During the Christmas recess we found ourselves bombarded with dozens of stories claiming 1962 was a "great year" in the world of sports. A little investigation revealed that 1961, 1960, 1959, 1958 and numerous other years were also great for sports fans, but from the overwhelming evidence put forth by scribes across the land, we had little choice but to go along with the consensus and record 1962 as truly amazing in our book.
In their listings of the stupendous events of the 1962, however, none of the sportswriters adequately recalled the feats of Harvard's athletes, so we would be remiss in our obligations if we did not join in the annual year-end reminiscences.
1962 was not a great year in Harvard sports, but it was excellent, and more than a few thrills were experienced by local fans. In our judgment, the swimming team's one point victory over Yale was the highlight of the athletic year, and perhaps the finest performance by a Harvard team of any variety in several years.
Drama in the Pool
The victory, achieved in Yale's own pool, ended 24 years of Eli domination in Eastern swimming, and gave Harvard a perfect dual meet record for the season. Expert coaching by Bill Brooks, and some unexpectedly spectacular individual performances produced the upset. It is hard to forget the drama of the final individual event--the breaststroke. With the score Harvard 40, Yale 39, a Crimson sweep was the only chance Harvard had, as Yale was assured of seven points in freestyle relay. Bill Chadsey of the Crimson seemed a good bet for first, but the Elis were positive their own Jerry Yurow was a certain second.
When John Pringle stepped up on the block, the Bulldogs gasped in amazement. The Crimson junior had already won two exhausting races and hadn't swum the breaststroke all year. He was still too much for the vaunted Yurow, however, touching out the Bulldog by a tenth of a second.
A Homeric Victory
A week before the swimming triumph, the Crimson squash team recorded what coach Jack Barnaby termed a "homeric victory" when it edged Yale 5-4 for the Ivy crown and an undefeated season. It was the ninth ranked man on the squad, John Francis, who emerged as the hero of the match. With the team score tied at 4-4, Francis trailed 11-6 in his final game. While Yalies went wild in anticipation of victory, Francis rallied with nine straight points, silencing the Bulldog barks.
The hockey team, sparked by Tim Taylor, Gene Kinasewich, and All-American Dave Johnston, surprised no one by winning the Ivy title, but the season ended with a disappointing third place finish in the ECAC turnament. 1962 was definitely not the year for Harvard basketball, although most years aren't. The wrestlers grunted magnificently, but produced few victories.
In the Spring nearly all Harvard teams made impressive opening sprints, but only the track team, with its upset triumph over the Bulldogs, maintained its momentum. A disastrous weekend with Princeton ended the title quests of the lacrosse and tennis teams, and the baseball squad, despite the efforts of league batting champion Mike Drummey and some outstanding hurling by Paul Del Rossi, just missed the Eastern crown. The 18-4 record was the best in some time for the diamond team, however, and it included memorable victories over Army and Navy.
Crimson oarsmen had an unhappy Spring. The lightweights relinquished the Eastern championship after five consecutive years of victory, and the heavies were only strong, not all-conquering.
Mullin in 4:06.4
Mark Mullin, winner of the William J. Bingham award, the highest athletic honor at Harvard, ended his distinguished career with a 4:06.4 mile which was more than good enough for the IC4A title and erased the old IC4A mark held by Ron Delany. Two weeks later Mullin led his class at graduation exercises as First Marshal.
A Spring performance that rates a cherished page in our book was Harvard's upset conquest of the National Elephant Racing crown over tough Nevada University and Orange County State College. An impassioned rally on the steps of Widener sparked the team to victory. Harvard's elephant, Sonita, has recently finished filming a movie with Bobby Darin and is currently resting up for the coming racing season.
(We will continue tomorrow with more exciting moments from the 1962 Harvard sports calendar).