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Stanford Stories From the Archives

Stanford Athletic Firsts

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First Big Game: March 19, 1892

The term "Big Game" was first used in 1900 and was played in San Francisco through 1903. Since 1933, the victor of the game has been awarded possession of the Stanford Axe. Stanford leads the series 61–46–11.

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First intercollegiate women's basketball game: 1896

In a hotly contested game at the San Francisco Armory Stanford outscores Cal 2-1 to win the first women's intercollegiate basketball game. At the time, the university devoted few resources to athletics, so women took up sports for health and fitness. Women students decided on their own to enter competition, and women's basketball teams play nearby Castilleja (1894) and other local schools before taking on the University of California. Students form the Women's Athletic Club (later the Women's Athletic Association) in fall 1895 to encourage women as participants, rather than spectators, of "sport." Because the Faculty Athletic Committee objects to public intercollegiate matches for women, the basketball team is virtually disbanded, and competitive sports are confined to tennis and, later, field hockey.

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First Rose Bowl: January 1, 1902

Originally titled the "Tournament East–West football game," Stanford was outmatched in the first Rose Bowl against mighty Michigan, losing 49-0 after quitting in the 3rd quarter. Stanford would win its first Rose Bowl in 1928, beating Pitt 7-6. Stanford has won 7 times: 1928, 1936, 1941, 1971, 1972, 2013, 2016.

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Big Red Rose Bowl (1971)

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First world record: Norman Dole (pole vault), 1904

On April 23, 1904 using a carved spruce pole, Norman Dole ('04) cleared 12 feet 1 and 8/25ths inches at the Stanford-Cal track meet to set the first world record by a Stanford athlete.

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First Rhodes Scholar: Hugh Moran, 1905

Hugh S. Moran ('05) was the first Stanford athlete to win a prestigious Rhodes Scholarship. A Greek major, Moran was a member of the Delia Upsilon fraternity, president of the English Club, an officer in the Young Men's Christian Association, and member of the varsity track team. To date, 14 student-athletes have received Rhodes Scholarships.

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First Olympic medal: George Horine, 1912 (high jump; bronze)

The first Stanford athlete to win a medal in Olympic competition was George Horine ('14), who won the bronze medal in the high jump.

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First Olympic gold medal: Morris Kirksey, 1920 (rugby and track and field)

Morris Kirskey ('22), pictured on the left, was the first Stanford athlete to win a gold medal, as well as the first double winner in rugby and track and field. At the 1920 Olympic Games in Antwerp, Kirksey finished second in the 100-meter sprint behind Charlie Paddock (pictured on right). Six days later he anchored the United States 4x100-meter relay team that won the gold medal in a world record time of 42.2 seconds. Two weeks later Kirksey won his second gold medal, helping the American rugby team defeat France 8–0.

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First men's champion: Philip Neer (tennis), 1921; Flint Hanner (javelin), 1921

The first men's champions were Philip Neer in tennis and Flint Hanner in track and field (javelin), both in 1921.

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First men’s team championship: track and field, 1925

The first men's team to win a championship was track and field.

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First athlete to compete in Olympics and Rose Bowl: Bob Mathias (’53)

Mathias was the youngest athlete (17) to ever win medal in track and field (1948). He was also the first to win the decathlon twice (1948, 1952).

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First Stanford player selected #1 overall in NLF draft: Bobby Garrett (QB), 1954

Garrett was the first of 4 Stanford quarterbacks to be selected first overall in the NFL draft. The others were: Jim Plunkett (1971), John Elway (1983), and Andrew Luck (2012).

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First women's champion: Jane Albert, 1964 (AIAW)

Jane Albert Willens captured her first national title at age 14. Two years later she claimed the California State triple crown, the youngest titleholder ever. Albert continued her winning ways at Stanford University, becoming the national collegiate singles champion in 1964 and doubles champion in 1967.

Described as ‘thriving on pressure,’ Albert debuted at Wimbledon in 1963 on Centre Court, nearly taking the match against 1962 finalist Vera Sukova. Despite a back injury in 1964 she broke into the USTA Top 10 and was ranked No. 4 the following year. In 1967, Albert made a fitting exit from competitive tennis by winning two gold metals at the Pan American Games. Now a clinical social worker and the mother of three children, Albert was the first woman inducted into the Stanford Athletic Hall of Fame.

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First Heisman Trophy winner: Jim Plunkett, 1971

In his senior year, Plunkett led Stanford to their first Rose Bowl appearance since 1952, a game that ended with a 27-17 Stanford victory over the heavily favored Ohio State Buckeyes. With eighteen passing and three rushing touchdowns added to his 2,715 passing yards on the year, Plunkett was awarded the 1970 Heisman Trophy, the award given annually to the top college football player in the country. He was the first Latino to win the Heisman Trophy. Aside from the Heisman, he captured the Maxwell Award and the Walter Camp Award.

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Interview with Bob Murphy (2002)

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First women’s championship: tennis, 1978 (AIAW), 1982 (NCAA)

The Stanford women’s tennis team has won the most championships of any Stanford team (18).

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First women’s NCAA Tournament championship: 1990

The women's basketball team won their first NCAA tournament in 1990. They would repeat in 1991.

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First Director's Cup: 1994-1995

Although Stanford finished second in the first year of the award, it has won every year since.

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First player selected #1 in MLB draft: Mark Appel (RHP), 2013

As a junior, Appel had a 10–2 record and 2.56 ERA, and won the National Pitcher of the Year Award. Projected as a potential first overall pick in the 2012 Major League Baseball Draft, Appel turned returned to Stanford to play his senior. He graduated after the fall semester, receiving a degree in Management Science and Engineering.During his Senior year, Appel had a 10–4 record with a 2.12 ERA and struck out 130 batters in 106 1⁄3 innings. The Pac-12 Conference honored him as their Scholar-Athlete of the Year. He was selected by the Houston Astros with the first pick in the 2013 Major League Baseball Draft.

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First siblings selected first in professional draft: Nneka Ogwumike, 2012; Chiney Ogwumike, 2014

Nneka played in four Final Fours and broke the Cardinal record for rebounds in a game with 23 in 2010. She left Stanford as the second all-time leading scorer behind only Candice Wiggins. In 2012, she was selected #1 overall in the WNBA by the Los Angeles Sparks. In 2016, Nneka was voted the WNBA MVP.

Chiney played in three Final Fours and holds the record for most rebounds in the history of Stanford Women's Basketball and the Pac-12 Conference. Winner of the John R. Wooden award in 2014, she also produced a series of viral videos about the university's student athlete culture, which spawned the Nerd Nation moniker. In 2014, Chiney was selected #1 overall in the WBNA draft by the Connecticut Sun. She was later voted WNBA Rookie of the Year and All Star in 2014.

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First African-American woman to win an Olympic gold medal in swimming: Simone Manuel, 2016

In her freshman year, 2014, Simone broke the school records in the 50-, 100-, and 200-yard freestyle, as well as American and National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) records for 100-yard freestyle. She is a two-time individual NCAA champion: winning the 50- and 100-yard freestyle in 2015. Manuel also holds three world records as a member of a relay team.

At the 2016 Rio Olympics, she won two gold and two silver medals: gold in the 100-meter freestyle and the 4x100-meter medley, and silver in the 50-meter freestyle and the 4×100-meter freestyle relay. In winning the 100-meter freestyle, a tie with Penny Oleksiak of Canada, Manuel became the first African-American woman to win an individual Olympic gold in swimming and set an Olympic record and an American record.