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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: MAY 20, 1960

Dodgers' Move Forces Track and Field Change


Many Southern California track nuts were unhappy when the Dodgers moved West from Brooklyn and set up temporary quarters in the Coliseum.

Surely, they figured, this means the end of track and field at the stadium.

Nope. Not yet. But it meant a nontraditional running surface.

For the 1960 Coliseum Relays, 31,566 showed up to see the great Australian miler, Herb Elliott, run on a grass track.

Elliott, 22, already the world-record holder at 1,500 meters (3:36.0), cruised to an almost effortless 3:45.4 win. Elliott beat runner-up Hungarian Laszlo Tabori by about 10 yards and afterward showed reporters a swelling behind his heel, where, he said, a bee had stung him two days before.

Elliott went from Los Angeles to run 1,500s at Compton and Modesto meets and from there to Rome, where he registered one of the most dominating performances in the history of Olympic track and field. He won the final by 20 yards and set a world record, 3:35.6, that lasted seven years.

Between 1956 and 1960, Elliott was 44-0 in the 1,500 and mile.

Also that night at the Coliseum, USC sophomore Dallas Long got off a career-best 63-5 1/4 in the shotput. He would win a bronze medal at Rome and, four years later at Tokyo, the gold medal.

The 400-meter hurdles event that night featured a coming changing of the guard. The winner was Olympic champion and world-record holder Glenn Davis (who would also win in Rome). Finishing third was USC freshman Rex Cawley, who would win the 1964 gold medal.

Also on this date: In 1961, Carry Back, with Johnny Sellers riding, rallied from seventh place to beat Globemaster in the stretch at the 85th Preakness Stakes. . . . In 1968, Angel shortstop Jim Fregosi hit a home run in the first inning, a triple in the third, a double in the eighth and a single in the 11th to drive in the winning run against the Boston Red Sox. . . . In 1964, 298-pound Buster Mathis won a decision over Joe Frazier to earn the heavyweight berth on the U.S. Olympic team. Mathis later had to withdraw because of injury and was replaced by Frazier, who won the gold medal in Tokyo.

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