part of the Century

V.1  #27   You Know You Have Been Running For Quite Awhile If You Remember... (Part 2)

V.1  #28   World Record Holder Races In Cincinnati

V.1  #29   The Running Scene in Cincinnati in 1930

V.1  #30     The Way It Was - Entry Fee Inflation

V.1  #31    Don Wahle – A Local Running Legend.  The Early Years

V.1  #32   Don Wahle – A Local Running Legend (Part 2)

V.1  #33  The Way It Was – 70s and 80s When Do You Hang ‘Em Up?

V.1  #34   Charles Anderson Passes Away

V.1  #35     Blog History Table of Contents - #1-#34

V.1  #36     Ted Corbitt:  The Father of American Distance Running (Part 1)

V.1  #37     Ted Corbitt - The Father of American Distance Running (Part 2)

V.1  #38     Avondale Running Club - The Area's First African-American Road Running Group

V.1.  #39     Before Jesse Owens There Was DeHart Hubbard

V.1  #40     Olympic Discus Champion - John Anderson

V.1  #41     Jesse Owens’ Shadow – “Sam Stoller”

V.1  #42     Ted Corbitt's Olympic Experience

V.1  #43     Julie Isphording – 1984 Olympic Marathoner

V.1  #44     Olympian D'Andre Hill - the Fastest Woman Ever Born in Cincinnati

V.1  #45     Running and Walking History from the mid-1800s through 1909

V.1  #46     Jay Birmingham - USA Transcontinental Run Record Holder

V.1  #47     Local History Timeline:  1910-1915; Table of Contents:  #1-47