L.S.U. Track Champions Given Rousing Welcome Upon Triumphant Return
LSU Sports Interactive
Officials of City, State and School Greet Four Members of Team; Parade, Banquet Held
Originally published in The Times-Picayune on July 14, 1933
Four members of the record-making Louisiana State university track team, wearers of the national intercollegiate championship crown, were welcomed and feted by the city of New Orleans Friday.
The athletes were Alvin Moreau, captain of the team and winner of second place in the high hurdles and sixth place in the low hurdles; Jack Torrance, who won the shot put event with a heave of 52 feet 10 inches to set a new world’s record; Glen “Slats” Hardin, who broke two world records in winning the 440-yard dash in 47.1 seconds and the low hurdles in 22.9 seconds; and Matthew Gordy, pole vaulter, who never having bettered a height of 13 feet 6 inches, vaulted 14 feet to tie for first place in the last event of the meet to give the Tigers the championship.
Nathan Blair, who placed fourth in the javelin event, did not accompany his teammates to New Orleans for the reception.
The band of L.S.U. athletes drove to Chicago in a car owned by Captain Moreau and, although critics had not conceded them a chance in the meet, bested larger and more experienced teams from practically every large college in the country at Soldiers’ Field on June 17.
Two weeks later they finished second in the National A.A.U. meet, being nosed out by the 25-man team of the powerful New York Athletic Club.
The city’s tribute began at the monument of another hero of the South, General Robert E. Lee, and culminated in a testimonial banquet at The Roosevelt which was attended by several hundred persons.
Escorted by a detail of motorcycle police and a mounted patrol, four bands, including the Standard Oil Band from Baton Rouge, two squads from the Marine Reserve Corps, several automobiles filled with girls chosen from the city’s fairest and scores of enthusiastic admirers, the youths paraded in automobiles from Elk Place on Canal street to St. Charles street to Lee Circle.
The four bands were the Standard Oil Band from Baton Rouge and the Police, Public Service and Fortier High School Bands of New Orleans.
Mayor T. Semmes Walmsley, heading a group of city officials, praised the team’s victory as a triumph for the city, state and South. The mayor, at Lee Circle, presented each man with a gold card from the city, emblematic of his accomplishment at the meet. A large silver plaque was presented to Bernie Moore, head track coach at L.S.U.
‘Honor Great Team’
Mayor Walmsley introduced himself President James Monroe Smith of L.S.U., who represented Governor O.K. Allen. Dr. Smith stated that “the greatest city in the South is honoring a great championship team.”
Congratulations to the team were also offered by Mayor Harry T. Hartwell of Mobile and former Mayor John Kennedy of Biloxi, now comptroller of customs here. Coach Moore and Joseph Gumbel, chairman of the reception committee, also spoke.
A group of youngsters from the Behrman Playground, all clad in track uniforms, marched in the parade and extended personal greetings to the champions.
At the banquet Friday night Dr. Lucian H. Landry of Tulane university thanked the athletes “for evening the score with the University of Southern California,” who defeated Tulane for the national football championship on New Year’s Day, 1932, and who were nosed out by L.S.U. for the track title. Father R. Rush Rankin, S.J., of Loyola, greeted the team on behalf of that university.
Commissioner A. Miles Pratt, representing Mayor Walmsley, extended the greetings of the city at the banquet, Mr. Pratt, an L.S.U. alumnus of the class of 1903, described athletic conditions of his day as compared with those that exist now.
“When I was in college,” he said, “Tulane and L.S.U. and this section of the country generally were not considered worthy of athletic consideration by the rest of the country. Now, to name only a few champions who speak for themselves, we have the Tulane football team of 1931, the Papoose baseball team of 1932, the fighting Flyns and Emmett Toppino of Loyola, and now the L.S.U. national champion track team.”
President Smith of L.S.U., after thanking New Orleans citizens for their support of the team and for their reception, praised the pursuit of sports in schools and colleges, asserting that he “would not care to head an institution that did not encourage athletics as a natural outlet for youthful energy.”
Dr. Smith told how modern athletes abide by the ancient Grecian Olympic oath, which pledged that the athlete had trained earnestly and would always play fairly.
Senator Huey P. Long, also a speaker on the program, characterized himself as “the only man during whose administration as governor of Louisiana and as ex-officio president of L.S.U., didn’t beat Tulane once in four years of football.”
“We have three great universities now,” Senator Long said, “in L.S.U., Tulane and Loyola. It makes no difference which one is first; what we have to do, though, is to see that one or all of them is always at the top.
“Every eye in the United States has to turn now to Louisiana to see what’s going on, in football, baseball, track, or in medicine. New Orleans is the greatest medical center in the world, with the two finest medical schools in the country.
“History shows that without New Orleans there would have been no United States west of the Mississippi River.
“Now, people always look to the Rose Bowl to see who is the football champion. In a few years I believe we’ll have a Southern Bowl, here in New Orleans, and instead of saying ‘Who’s going to play?’ we’ll say ‘who’s coming to play?’ We’re going to bring history back to where it started and where it belongs.
“Matt Gordy is characteristic of Louisiana, and how we work in a pinch. When an extra six inches , six inches more than he’d ever done before, was needed to win, it didn’t mean anything but half a foot.”
Senator Long introduced the athletes and Coach Moore, each of whom made brief addresses. Hardin characterized his two record-breaking performances at the meet as “just another time at bat,” and Gordy attributed his ability to break his own record to the attention and work given him by Coach Moore.
Captain Moreau did not discuss the meet, saying that “after all the speakers before me, you can’t expect any more than gumbo from me.” Torrance thanked the city for its welcome.
Coach Moore said that the athletes were happier over the fact that they had “given the home folks something to talk about” than over personal triumphs. “The boys didn’t talk about who they beat after the meet,” he said, “but only said ‘Won’t they be happy tonight down in Louisiana.’”
Federal Judge Rufus E. Foster acted as toastmaster. The Standard Oil Band from Baton Rouge played musical numbers throughout the program and moving pictures of the L.S.U. team in action were shown on a screen after the banquet.