Columbia Wrestling and Henry Littlefield 2-8-03

February 8, 2003


Dear Friends,


Linda and I had the distinct pleasure of joining Doug Garr (MVHS 1967, runner-up in the New York State Scholastic Wrestling Championships, and a member of Henry Littlefield’s last great State Championship team) and his brother Andy (AB Davis 1961) at the New York Athletic Club on Friday night, February 7th. The occasion was the 100th anniversary of the first collegiate wrestling program at Columbia. We were able to attend a sensational college wrestling match with the Cornell team (ranked 5th in the nation) matched against Columbia’s excellent squad. The old gymnasium was jammed with a vociferous and enthralled crowd. Cornell won 23-12, but each match was well contested. One of the highlights of the evening was the introduction of Dan Gable, the greatest name in American amateur wrestling. I have included a biography of the legendary Gable with this letter. I also had the pleasure of meeting Andy Fitch (a former NCAA wrestling champion) who was a member of Yale’s class of 1954. I had last seen Andy Fitch in 1972 when Henry, Andy and Randy Forrest worked on an all-star wrestling extravaganza in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. It had also been almost 30 years since we had been up in the NYAC to see Henry coaching some of his Amherst wrestlers in the Eastern and Metropolitan AAUs. Its funny that so many of the names I remembered from 30+ years ago are still around, a bit grayer, a bit paunchier, and still part of the small hoary world of wrestling.


The next day I wandered down from Tarrytown to Columbia’s Lou Gehrig Lounge to visit with the hundred or so Columbia wrestling veterans from the last 6 decades. Immediately I met Ernie Alleva, who competed for Rye HS in the 1970’s and wrestled with our Westchester Athletic Club team for a season. Eventually, though, I met Michael Shlanger, (AB Davis 1961, and Columbia 1965), whom I originally came to see, and we reminisced about some of the old time days at (AB Davis) and our separate but treasured memories of Henry Littlefield. As I talked to some of the other more “mature” guests, I was able to meet a dozen or so members of the 1952-57 wrestling teams that knew Henry as a competitor and a man. They to a one felt his loss keenly. It was a wonderful and unique two hours filled with joy and tears. I am sure that I will not have this type of opportunity again.





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