Tag Archives: sports

Stella Walsh

The October 14 1930 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this photograph of an Olympic sprinter:

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Stella Walsh (1911-1980) turns out to be a very interesting and sadly tragic story. Her given name was Stanislawa Walasiewicz, and her family emigrated from Poland to the United States when she was three months old.

She qualified for the American Olympic team in 1928, but was not eligible to compete, as she did not have American citizenship and could not obtain it until she was 21. In 1930, she competed for Poland in the Women’s World Games, winning the gold medal in three events (after which she was photographed, as shown above).

Four years later, she won American championships in three events and was offered citizenship just prior to the 1932 Olympics. However, she chose to become a citizen of Poland, and won the gold medal in the 100 meter dash. In 1936, she finished second to Helen Stephens (who appeared in this blog here).

In 1947, she became an American citizen. In 1980, she was killed during an armed robbery in her home city of Cleveland. On her death, it was discovered that she had a Y chromosome and some features of both sexes. There is some debate over whether her track and field records should be erased.

Mary Casson

The August 26 1926 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this photograph of Canadian swimmer Mary Casson:

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My first thought when I saw this was that better dentistry is now available to almost everybody: nowadays, you’d have to be very poor to be young with a tooth missing or lopsided like that.

I couldn’t find anything on Mary Casson, partly because there was an actress with the same name who passed away in 2009 at the age of 95. The only reference that I saw was that she was posthumously honoured at the 2015 University of Toronto Sports Hall of Fame ceremony.

Myles Thomas

The August 22 1925 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained a photo of a pitcher for the Toronto Maple Leafs baseball team who was in some demand:

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When I looked Myles Thomas up in Baseball Reference, I discovered that he had a 28-8 record for the Maple Leafs, who were considered a class AA club at that time. No wonder he was in demand!

However, he didn’t wind up with the Chicago Cubs – in 1926, he landed with the New York Yankees. He pitched for the Yankees and Washington Senators from 1926 to 1930, with middling success. He did appear in 108 major league games in total, which is a lot more than many players.

After his major league career ended, Thomas pitched in the minor leagues until 1935. He passed away in 1963.

Joe Rabbitt

The July 14 1930 edition of the Toronto Daily Star had a brief article about a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs baseball team who was battling for the International League lead in stolen bases. Appropriately enough, his name was Joe Rabbitt:

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The Baseball Reference web site has an entry for Joe Rabbitt – unfortunately, it doesn’t list the International League stolen base statistics for 1930, so I don’t know whether he actually succeeded in winning the “base-running championship”. It does state that Rabbitt did make it briefly to the major leagues many years before, as he played in two games with Cleveland in 1922 and got one hit. It was a brief showcase, as he was sent back to Class C ball the next year.

Rabbitt played one more season for the Leafs, and played his last year of organized baseball in 1932. He passed away in 1969.

Joan McSheehy

The July 5 1933 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this photograph of a woman who had just won two swimming events at a race in Long Island.

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Joan McSheehy (1913-1948) competed in the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics, finishing fifth in the 100-metre backstroke. Footage of the 220-yard backstroke that she won at Jones Beach can be found here.

She later married, becoming Joan Huffman, and passed away at the age of 34. I could find no details on how or why she died so young.

Canada’s Olympic hopes

The July 5 1928 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained a photograph of two women who were slated to run in the 100-metre dash in the upcoming 1928 Olympic Games.

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Myrtle Cook and Ethel Smith wound up collecting gold in Amsterdam: they were half of the relay team that finished first in the women’s 4 x 100 event.

Cook captained the relay team, and her time of 12.0 seconds in the Olympic trials tied the world record for women in the 100 metres and was not beaten until 1932. She became a sportswriter in Montreal, and remained a member of the Canadian Olympic Club, running the hospitality suite for the 1976 Olympic Games. At that time, she was 74, but was still fit enough to run a lap of the track after the events finished at the Olympic Stadium. She passed away in 1985.

Besides being part of the relay team, Smith earned a bronze as a solo competitor in the women’s 100 metre event. She was from a poor family, and had to leave school in the eighth grade to work in Toronto’s garment district. She retired from competition in 1929, and passed away in 1979.

A smart junior hurdler

Editors used to sometimes add outlines in old newspaper photos to help the reader distinguish foreground from background. The July 3 1930 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contains a particularly clumsy example of this.

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Sadly, the “smart junior hurdler” now looks like he was drawn in crayon.

Arthur Ravensdale (1911-1975) continued to compete in the hurdles until the British Empire Games of 1934, despite breaking his hip while playing rugby. A street in his native Cobourg is now named after him.

Here is footage that includes Ravensdale winning in a hurdles event.