Tribute to Dean Cromwell

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Frank Wykoff inducted into the USA Olympic Hall of Fame 1984

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The 'Tribute to Coach Dean Cromwell' page contains a reprint of an Obituary article written by Dwain Esper of the Los Angeles Herald Examiner entitled 'Dean Cromwell, 82, Dies -- Famed SC 'Maker of Champs' dated 8-4-62.


1957 - Coach Dean Cromwell retired from the University of Southern California



Coach Dean Cromwell


1880 - 1962


Newspaper photo - Dean Cromwell Maker of Champions - 1948;  From left, Roland Sink, Bob Chambers, Cromwell, Cliff Bourland, Wilbur Thompson, and Mel Patton.

                          Herald Examiner Photo


Dean Cromwell, who died last night at 82, is shown as head coach of 1948 Olympic Team and five of his beloved Trojans which competed in London. From left, Roland Sink, Bob Chambers, Cromwell, Cliff Bourland, Wilbur Thompson, and Mel Patton.  Thompson won shot put and Patton 200 meters during Olympic Games.


Dean Cromwell, 82, Dies

Famed SC 'Maker of Champs'

By Dwain Esper


Reprint of article appearing in the (? Los Angeles Herald Examiner?) on 8-4-62

note -- some sentences are unreadable due to tears and fading of text.

Herald Examiner Newspaper Obituary on Coach Dean Cromwell

An immeasurable void exists today in the sports world.


Dean Bartlett Cromwell is dead.


The Maker of Champions, who personally sculpted one of the great dynasties in sports history, passed away last night while watching the College All Star-Green Bay Packer football game on television.


In ill health since March 22 when he suffered a coronary thrombosis, Cromwell was 82 at the time of his death.


His wife Gertrude was with him at the end.  A fire department rescue squad was unable to revive him, and he was pronounced death by Dr. Ervin C. Kaye.


A perfectionist to the extreme, Cromwell built the University of Southern California into such a track and field power that his critics cried he was ruining the sport.


Taking over as head coach in 1909, he never failed to produce an Olympic champion through the next 40 years until his retirement at the conclusion of the 1948 season.



In 1933 his teams embarked on a winning streak that encountered disaster only because World War II depleted Trojan manpower.


During that fruitful decade Cromwell lost only one dual meet, that to a San Francisco Olympic Club squad, bolstered with a plethora of post-collegiate talent in 1937.  But he squared that score many times thereafter with overwhelming victories over the Bay Area Club from 1938 through 1941.


Following the 1924 season he rolled over California 18 consecutive times.


Even arch-rival Stanford which had given him much trouble in the twenties, fell with regularity when he ... (?) his powerhouses of the prewar era.


He never lost to UCLA.  And in his time, the Occidental meet was conducted on handicap basis with the Trojans giving away yards to their outmatched opponents.


In no other (?) was dominated (? ........)



Cromwell won (...?) consecutive NCAA meets.  So overwhelming were his triumphs in the once formidable IC4A championships that he was politely asked to withdraw from the association.  From 1928 through his retirement (1948) he never lost a Pacific Coast Conference championship.


Southern California became a world-wide name in track and field.  The Trojans were strong enough to win an Olympic Games all by themselves under Cromwell's guidance.


The Dean, as he was affectionately known in athletic circles, though only in terms of victory.


Often he would develop key men slowly so that they reached their peek in the critical championship meets.  Then they would surprise their opposition by scoring clutch points as the Trojans rolled to another triumph.


Cromwell's aggregations set scoring records in both the NCAA and IC4A meets.  Often his athletes joined southland clubs to record equally vital points in the AAU championships.  This was especially true in the days of the Los Angeles Athletic Club and the Southern California Athletic Association.



Dean Cromwell's great accomplishments included Frank Wykoff - World Record holder in the 100 yard dash 1930 - 1948

Dozens of Trojans established world records.  Scores more achieved championship in AAU, NCAA, IC4A and PCC competition.

The list seems unending.


But the first one was Fred Kelly, who won the 1912 Olympic high hurdle championship.


"He was the man," Cromwell used to say ... "who put the University of Southern California on the map."

 Above Photo: Frank Wykoff


And how Dean Cromwell of the University of Southern California ...  (... ?)


"Isn't it wonderful," he would say ..."that this small Methodist institution produced so many world champions?"


Conversely, Cromwell had little use for any school which threatened SC's domination in track and field.


Prior to one important meet with Stanford, he advised his troops: 

"Tomorrow you will be performing at Stanford, where tradition lurks behind every eucalyptus tree.  It would be most befitting that you as Trojans, achieve your utmost."


And SC went out to score another convincing triumph.




One of Cromwell's most famous pupils was the late Charlie Paddock, who shattered all the sprint records in the post-World War II era.


Paddock came to Cromwell with a fine high school background.  He had a habit of leaping through the air when he neared the tape.  Some called it showboat tactics.


Cromwell refused to break Paddock's pattern of running.


"If the gentleman whishes to break world records that way, what is a poor track coach to do?"


The climax to the Dean's incredible career occurred in 1948 when he was named as head coach of the United States Olympic team, an honor some said came much to late.


However, he accepted the position graciously and guided the Americans to a rousing victory at London.  Significantly, five Trojans joined him in this last venture, three capturing gold medals -- Mel Patton in the 200 meters.  Wilbur Thompson in the shot put, and Cliff Bourland in the 1600 meter relay.



Following his retirement, Cromwell spent the last years attending different sporting events.  He was a life member of the Southern California Football Writers Association and loved the sport.


Of course, he also was a devotee of horse racing and often had a sly wink for associates when a long shot came through.


A touch of genius remained as late as 1956 when he was appointed head coach of the Armed Forces track team.


He inherited a middle distance runner named Tom Courtney, who had spent three previous years eating the dust of Arnie Sowell in the half mile.


When the Olympic tryouts loomed, Cromwell was asked how he thought Courtney would do against the flashy Sowell.


"I don't think Courtney will beat Sowell, I KNOW, Courtney will beat Sowell."


Courtney himself was startled with this comment.


Yet on the day of the meet with Cromwell delivering instructions right to the starting line, Courtney set sail and won the race going away.  Thereafter, he never lost to his nemesis again.


It was all part of Cromwell's philosophy.  He refused to be associated with anything less than a champion.




E-Mail concerning Coach Dean Cromwell


Sent: Friday, August 20, 2004 2:35 PM

Terrific website!

We’re always looking for historical items regarding Coach Cromwell, have children that will appreciate his accomplishments as they grow older.

Thanks Again,

Dean B Cromwell III (grandson)



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