FIELD DAYS, 1889-1911
The first known track and field meet for University of Tennessee students took place on April 12, 1889. The occasion was the first Field Day and was held at Elmwood Park in Knoxville. At this time baseball was the only varsity sport at Tennessee. Each spring it had become the custom to give the students a one day vacation from classes, and in 1889 it was decided to add an intramural track and field meet to the program. Merchants put up prizes for the winners which were valued at $200. About 180 contestants entered the meet and the cadet’s brass band furnished music. (4)
A large crowd turned out for the first Field Day. The officials for the first meet included Professor C.S. Plumb, master of ceremonies and referee; Professor H.E. Summers and Dr. W.E. Stone, judges; Professor J.S. Coon, timekeeper; and J.L. Kirby, H.H. Suttle, H.L. McCorkle, R.E. Wait, and S.E. Spence, committee of arrangements. (4)
It was noted by a reporter for the Knoxville Journal that:
The number of ladies present must have been flattering to the originators
of the sports and highly stimulative to the students.
The winners of the events and their prizes were listed in The Knoxville Journal as follows:
The first Field Day was a tremendous success and marked the beginning of a greater effort to provide athletic programs for the UT students. They continued past the turn of the century and finally came to an official end after the 23rd Field Day in 1911. By this time a varsity track team had been organized. Baseball was still the most popular sport on campus but it was being challenged by a new game called football. (2)
Although the Field Days were replaced by varsity track and field, they still continue to this day in the form of fraternity and intramural track and field meets.