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The Day in Sports | COUNTDOWN TO 2000 / A day-by-day
recap of some of the most important sports moments
of the 20th Century: APRIL 28, 1990

Coliseum Tradition Hits the Finish Line

April 28, 1999|EARL GUSTKEY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

From the 1920s to the mid-1960s, the Coliseum was the world's track and field capital.

There was one Olympic Games, memorable international meets and numerous Coliseum Relays with crowds of 40,000 and more common. And always, there was the USC-UCLA meet, a track nut's staple.

Among the best-remembered Coliseum track events:

* At the 1962 Coliseum Relays, fans saw history's first 200-foot discus throw, by Al Oerter.

* At the 1956 USC-UCLA meet, 38,543 who came to see Australian John Landy run the first four-minute mile in the Western Hemisphere in a special race, instead saw him beaten by Jim Bailey of the University of Oregon in 3:58.6.

* At the 1956 Olympic trials, Compton College's Charles Dumas broke the seven-foot barrier in the high jump.

But after the mid-1960s, after major league football, baseball and basketball had moved west and competition for the entertainment dollar was stretched, track and field began to wither.

So on this date nine years ago, USC and UCLA competed in track for the last time at the Coliseum. Months afterward, the football field was lowered as part of a Coliseum rehab job and that was the end of the track.

But even by 1990, track and field had lost much of its following. Sadly, only 2,452 showed up for the final USC-UCLA meet at the Coliseum.

Also on this date: In 1967, Jim Mackenzie, football coach at Oklahoma, died at 37 of a heart attack. An assistant coach, Chuck Fairbanks, succeeded Mackenzie. . . . . . . . In 1967, Muhammad Ali was officially stripped of his heavyweight championship by all U.S. and European boxing organizations for refusing to enter military service.

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