GRAPHIC:  University of Chicago Magazine
 

Chicago's Starting Team
WRITTEN BY LESTER MUNSON

The inaugural class of the Athletics Hall of Fame includes 25 men and women with outstanding contributions to intercollegiate sports at Chicago.

Some of the people at the luncheon table in the Quadrangle Club were familiar: a couple vice presidents, a dean, and a department head. But two were harder to recognize. They were older guys, and their table echoed with stories of championships, of beating Michigan, of being named All-Americans.

Others in the club began to realize who they were. As they left the dining room and headed for the stairs, many approached the two men, saying hello, shaking their hands, thrilled to be meeting the greatest football and basketball players who ever wore the Chicago C. A few asked Jay Berwanger, AB’36, and Bill Haarlow, X’36, for autographs.

The main topic at that spring 1998 lunch had been a different kind of recognition. As part of the planning for what is now the Gerald Ratner Athletics Center, the group talked of the University’s rich history in intercollegiate sports—and conceived the Chicago Athletics Hall of Fame as a way to acknowledge student-athletes of surpassing excellence.

Berwanger and Haarlow were two of those exemplars, establishing University standards in Big 10 competition that would never be matched. Berwanger, the first winner of the Heisman trophy as college football’s best player in 1935, was enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame. Haarlow, a two-time All-American, once held the Big 10 basketball scoring record.

Although everyone agreed that a Hall of Fame was a terrific way for Chicago to reconnect with its athletic past, they knew it would be a challenge. A quick glance back showed a parade of Olympians, All-Americans, and coaches with epic records. How would you select among them? And how would you compare the exploits of Big 10 stars like Berwanger and Haarlow with the Division III athletes of recent years?

In 110 years of athletics, Chicago sports has moved from a national powerhouse to an extracurricular program offering individual fitness, intramural and club sports, and successful intercollegiate teams. It’s been a noteworthy transition, marked by the death of big-time football in 1935 when Robert Maynard Hutchins withdrew the University from the Big 10, its small-scale revival in 1969, and the rapid growth of women’s sports sparked by Title IX, enacted in 1972.

With such dramatic changes come some issues. Veterans of the powerhouse era tend to see the Division III students as lacking in athletic achievement, while the current crop tends to see the Big 10 athletes as lacking in scholarly achievement. If there were athlete-students then, there is no doubt that today the University is committed to the student-athlete. “We advocate strongly a tradition of amateur athletics undertaken by professional students,” says John W. Boyer, AM’69, PhD’75, dean of the College, “not amateur students pursuing professional athletics.”

What had been a big-time sports program is now a big program in a different way. In 2002–03 the College intramural schedule featured 340 teams in sports including basketball and Frisbee. Club sports attracted more than 800 student, faculty, and staff athletes to sports such as lacrosse, crew, and the martial arts. And more than 400 men and women competed in 275 contests at the Division III level. Four teams finished among the top 25 in postseason NCAA competition, and two others won conference championships. Individual honors included a national player of the year, nine All-Americans, 10 national qualifiers, and 67 all-conference performers.

So when the idea of a Hall of Fame became reality in October 2000, the first task—setting up a structure to combine the student-athletes of today and the athlete-students of the Big 10 era into a single group—went to Michael Klingensmith, AB’75, MBA’76, a University trustee and and former Chicago Maroon sportswriter. The guidelines committee, Klingensmith says, “managed to find a fine balance of views on how to deal with current athletes and the stars of the earlier era.”

Hall of Fame candidates, the committee decided, would be evaluated within their own eras, their records measured against what others in similar competition were doing across the nation. The group also established a selection process featuring heavy involvement of alumni who played intercollegiate sports at Chicago. And the Hall of Fame bylaws allow recognition of Chicagoans “who have contributed to the development of intercollegiate athletics.”

Guidelines in place, it was time to select the first class. “It was difficult in a number of ways,” says selection committee chair John Phelps Davey, AB’61, JD’62, a former basketball star. “We wanted to have balance, we wanted to be fair to the different eras, and we wanted the selections to mean something.”

Nominations poured in from alumni of all ages in all sports. Committee members labored to keep track of 160 nominations and supporting materials in heavy three-ring notebooks. Meetings often went into overtime, with the final one lasting six hours as the members struggled to select an inaugural class of 24 inductees (in the end, they cheated a bit, electing a pair of tennis-playing twins in tandem for a total of 25).

With Berwanger and Haarlow leading the list, the first Hall of Fame class bows deeply toward the earlier Maroon era. Of the 25 inductees, 11 athletes and four coaches performed in the 1920s and ’30s. No athlete is from the 1950s or ’60s, and just five competed after 1974. Only one male athlete after World War II and before 1991 made the group: Olympic fencer Leon Strauss, PhB’47.

Of the 20 men and five women, 14, including Berwanger, who died last year, were chosen posthumously. Eight played football—a remarkable number for a school with no football team from 1939 to 1969; four inductees were already enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame. Seven played basketball, five baseball. Four excelled in multiple sports. Other sports represented are swimming, gymnastics, track, tennis, fencing, wrestling, softball, and volleyball.

The largest number of inductees are coaches, many stars in their sports at Chicago. They include the legendary Amos Alonzo Stagg; Fritz Crisler, PhB’22, who began his football coaching career at Chicago and moved to University of Michigan, reaching iconic status; Edward “Ted” Haydon, PhB’33, AM’54, whose University of Chicago Track Club became a national force; and basketball coach Joseph “Big Joe” Stampf, AB’41, who led a Maroon team to the small-college final four.

Of inductees who “contributed to the development of intercollegiate athletics,” former athletic director Mary Jean Mulvaney tops the list. Mulvaney came to the quads in 1966, and her 24-year record had a series of firsts: first female athletic director of a coeducational program, first woman to serve on an NCAA general committee, and first anywhere to develop a women’s athletic scholarship—named for an early women’s athletic director at Chicago, Gertrude Dudley, also an inaugural inductee.

Mulvaney’s greatest achievement may be the founding of the University Athletic Association (UAA). Composed of eight major research universities—Chicago, NYU, Johns Hopkins, Emory, Case Western, Carnegie Mellon, Rochester, and Washington University—the UAA has become the model for what college sports can be when academics and athletics are put into proper balance.

In Reclaiming the Game: College Sports and Educational Values (Princeton, 2003) former Princeton president William G. Bowen analyzes the difficulties inherent in such a balancing act. Citing the UAA as the one conference able to “mount what is a successful intercollegiate program without paying the academic price,” he singles out Chicago for special praise: “The active involvement of the University of Chicago, with its emphasis on core academic values, has without question been a help in achieving and maintaining this policy.” It was Mulvaney’s leadership and tenacity, with powerful support from then University president Hanna H. Gray, that created the 1987 union whose synergy is now the envy of academicians and thoughtful coaches everywhere.

For Berwanger and Haarlow the reality of a Hall of Fame in a new athletic center must have been a sweet moment. As early as 1975 they were at working to improve the fieldhouse (the Maroon report on their efforts was edited by Mike Klingensmith). Thanks to their tenacity and the generosity of Gerald Ratner, PhB’35, JD’37, the new center houses the Chicago Athletic Hall of Fame, established under guidelines devised by Klingensmith—and offering Berwanger and Haarlow as featured attractions.


Lester E. Munson Jr. JD’67, is an associate editor at Sports Illustrated, where he specializes in legal affairs and investigations. He is also a longtime University of Chicago sports fan.

First-round picks

Quick stats on the inaugural class of the Chicago Athletics Hall of Fame, inducted October 10 as part of Homecoming 2003.

J. Kyle Anderson, PhB’28, SB’28, starred in baseball from 1926 to 1928. After playing for the Pittsburgh Pirates organization, he returned to campus as head baseball coach (1934–71). A member of the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame, he coached the U.S. team in the 1959 Pan American Games.

C. Noel Bairey Merz, AB’77, was voted the most valuable player for the Chicago swim team two years in a row. At the 1977 national championships, she finished in the top four in three different freestyle events.

Frank A. Baker II, AB’94, earned Division III All-American and Academic All-American football honors in 1993 when he ran for 1,606 yards, a University record. All-conference in the UAA for three years, he holds the record for most career yards (4,283).

Jay Berwanger, AB’36, was a triple threat on the football field. He averaged 4.2 yards per carry running the ball, 18.4 yards per pass completion, and 37.3 yards on his punts. In a poll of more than 100 Big 10 players, all but three voted Berwanger the conference’s best halfback. His senior-year, 85-yard dash against Ohio State remains one of the great runs in college football. The No. 1 draft pick in the NFL’s first draft, he was courted by George Halas and the Chicago Bears—but they were unwilling to meet his $25,000 asking price. Also a track star, Berwanger ran the 100 in 10.0 seconds, the 120-yard hurdles in 15.6 seconds and the 440 in 49.0 seconds. He pole vaulted 12 feet and threw the shot put 48 feet and the javelin 190 feet. Although he would have been a gold-medal favorite in the Olympic decathlon, he stayed in school to graduate on schedule.

Erwin “Bud” Beyer, AB’39, captained the gymnastics team from 1936 to 1938, winning four gold medals in national collegiate competitions. In the 1940s and ’50s he coached Maroon gymnastics, and in 1948 he coached the U.S. women’s Olympic team. He also developed Acrotheatre, a popular combination of gymnastics, ballet, and the circus that made the cover of Life.

Fritz Crisler, PhB’22, won nine letters in three sports, was All-Big 10 in football and basketball, and captained the Maroon baseball team. As Michigan’s coach (1938–47) he compiled a 71-16-3 record, introduced the two-platoon system, and took the Wolverines to a national championship.

Gertrude Dudley was director of physical culture for women from 1898 to 1935, developing popular intramural programs in basketball, field hockey, baseball, and tennis.

Walter Eckersall, X’07, starred as a running back, kicker, and defensive player from 1904 to 1906. A member of the College Football Hall of Fame, he was named to Walter Camp’s “All-Time All-America Team” as one of the greatest college football players during the sport’s formative years.

Raymond H. Ellinwood, X’45, set a world indoor-track record at his first intercollegiate meet in 1936. A Big 10 conference champion, indoor and outdoor, in the 440- and 880-yard runs, he finished fifth in the quarter mile in the national championships.

Gretchen Gates Kelly, AB’86, is the all-time leading scorer (1,924 points) and rebounder (1,056) in Maroon women’s basketball. All-conference for four years and an All-American, she holds 11 career, season, and game records.

William Haarlow, X’36, played on losing basketball teams for three years and faced double teams throughout the Big 10, but still managed to rank among the conference scoring leaders for three years. The All-American was a deadly shooter from the outside and a great one-on-one player, with moves and flash that were years ahead of their time.

Edward “Ted” Haydon, PhB’33, AM’54, captained the track team in 1933 and was a national qualifier in the javelin. Head track coach from 1950 to 1975, he formed the University of Chicago Track Club, which became a haven for world-class athletes. A member of the U.S. Track and Field Hall of Fame, Haydon coached numerous international teams, including the Pan American Games and the Olympics.

Roy K. Henshaw, X’33, pitched for the University from 1930 to 1932. The All-American went on to pitch in the big leagues for eight years (three with the Chicago Cubs) on National League teams that never finished below third place. His best year was 1933, when he won 13 and lost five with an ERA of 3.26—helping the Cubs into a World Series against the Detroit Tigers (the Cubs lost in six games). He played on Cubs teams with Gabby Hartnett, Stan Hack, Billy Herman, Chuck Klein, and Phil Cavaretta. Henshaw pitched more than 700 innings in his major league career and left with an ERA of 4.16.

George M. Lott Jr., X’28, won Big 10 singles and doubles tennis championships for Chicago in 1929. A member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, he played on Davis Cup teams and won doubles titles at Wimbledon, the French Open, the U.S. Open, and nearly 40 other international championships.

Mary Jean Mulvaney served Chicago’s athletic program from 1966 until her 1990 retirement. Under her leadership, women’s programs grew, gaining national attention. She orchestrated the formation of the University Athletic Association.

Chester W. Murphy, AB’39, and William E. Murphy, AB’39, twin brothers who won Big 10 doubles championships in 1938 and 1939, are entering the Hall of Fame as a tandem team.

Nelson H. Norgren, PhB’14, was the first Big 10 athlete to win 12 varsity letters in four sports (1911–14). Norgren—who was All-American in football, was all-conference in basketball and baseball, and participated in track—returned to campus in 1921, serving as head coach in basketball and baseball for more than 30 years.

Harlan “Pat” Page, SB’10, starred on Big 10 conference champion teams in three sports. An end on the football team, a guard on the basketball team, and a pitcher for the baseball team, he later coached baseball and basketball, taking the Maroons to Big 10 titles in both sports.

Laura Silvieus, AB’78, MBA’83, won 12 varsity letters in three sports (1973–77). Elected captain on ten of her 12 teams, she earned MVP honors in volleyball (1975, 1976) and basketball (1977). In softball she ranks among the University’s top three for hitting, runs batted in, and stolen bases—hitting .493 with 30 RBIs in 20 games as the Maroons won a 1977 championship. Silvieus was the first recipient of the Gertrude Dudley Medal, now awarded annually to the top female student-athlete.

Amos Alonzo Stagg served as head football coach and director of the Department of Physical Culture from 1892 to 1932. His football teams were national powers, winning seven Big 10 conference championships and compiling a record of 242 wins, 112 losses, and 27 ties. Responsible for countless cutting-edge ideas—including the forward pass, numbered jerseys, and tackle dummies—that became football mainstays, Stagg was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame both as a player and a coach, and the NCAA has named its Division III championship game the Stagg Bowl.

Joseph H. “Big Joe” Stampf, AB’41, played basketball from 1938 to 1941, winning the Big 10 scoring title in 1941. With the best win record of any U of C coach—208 victories and a winning percentage of .638—he led the Maroons to 13 winning seasons in 18 years, taking teams to the NCAA College Division quarter-finals in 1961 and to the tournament’s first round in 1974.

Walter P. Steffen, PhB’10, JD’12, a member of the College Football Hall of Fame, led the Maroons to two Big 10 titles as quarterback in 1907 and 1908. All-conference from 1906 through 1908 and a consensus All-American in 1908, he is considered one of the great quarterbacks in college football’s early era.

Leon F. Strauss, PhB’47, fenced in the épée and foil, leading Chicago to second place in the nation in 1947. The All-American competed for the 1948 and 1952 U.S. Olympic teams.

Peter B. Wang, AB’92, earned All-American honors four straight years as a wrestler. Named Division III’s outstanding wrestler in 1992, he won individual NCAA titles in 1991 and 1992 in the 177-pound weight class.

 


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