Archives Diary: B.C. Track in the Early 20th Century

Photo of the Two Mile Relay Team from the 1924 Sub Turri.

Photo of the Two Mile Relay Team from the 1924 Sub Turri.

Boston College has long been known for its athletic teams and their accomplishments.  Be it the football team’s success over the years in Bowl games, the men’s NCAA hockey championships or the baseball team’s participation in the longest NCAA baseball game in history, BC is known for it athletic success.  What some may not know, however, is just how far back BC’s record of athletic excellence goes.  Football, hockey, baseball and basketball tend to get the most press and hype but in BC’s early years it was not these teams that garnered the most success.

Boston College’s 1924 Track team: NEICAA Champions.

Boston College’s 1924 Track team: NEICAA Champions.

The Boston College yearbook, Sub Turri, was started in 1913 and for the past 100 years has been chronicling student academic and athletic life.  In preparation for the upcoming sesquicentennial celebration and the publication of the 100th Sub Turri, I have been going through all of the old yearbooks to see how campus and student life has changed and grown over the past 100 years.  The Sub Turri’s show that sports have always been a growing and important part of student life within the BC community.  The older yearbooks dedicated multiple pages to each team outlining the successes of each team’s season through written recaps, pictures and statistics.  The 1931 Sub Turri lists, to date, all of BC’s athletic accomplishments.  The football team won the Eastern Intercollegiate Football Championship in 1920 and the Outstanding Championship Team award in 1928.  The hockey and baseball teams were intercollegiate champions in 1923 and 1927 respectively.

2400 yard Relay team. Created new world record 1925.

2400 yard Relay team. Created new world record 1925.

The team that stands alone in number of awards and worldwide prestige is the track team.  The Freshman Medley relay team was ICAAA Indoor Champions in 1924, the Two Mile Varsity Relay ICAAAA Indoor Champions in 1923, 1926, 1927 and 1931.  In competition with the other teams in the New England Intercollegiate Amateur Athletic Association (NEICAA), BC prevailed over all in 1924 and tied for first place in 1922 and 1927.  Most prominent, however is the world records that BC relay teams held and the Olympian on the team.  In 1924 the two mile relay team set a new world record, as did the twenty-four hundred yard relay team in 1925 and a member of the class of 1924 was chosen to be a member of the 1924 US Olympic track team.

B.C. athletics trophies, photo from the 1931 Sub Turri.

B.C. athletics trophies, photo from the 1931 Sub Turri.

The 1924 Sub Turri dedicated eight pages to the track team.  That year Jack Ryder, a well-respected and world-renowned track coach, began his job as head coach of the BC track team.  He coached the 1924 men’s two mile relay team to a world record time of 7 minutes 47, and 3/5 seconds.  The team of William T. McKillop, Patrick J. Mahoney, Louis R. Welch and Thomas F. Cavanaugh beat thePennState’s relay team record of 1923 on April 26, 1924 at the College Relay Championship of America.  The next year the twenty-four hundred yard relay team set a new world record with a time of 4 minutes 53 and 3-5 seconds.  George Lermond, a three year member of the Varsity track team, made the U.S. Olympic team in 1924.

To view the Sub Turri’s, click here or visit the Burns Library Reading Room.  To learn more about digital resources available regarding Boston College’s history, please visit this Sesquicentennial Digital Library research guide.

  • Lily Connolly, Undergraduate Research Assistant, Burns Library and A & S Class of 2012

About John J. Burns Library of Rare Books and Special Collections at Boston College

The University’s special collections, including the University’s Archives, are housed in the Honorable John J. Burns Library, located in the Bapst Library Building, north entrance. Burns Library staff work with students and faculty to support learning and teaching at Boston College, offering access to unique primary sources through instruction sessions, exhibits, and programming. The Burns Library also serves the research needs of external scholars, hosting researchers from around the globe interested in using the collections. The Burns Library is home to more than 200,000 volumes and over 700 manuscript collections, including holdings of music, photographic materials, art and artifacts, and ephemera. Though its collections cover virtually the entire spectrum of human knowledge, the Burns Library has achieved international recognition in several specific areas of research, most notably: Irish studies; British Catholic authors; Jesuitica; Fine printing; Catholic liturgy and life in America, 1925-1975; Boston history; the Caribbean, especially Jamaica; Nursing; and Congressional archives.
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