Vanderbilt Athletics

Vandy's Field Day in 1893

May 12, 2010

Vanderbilt vs Cumberland baseball game in 1892 on VU campus.

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May 19, 1893 was a special day on the Vanderbilt campus. It was the annual "Field Day." Vanderbilt athletes and other participants had the opportunity to show their skills in several events. The events were held on the original Dudley Field on the Vanderbilt campus. The Nashville newspaper, The Daily American reported on the special day:
    The soft breeze of summer gently rustled the leaves of the trees which shade the Vanderbilt campus on yesterday afternoon and waved the banners of Vanderbilt to victory. In the baseball game, which she played with Cumberland she trumpeted, and in the majority of the sports the medals were borne off by the wearers of the old gold and black. About 1,200 people were present; chiefly Vanderbilt supporters, and among them, with streaming ribbons and fluttering handkerchiefs, were crowds of pretty girls, who applauded and cheered and were as enthusiastic as the ardent college boy present.

    Not only was the day a perfect one and every event passed off most smoothly, but the doughty athletes knocked the props from out some of its records which former field day contestants had set up and which they meant to stand as monuments to their prowess.

    Seven of these records were smashed and new ones put up in their place. Two of these were made by Goldthwaite, the only contestant sent down from Sewanee. He showed himself to be a runner of pronounced qualities and if properly trained will no doubt make a name for himself as a sprinter.
The day's events began with the "putting of the shot." There were only two entries for the shot put, both Vanderbilt students. Rip Allen won the event over Binford Throne with the longest distance of 32 feet, two inches. The Vanderbilt record was 35 feet, two inches.

Next up was the running high jump also with just two contestants competing. C. Ratcliffe of Vanderbilt, defeated R. L. Smithson of the University of Nashville (Peabody) with a jump of 5 feet, five inches. That leap broke the record of five feet, four inches.

In the 120-yard hurdle race, G. Goldthwaite of Sewanee defeated Vanderbilt's C.R. Baskerville with a time of 18 and one-half seconds. The previous record was 19 and one-half seconds.

The American reported on the 100-yard dash:
    In the 100-yard dash, probably the most exciting event of the day, there were four contestants, G. Goldthwaite, of the University of the South, T.H. Malone, Jr., of Vanderbilt, Vauix Crockett, of Vanderbilt and R. Craig, of Vanderbilt. Goldthwaite won handily in 10 and three-fourths seconds, the others running in the order mentioned. The time lacked three-fourths of a second of reaching the mark made by Pope Taylor, one of the best athletes Vanderbilt ever had at a former Vanderbilt field day. He finished the dash in 10 seconds, very close to the professional record.
The American reported on the bicycle race:
    The one-mile bicycle race resulted in a surprise for the spectators. There were but two contestants, D.A. Edwards, of the University of Nashville, and H. S. Vaughn, of Vanderbilt, and it was in the general opinion that the latter would have a "good thing" in outriding his opponent. Edwards rode in front for the first three laps, but on the fourth, Vaughn passed him without excerption and had succeeded in putting a good strip of daylight between him and his opponent when the two entered the stretch. Here, however, Edwards made a clever and really wonderful spurt, passing Vaughn and winning by a good distance in 3 minutes and 6 seconds. In doing so he broke the Vanderbilt Field day record of 3 minutes 12 seconds, held by C.W. Scarrett, of Vanderbilt.

Vanderbilt tennis house on campus circa 1889.

Rip Allen of Vanderbilt and P. M. McNeil of the University of Nashville competed in the hammer throw. Allen's toss of 72 feet won the match, but fell short of the record of 74 feet, six inches.

In the 440-yard run, W.W. Craig of Vanderbilt beat W.M. Mears from the University of Nashville with a winning time of 55 seconds. That was good enough to beat the old record by two seconds.

The American reported on the pole vault competition:

    The pole vault was the most hotly contested feature of the programme. There were only two participants in this event, but they exhibited such athletic prowess and gameness that the result was for a long time a matter of doubt. L. P. Hanner of Vanderbilt, and G. Goldthwaite of the University of the South, were the vaulters, and the former won after a truly heroic struggle. Hanner is a compactly built little fellow, and only five feet in height and he used a pole only ten feet long. By what seemed an almost superhuman effort, however, he accomplished the feat of clearing the pole notched nine feet nine inches from the ground. Goldthwaite was unable to duplicate the feat, and Hanner was declared the winner, having beaten his former Field day record of 9 feet 6 inches.

    Hanner is in some respects one of the best athletes of Vanderbilt University and, considering his small statue, is somewhat of a prodigy. He deserves much credit for yesterday's showing, having never practiced a single day in the field for the contest. In fact, he had had but five days' training in this work for the past two years. The university will lose him after this year, as he has already completed his course there.
The American gave this report on the mile run:
    At the report of a pistol in the hands of Starter Pope Taylor five starters began the one-mile run. They were: R. A. Weaver, Vanderbilt; C. R. Baskerville, Vanderbilt; F. A. Ruth, University of the South, and W.M Wear, University of Nashville. Two of the contestants dropped out before the run was half over and in the general wind-up Weaver had everything his own way, winning, as it suited him, in 5 minutes and 17 seconds. Had he had anything like competition he would have made much better time. As it was, he considerably lowered the Vanderbilt field day record of 5 minutes 39 seconds held by him last year.
The remaining events were the running broad jump won by W. W. Craig of Vanderbilt with a leap of 19 feet 6 inches. Goldthwaite won the final event in the 220-yard dash in 24 and one-half seconds.

Vanderbilt beating Cumberland 4-0 in a baseball game capped a long day of athletic events on the Vanderbilt campus.

If you have any comments or suggestions you can contact Bill Traughber via e-mail This will be the last Commodore History Corner story for the school year 2009-10.

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