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Tom Thorp

Tom Thorp
Circa 1922.
Sport(s) Football
Biographical details
Born c. 1882
New York, New York
Died July 6, 1942
Playing career
1903–1904 Columbia
Position(s) Tackle
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
Head coaching record
Overall 21–17–4
College Football Data Warehouse

Thomas J. "Tom" Thorp (c. 1882 - July 6, 1942) was an American football player and coach, sports writer, and football and horse racing official. He was the head coach for the Fordham University Rams (1912–13) and New York University Violets (1922–24) football teams. He compiled an overall record of 21–17–4.

Football player

Thorp was a native of New York, born and raised 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 coach at Fordham for the 1912 and 1913 seasons, where he compiled a record of 7 wins, 7 losses, and 2 ties.[6]

New York University

Thorp was the 18th head coach for the New York University Violets located in New York, New York and he held that position for three seasons, from 1922 until 1924.[7] His career coaching record at NYU was 14 wins, 10 losses, and 2 ties. 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 Rank#
Fordham Rams (Independent) (1912–1913)
1912 Fordham 4–4
1913 Fordham 3–3–2
NYU Violets (Independent) (1922–1924)
1922 NYU 4–5
1923 NYU 6–2–1
1924 NYU 4–3–1
Total: 21–17–4
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title
#Rankings from final Coaches' Poll.


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