Tom Thorp
Thorp circa 1922
Biographical details
BornMarch 6, 1884
Manhattan, New York City
DiedJuly 6, 1942(1942-07-06) (aged 58)
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Playing career
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
Head coaching record

Thomas Joseph Thorp (March 6, 1884 – July 6, 1942) was an American football player and coach, sports writer, and football and horse racing official. He served as the head football at Fordham University from 1912 to 1913 and at New York University from 1922 to 1924, compiling a career college football record of 21–17–4.

Early years

He was born on March 6, 1884 in Manhattan, New York City in the neighborhood known as the Roaring Forties.

He enrolled at Columbia University where he played at the tackle position for the school's football teams in 1903 and 1904. He was among the first non-Ivy League players to be named to Walter Camp's All-America team,[1] and was selected as an All-American in both 1903 and 1904. In October 1905, amid the movement to eradicate professionalism from college football, Columbia's faculty dropped Thorp from the university. The New York Times wrote that Thorp had been "the backbone" of the team and reported that Thorp's expulsion was "the worst blow that Columbia football has received" and a move that "cast the gloom of despair" over the prospects for the Columbia football team in 1905.[2] Upon being expelled from Columbia, Thorp sought admission to Cornell, but he was not able to acquire advance standing. Thorp next went to the University of Virginia, where he was enrolled and played football.[3][4]

Sports writer

In the late 1900s, Thorp was hired as a sports writer for the New York Journal. He also worked for a time for the New York American and the New York World.[1] He continued to work as a journalist until 1936, when he became employed as a full-time official at horse racing tracks.[3] Following his death in 1942, he was remembered as "a bona fide newspaperman, which is to say ... he was an able, news-chasing, news-writing reporter."[5]

Coaching and officiating


Thorp was head football coach at Fordham University for the 1912 and 1913 seasons, compiling a record of 7–7–2.[6]


Thorp was the 18th head football coach a New York University (NYU), serving for three seasons, from 1922 to 1924, and compiling a record of 14–10–2.[7] This ranks him fourth at NYU in total wins and third at NYU in winning percentage.[8]


When he was not coaching, Thorp also worked as an official for college football games. He officiated at many of the significant eastern games and was the first easterner to be invited to officiate at a Rose Bowl Game. He continued officiating at football games until 1940.[3]

Horse racing steward

In his later years, Thorp lived in Rockville Centre, New York. When pari-mutuel was permitted in New England in 1933, Thorp became employed in the horse racing business.[1] He served as the presiding steward at several race tracks, including Suffolk Downs, the Pagodas at Rockingham Park, Narragansett Park, and Tropical Park in Florida.[3] He was also the general manager at the Empire City track in Yonkers, New York for a time.[3] When Seabiscuit was matched against War Admiral, Thorp was the presiding steward at the race. When post time passed for the race, a crowd of reporters gathered, and it was Thorp who finally delivered the news that "Seabiscuit scratched."[5]

In late June 1942, after presiding over the races at Suffolk Downs, Thorp suffered a heart attack at a Boston hotel; he died a week later at Wyman House in Cambridge, Massachusetts.[3] Thorp was unmarried and was survived by his mother and two brothers.[3]

Head coaching record

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs
Fordham Maroon (Independent) (1912–1913)
1912 Fordham 4–4
1913 Fordham 3–3–2
Fordham: 7–7–2
NYU Violets (Independent) (1922–1924)
1922 NYU 4–5
1923 NYU 6–2–1
1924 NYU 4–3–1
NYU: 14–10–2
Total: 21–17–4


  1. ^ a b c "Tom Thorp, Turf and Grid Official, Dies". Wisconsin State Journal (UP story). July 7, 1942.
  2. ^ "Columbia Is Crippled By Football Verdicts: Capt. Thorp Dropped and Carter and Starbuck Cannot Play". The New York Times. October 12, 1905.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "Death Takes Tom Thorp From New England Racing Scene". Lowell Sun. July 7, 1942.
  4. ^ "'Tom' Thorp at Virginia: Columbia's Ex-Captain Played on 'Scrub' in Yesterday's Practice". The New York Times. October 31, 1905.
  5. ^ a b John F. Kenney (1940-07-08). "The Lookout: Tom Thorp Leaves ... a Fond Memory". Lowell Sun.
  6. ^ College Football Data Warehouse Archived 2002-09-19 at the Wayback Machine Fordham Coaching Records
  7. ^ The Ultimate Guide to College Football, James Quirk, 2004
  8. ^ "New York University Violets coaching records". Archived from the original on 2010-12-13. Retrieved 2010-03-01.