Walter Hummell in 1916
Walter Hummell in 1916

Walter Alvoid "Walt" Hummel (June 19, 1892 – May 1978) was an American track and field athlete. He was United States champion in the 440 yd hurdles in 1916.


Hummel was born in Portland, Oregon on June 19, 1892,[1] and represented the Multnomah Athletic Club.[1] He took up track and field as a school boy and competed in a wide variety of events, including sprints, hurdles, jumps and throws, but he never tried his eventual specialty, the 440 yd (402.3 m) hurdles, until July 1915.[1] He had no coach, but self-developed an efficient hurdling technique resembling that of champion hurdler Robert Simpson.[1]

Hummel was selected as captain of the Multnomah A. C.'s track and field team in 1916.[2] That year he emerged as a serious challenger to world record holder Bill Meanix, who until then had been America's top 440 yd hurdler.[3] At the 1916 national championships Hummel first won the junior 440 yd hurdles, running a junior meeting record of 56.4 (the junior championships were not yet limited to athletes aged under 20).[1][4][5] The following day he also won the senior title, defeating Meanix; Meanix went out hard and led for much of the way, but Hummel caught him and won by two yards.[6] Hummel's winning time of 54.8 was a meeting record, and only 0.2 seconds off Meanix's world record.[6][7] Meanix beat him in 55.0 in a rematch the following week; Hummel had been ready to finish his season and asked for the rematch to be canceled, but was eventually persuaded to run.[8][9] Despite losing the rematch Hummel was named by the AAU as the year's top 440 yd hurdler, ahead of Meanix.[10]

United States joined World War I in 1917, and Hummel enlisted in the United States Army.[11] Like a number of other top athletes, he obtained a leave of absence to compete in the 1917 national championships;[12] he was one of three favorites for the 440 yd hurdles title, the others being Meanix and newcomer Floyd Smart.[13] However, he was sick before the meet and his training had been very limited,[14][15] and he placed third as Smart equaled his meeting record.[7][16] During the war he was a sergeant with the 364th Field Hospital Company[17][18] and assisted Simpson as a military track and field coach at Camp Lewis.[19]

Hummel later ran a hardware store in Eugene, Oregon, with baseball player Joe "Flash" Gordon as one of his business partners.[20][21]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Remarkable Rise of W.A.Hummel, Western Lad Who Won Two Titles" (PDF). Brooklyn Daily Eagle. January 7, 1917. Retrieved November 21, 2014.
  2. ^ "Hummel Is Captain" (PDF). The Oregonian. March 6, 1916. Retrieved November 21, 2014.
  3. ^ Jukola, Martti (1935). Huippu-urheilun historia (in Finnish). Werner Söderström Osakeyhtiö.
  4. ^ "Junior Title Meet Easy For N.Y.A.C." (PDF). The New York Times. September 9, 1916. Retrieved November 22, 2014.
  5. ^ Loomis, Jo Gilbert (August 5, 1915). "Great Interest Shown in Meets at Frisco Fair". Chicago Daily Tribune. Retrieved November 24, 2014.
  6. ^ a b "Bronder Makes Record Heave On First Attempt" (PDF). Brooklyn Daily Eagle. September 10, 1916. Retrieved November 22, 2014.
  7. ^ a b Mallon, Bill; Buchanan, Ian; Track & Field News. "A History Of The Results Of The National Track & Field Championships Of The USA From 1876 Through 2011". Track & Field News. Retrieved November 21, 2014.
  8. ^ "Brundage Holds All-Round Title". The Boston Globe. September 17, 1916. p. 15. Retrieved November 22, 2014.
  9. ^ "Live Tips and Topics". The Boston Globe. September 19, 1916. p. 6. Retrieved November 22, 2014.
  10. ^ "All-American Field And Track Team Is Selected". Cornell Daily Sun. January 2, 1917. Retrieved November 21, 2014.
  11. ^ "Enlisted Man at American Lake Asks Furlough to Save Record". Tacoma Times. August 2, 1917. Retrieved November 22, 2014.
  12. ^ "Kelly Is To Compete In The A.A.U. Games". The Washington Post. August 24, 1917. Retrieved November 21, 2014.
  13. ^ "New England Will Have Five Champions In Fight For National A. A. U. Titles". August 31, 1917. Retrieved November 21, 2014.
  14. ^ Binswanger, Alvin Otto (1921). Chronological History of the 364th Field Hospital Company. 364th Field Hospital Publication Committee. p. 11.
  15. ^ Goodwin, Earl R. (March 31, 1919). "Multnomah May Be Represented Abroad". The Oregonian. Retrieved November 21, 2014.
  16. ^ "B. A. A. Third in Senior Events". The Boston Globe. September 2, 1917. p. 13. Retrieved November 21, 2014.
  17. ^ "Hard Training Soon". The Oregonian. April 7, 1918. Retrieved November 21, 2014.
  18. ^ "Oregon Boy Tells Of Adventure In Crossing The Piave". The Oregonian. February 9, 1919. Retrieved November 21, 2014.
  19. ^ "Bayonet Combat Soldiers' Sport". Bakersfield Morning Echo. March 10, 1918. p. 12. Retrieved November 21, 2014.
  20. ^ "Joe Gordon Lands Steelheads". Santa Cruz Sentinel. February 7, 1947. Retrieved November 21, 2014.
  21. ^ Strite, Dick (October 7, 1948). "Meet Joe (Flash) Gordon, Eugene's World Series Vet". Eugene Register-Guard. Retrieved November 21, 2014.