Dr.J. on Running


Stan Saplin 1913-2002

The Passing of a Legend

Published March 11, 2002 in The Syracuse Post-Standard.

By Dr Kamal Jabbour, Contributing Writer

I was in my wife's office when the introductions were made on Anne Saplin's first day of work at SUNY ESF. "I hear you write a column about running," she said with a smile. "You should meet my dad. He knows a bit about running and he would love to talk to you sometime."

Her father was Stan Saplin: 1934 graduate of New York University; administrator; sports information director; 1995 inductee to the New York University Athletics Hall of Fame; publicist and historian for New York University and three other colleges, the Rangers hockey team, the Millrose Games track and field meet, and the New York City Marathon; New York Armory and Penn Relays announcer; encyclopedic historian; and collector.

Within a few days, my wife had secured Saplin's email address, with the assurance from Anne that her father was eager to contribute to the Ed Stabler Syracuse Charger National Distance Running Library. "Dear Mr. Saplin," wrote my wife." Anne mentioned your interest in running and your vast knowledge of track and field....I would be happy to discuss the possibilities with you and see if we can help each other to promote the sport."

A few days later, Anne came with a box full of materials. "You should see his apartment," lamented Anne. "It is like the Library of Congress. He talks about donating it to a library, but he won't part with it to just anyone."

"I am eager to unload lots of stuff," he wrote in his June email. "I am pleased to know about the Chargers collection, which had never before come to my attention until Anne."

In late October, we received this message: "Ready for mailing now is the official 1972 United States Olympic Book (Munich/Sapporo). Clippings (bios and news articles about athletes, possibly other books) will follow at a later date. Stan Saplin"

In early November, we ventured the question, "Have you ever thought about doing p.a. [public announcing] again for a meet?" His reply was succinct: "For instance? Stan."

At the same time, we received his copy of the 1972 Munich Olympics book. In the exchange of emails, Saplin shared himself with us. "One of my choice memories came when I was doing the p.a. job in the [Madison Square] Garden (I did the field events for at least 25 years). Dwight [Stone] was next to jump, and when I introduced him, I said ("...the holder of six national championships...") he, poised to jump, suddenly shouted 'Seven!'"

A week later, we received sad news from the track & field email list. Saplin suffered a stroke and slipped into a coma. In the weeks that followed, he regained consciousness, but we never heard from him again. On March 1, 2002, Stan Saplin died at age 88. The Associated Press reported that he is survived by his wife, two daughters, and a step-daughter. I respectfully add the following: Stan Saplin is survived by the history of track and field. Let us celebrate his legacy by creating memories for the future.

© 2002 The Post-Standard.

Kamal Jabbour runs and writes on the hills of Pompey, New York. His RUNNING Column appears in The Syracuse Post-Standard on Mondays. Dr.J. created TrackMeets.com, webcasting live Every Lap of Every Race. He receives email at jabbour@i2sports.com.