When Mr. Ed Grant attends the Millrose Games during the first Saturday in February, it will mark the 70th time he has witnessed the storied meet – almost all of them as a working journalist. In late April at Franklin Field, he will witness his 73rd Penn Relays. That’s a lot of editions of two of the nation’s oldest and most storied meets. But it’s a Millrose story from before Mr. Grant ever attended in person that really gets you.
He recalls while he was a youngster in the 1930s, and had started to become interested in the track and field due to a cousin who competed, he would listen to the Millrose Games – then contested on a Friday night – on the radio. “I would time the Wanamaker Mile by the kitchen clock,” he said. Decades before the internet and even TV coverage, a hard-core athletics aficionado was developing in New Jersey. Grant’s interest grew not so much as a competitor, but in following, chronicling and, ultimately, celebrating track and field. And the passion and involvement is still there – at age 91!
Grant would graduate St. Peter’s Prep in Jersey City, followed by St. Peter’s College in 1948. His freshman year in college, he started covering meets and the sport with the Jersey Journal. It was a not a full-time gig, so he also had assignments with the Newark News. Then in 1971, he moved to the Star-Ledger in Newark – where he continued until his retirement in 1990. He also worked for the Catholic Advocate in multiple capacities from 1957-88, and has had pieces published in the New York Times.
All of that work, however, went only so far in accomplishing Grant’s mission of getting the news about Jersey’s best around the country and also having a consolidating resource for all of the state’s action. So in 1967, he started the New Jersey Track newsletter – distributed by regular mail of course – with those aspirations at heart. He published it at least once a month, more during peak season, and at its peak, hundreds of athletes, fans and coaches subscribed – more than 50 college coaches, for example, at its peak.
In the 1990s, as online coverage of the sport began to flourish, Grant started his own web site and a smaller weekly report – published on sites like DyeStat.com. Grant was a recipient of the Jesse Abrahamson Award at the Penn Relays in 1985 and the Stan Saplin Award in 2010 at the Armory – among many others.
While Grant has special affection for all of the great NJ athletes he’s seen over the years – Marty Liquori, Renaldo Nehemiah and Sydney McLaughlin come to mind – he remembered with great amusement the 1955 Wanamaker Mile at Millrose, as Dutchman Gunnar Nielsen won in a world record 4:03.6 and his friend Fred Dwyer and Wes Santee “wrestled” down the stretch for second place.
Track and field continues to be a labor of love for Ed Grant, continuing to announce and chronicle the sport at 91.
Did You Know?
Ed Grant has attended and covered the Millrose Games and Penn Relays on a combined 140+ occasions since 1945.