Legendary Ed Grant Is A New Jersey Track and Field Treasure
By Jim Lambert
The times came sprinting off his tongue as if they had come blasting out of the starting blocks - 61, 2:02, 3:03, and finally, 4:06.6.
Forty-nine years after he watched Vince Cartier of Scotch Plains-Fanwood smash the national record in the mile, Ed Grant is doing what only he can do, reeling off splits and other in depth details about Cartier's gem, which took place at the 1972 New Jersey Indoor Meet of Champions in Princeton's Jadwin Gym.
Grant did this just the other day at the age of 94, while sitting in his room at the Center for Hope Hospice & Palliative Care in Scotch Plains, where he's been for the last couple weeks after suffering a fall and a heart attack earlier this month.
While staying focused can be challenging at times, and age has naturally slowed him down physically, make no mistake about it, Ed Grant's track and field mind is still firing on all cylinders as he circles the oval on the bell lap of what has been one helluva run!
Grant, who also used the pen name Grant Edwards for several years, was the internet before the internet, the record keeper and the historian of the sport. Grant has done everything possible in the sport. In the 77 years since he broke into the newspaper business, Grant also served as an official, coach, meet director, and an announcer. His knowledge and contributions to the sport are why he's called "The Godfather of NJ T&F and XC.''
In 1944, Grant began officiating and started covering track and field for the Jersey Journal when he was a 17-year-old freshman at St. Peter's College in Jersey City. The first meet he covered was the 1944 Hudson County Outdoor Championships. Ever since then, Grant has been a towering presence, and a legendary figure in the sport of track and field and cross-country.
There never has been, nor will there ever will be anyone like Grant. Without him, there wouldn't be any history of the sport in NJ. Ed Grant is a New Jersey treasure!
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Cartier, who grew up about a mile down the road from where Grant is now staying in Scotch Plains, became friends with Grant after his running days were over, like so many other athletes Grant covered.
"He's still sharp as a tack,'' said Cartier, who has visited Grant multiple times. "He remembers things about my 4:06 race that even I don't remember. I do remember him interviewing me after that race. Whenever Ed Grant interviewed you, you knew you did something special.''
Cartier was surprised and touched that Grant viewed his 4:06.6, which stood as the national record for four years, as one of the greatest moments in NJ history.
"I had no idea until now how he felt about that race,'' said Cartier. "He has witnessed just about every great moment in track and field, so to hear that he views it as one of the greatest things he's ever seen, it really floored me.''
There certainly isn't anyone more qualified to rank New Jersey's top T&F historical moments than Grant.
Ed Grant was born on September 3, 1926 at his parents home on Fairmount Terrace in Jersey City. It's located in the Bergen area of Jersey City, south of Journal Square and the railroad cut in Greenville.
He was one of two children (he had an older sister, Evelyn). His father, Edward Avery Grant, owned a bar in Jersey City. He passed away at the age of 50 when Ed was nine. Grant's mother, Florence Opitz Grant, passed away in 1971
Grant's passion for track and field began when he was 12.
"The first track meet I ever went to was in Cliffside Park in 1938 when I was 12 years old,'' said Grant. "My cousin (Peter Rothenberger) was running the quarter mile for Cliffside Park. After that, I was really drawn to track and field because of the mathematics involved. I really liked the numbers, the times, the measurements. I found it all so fascinating.''
Grant often got his track and field fix by saddling up next to his radio at 10 p.m. during the Millrose Games at Madison Square Garden each year.
"That's the time the Wanamaker Mile was always run at the Millrose Games,'' said Grant. "We had an old clock on the wall in the kitchen, and that's how I used to time the race.''
Grant attended St. Peter's Prep in Jersey City, where he was a sprinter and thrower on the track and field team as a freshman and a senior. He also served as guide for blind students in school.
After Grant graduated from St. Peter's in 1943, it was off to St. Peter's College where he majored in math. His newspaper career began the following spring.
Grant was called into service with the U.S. Army in 1945, and while he was stationed in Valley Forge, Pa. Grant attended the Penn Relays at Franklin Field in Philadelphia for the first time in 1946 as a spectator. That started his iconic streak of 74 straight Penn Relays. More on that later.
Grant's sports writing career took him from the Jersey Journal (1944-1957), to the Newark News from 1947-1971. Then after the News went on strike, he worked at The Star-Ledger from 1971-1990.
For most of that time his full-time job was at the Advocate, the newspaper published by the Archdiocese of Newark, where Grant worked from 1957-1989. Grant served as the Advocate's Sports Editor, News Editor, and Managing Editor.
Grant has also contributed to several track and field publications, including Track & Field News. He has been on their masthead for decades.
From 1967 through 2011, Grant published a New Jersey Track and Field Annual and a monthly newsletter, which were game-changers!
These publications became a must have for every coach, athlete, reporter and track nut in the state. The newsletters recapped all the action from around the state and previewed the upcoming meets. The annual, which came out twice a year (before the XC season and before the outdoor season), was filled with thousands of names and stats. It contained every state and county record, very deep all-time performance lists, class lists, a season in review, All-State teams, all-time Holmdel Park records and much more.
You want the Cape May County girls triple jump record? How about the Bergen County boys 600m record? Need the Somerset County girls javelin record? Looking for the Salem County freshman girls pole vault record? No sweat, Grant's got you covered.
Track and field scribes have long referred to Grant's annuals as the Bible, and trust me when I tell you, no reporter worth their salt ever left home without it.
Just ask Reuben Frank, South Jersey's Track and Field/XC historian, who has covered the sport for 40 years.
"One of the first track meets I ever covered as a sports writer with the Burlington County Times was an indoor state meet at Jadwin Gym probably in the winter of 1985,'' said Frank. "I was lost. I didn't know anything about New Jersey track. But I saw a few of the writers looking stuff up in these 8 1/2-by-11 booklets and I asked somebody what it was, and he said, "That's the New Jersey Track Annual," and he pointed me in the direction of Ed Grant. I gave him a few bucks, he handed me the latest annual - Janet Smith was on the cover - and a newsletter and that was the beginning of my love affair with New Jersey track and field records, lists and statistics. Today, 35 years later, I maintain all kinds of all-time South Jersey lists and records, and if it weren't for the record keeping and research that Ed did before cell phones, before the internet, before computers, none of these records and stats and lists would even exist right now. I once asked Ed if he had a list of all-time boys indoor Easterns winners since mine didn't go back before the early 1980s. To my amazement, he gave me a typed list that went back to 1934. Ed is literally a New Jersey Track and Field museum and his annuals and newsletters remain an invaluable resource for anybody interested in the pre-internet history of track in New Jersey. Simply put, half a century of New Jersey track history would have been lost forever if it hadn't been for Ed Grant.''
How did Grant come up with the idea or the annual and the newsletter?
The annuals started when Grant saw a Connecticut High School annual that had been out in 1966. He had started keeping records and lists in 1949. He discovered the "exchange papers" on a desk at the Jersey Journal, and started mining those papers for track and field statistics. Grant researched all the state meet results back to when it started in 1919 to put together his state records and all-time lists. The newsletter began after Grant saw Marc Bloom doing the same thing in New York.
Grant married Catherine Fellmer, known as Kay, in November of 1951. They moved to New Providence in 1956 where they raised their four children, Mary, Edward Jr., Stephen, and Jean. The Grants moved to Madison in 1994, where Ed still resides.
Ed and Catherine were married for 62 years until she passed away in June, of 2014.
Mary, 69, now lives in Loughshinny, near Dublin. Edward, 64, is a lawyer for the Federal Government who lives in the suburbs of Washington, D.C.; Stephen, 62, lives in Aiken, S.C, and works as an Emergency Room doctor in Lexington, S.C., and Jean, 57, works in retail and lives in Basking Ridge.
Grant has 11 grandchildren and 9 great grandchildren (No. 10 is due to arrive at any moment).
What was it like growing up in the Grant household?
Exactly how you'd imagine!
Both Grant boys ran track in high school, Edward at New Providence, and Stephen at Oratory. And of course, the Grant kids all helped out dad.
"I was covering state meets when I was 10 years old,'' said Edward. "My father would drop me off at one meet and I'd type agate all day, and he'd go cover another meet, and then pick me after. And my dad would take us to track meets with him and have us hawking his newsletters and annuals.''
When Grant told people at the Penn Relays and that his son (Edward) was his assistant, it was no joke!
The basement in Grant's New Providence home basically became a track and field warehouse, with stacks of agate, annuals, newsletters, and newspaper clippings.
"One time, the paper we used for the newsletters was cut too thick, so we all had to spend all day cutting 700 pieces of paper so it would it weigh one ounce,'' said Stephen. Anything that weighed over an ounce requires an additional cost to mail.
And it wasn't just track.
Since Grant covered several other high school sports, he often needed his kids to chase down scores.
"We used to call around to all the coaches and get scores from all the different games, and then we'd call it into the paper,'' said Stephen. "We got 50 cents a score.''
Since he first attended the prestigious Penn Relays Carnival at Franklin Field in Philly as a spectator in 1946 (he first covered it in '47), Grant has never missed the oldest baton-passing extravaganza in the world. That's 74 in a row!! Only the pandemic prevented the streak from reaching 75 last year.
Grant's son, Ed Jr., also has has an amazing run at the Penn Relays, attending 47!! That means the Father-Son Grant duo has combined to attend the Penn Relays 121 times!
Grant has also attended the Millrose Games in New York City 72 straight times beginning in 1945.
Nothing stopped Grant from keeping those amazing streaks alive-not a wedding, birth, baptism, birthday, or anything else was going to derail Grant from staying on track. His Penn Relay streak should be held in the same regard as Cal Ripken's consecutive games played streak. Both are unlikely to ever be broken.
"We just always knew that dad wouldn't be around in the last weekend of April, so we never planned anything for that time of year, or pretty much for any Saturday during the school year,'' said Stephen.
I had a chance to spend some time recently with Grant, who was my mentor after I landed a job at The Star-Ledger in 1989, and he waxed poetic about the old days for hours as he jogged down memory lane.
Grant regaled about the first track meet he attended way back in 1938, what inspired him to become a track and field lifer, the top NJ athletes he covered, the greatest moments in state history, the first Olympian he covered, his childhood hero, how he started his record-keeping and the publication of the NJ Track annuals, and much more.
During my visits I also threw lots of names at Grant, and then just sat back and listened to the master work his magic, spinning classic tales about iconic moments and athletes in NJ's rich history that only he could tell. It was vintage Grant.
When Milt Campbell's name was mentioned, Grant was so excited he nearly triple jumped right out of bed! He immediately cranked up the old time machine and spun back the hands of time.
"The best 200 race I ever saw was between Campbell and Aubrey Lewis in 1953,'' said Grant. (The photo of that race is above). "Campbell couldn't run for Plainfield that season because he was too old according to the state rules back then, and Lewis was the state champ for Montclair. But they met up at an AAU meet on the old straightaway at Warinanco Park for the unofficial 200 state championship. Campbell won in 20.8. What a race!''
Grant calls Campbell the greatest high school athlete ever from New Jersey, something very few would dare argue. Campbell won a silver medal in the decathlon at the 1952 Olympic Games in Helsinki between his junior and senior year at Plainfield High, and set numerous state records in multiple events. Four years later, Campbell became the first African American to win the decathlon when he struck gold in Melbourne.
"Milt could do everything,'' said Grant. "He was one of a kind.''
When another legendary name came up, Al Blozis, Grant's eyes welled up when talked about him. Blozis, who attended Dickinson High (1938) in Jersey City, was Grant's idol when he was growing up, and the best thrower in the world in the 1940's. Blozis went on to star at Georgetown, and the 6' 6 1/2', 250-pounder also played two years as a tackle in the NFL for the New York Giants.
"Blozis never lost, in high school, in college or anywhere,'' said Grant. "He won the shot put at the indoor and outdoor NCAA and AAU Championships all three years at Georgetown. And after being close to the world record, he finally broke it at the Polo Grounds, but the record was taken away the next day. They used the pitcher's mound as the circle, and since it was raised up an inch or so, they didn't count it. That didn't make enough of a difference. He still would have broken that record easily that day.''
After initially being rejected by the Army out of high school because he was too tall (6-6 was the cutoff), Blozis was inducted in the Army in 1943 after it changed its height restrictions. Blozis was killed in action at the age of 26 in France during World War II in 1945. The Giants retired his number 32, and Blozis is enshrined in both the College Football Hall of Fame and the USA National Track and Field Hall of Fame.
"Al Blozis was the greatest thrower in the world at the time, but he was much more than just a great athlete,'' said Grant. "He was such a great person. Everyone in Jersey City worshipped him. They could make a movie about his life.''
In addition to the exploits of Campbell, Cartier, and Blozis, Grant put together a list of what he considers the top high school performances in state history. They are listed from the oldest to the most recent.
Eulace Peacock of Union High set the national high school record in the long jump in 1933 with a leap of 24-4.25. "It lasted two hours until Jesse Owens broke it,'' said Grant! Peacock's state record lasted 44 years. Renaldo "Skeets'' Nehemiah of Scotch Plains-Fanwood broke it at the season opening outdoor meet in 1977 with a 24-11.50 on a cold day at Kearny. Grant said it was the only time Nehemiah jumped that whole season.
Note: Since many of you may not have heard of Peacock before now, to give you an idea how great he was, Peacock defeated Jesse Owens seven of the 10 times they met in the sprints and long jump (A photo of one of the those races is above). A hamstring injury prevented Peacock from competing at the 1936 Olympics when he was a junior at Temple.
- Marty Liquori's 4:04.4 DMR split at the Penn Relays in 1967 when he anchored Essex Catholic to a victory in 10:05.6, a meet record that lasted nine years. Liquori's split was a meet record for 30 years. Oh, by the way, Liquori also split a then meet record 1:49.5 on the runner-up 4x800 in '67, and was named the Outstanding Relay Athlete of the Meet. Grant of course mentioned Liquori's 3:59.8 mile in '67, but that wasn't in a high school race.
- Barbara Friedrich of Manasquan High broke the National Record in the javelin with a 198-8 at the Long Branch Invitational in 1967 with the old implement.
- Renaldo 'Skeets'' Nehemiah - "He did things no one had ever seen done before,'' said Grant. "On a cold day at the Kearny Relays in 1977 on a runway and board that wasn't good for jumping, he goes 24-11 to break the state record that stood for 44 years. And then he runs 6.9 indoors and 12.9 outdoors at Easterns in the hurdles. And then what he did at Penn when he was at Maryland!'' Grant was referring to when Nehemiah was a sophomore at Maryland when he anchored the shuttle hurdles, 4x200 and 4x400 to victory, including a ridiculous split of 18.9 on someone's watch (not Grant's, he was on the turn), and 44.3.
- Trenton's double at Penn in 1978 when the Tornadoes won both the 4x800 and 4x400 Championship of America races. Grant said those races were about 17 minutes apart, and Freddy Gore, Aubrey McKithen, and Daryl Jeffress ran on both teams! "That's the greatest double ever by a Jersey team,'' said Grant.
- Carl Lewis Willingboro long jumped a state, and then national record, 26-8.25 at the Pan American Championships as a senior in 1979. That still stands as the state record, and stood as the national record for 10 years is now No. 4 in U.S. high school history.
- Joetta Clark of Columbia (Class of 1980) (tough to pick which race). Clark, a four-time Olympian in the 800, never lost an 800 in high school. She ran 2:04.5 in 1980, a state record that lasted 31 years. Ajee' Wilson of Neptune broke it with a 2:02.64 in 2011.
- Edward Cheserek's indoor 13:57.04 5K (a national record at the time) at the 2012 Millrose Games when he was a senior at St. Benedict's Prep. (Grant slightly preferred this over Cheserek's 14:53 course record at Holmdel Park).
- Sydney McLaughlin of Union Catholic running 53.82 in the 400H at the 2017 USATF National Championships, and placing third in the 400H at the age of 16 at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials to qualify for the Rio Olympic Games.
The first Olympian, among the dozens that Grant covered, was Andy Stanfield, who graduated from Lincoln High in 1946. Stanfield, who set the World Record in the 220 in 1951, won the gold medal in the 200, and also earned a gold on the 4x100 relay team at the 1952 Olympic Games in Helsinki.
The first of the three Olympic Games that Grant covered was Rome in 1960, when the Advocate sent him there.
What are Grant's fondest memories from Rome, which were the first Olympic Games ever televised?
"Otis Davis (who later moved to Jersey City in 1991 and worked as a truant officer at Emerson High and Union City High), finishing first in the 400m in a world record 44.9, winning by an inch,'' said Grant. "What a race!''
Note: Davis was a torch bearer at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. Grant was there, too.
Grant said the men's 4x100 relay in Rome is something he'll never forget!
"The 4x100 had two Jersey guys on it,'' said Grant. "Frank Budd (Asbury Park) led off and Dave Sime (Fair Lawn) anchored. Sime came from behind to beat the Germans in the final and the US appeared to set a new world record (39.60), but they got disqualified because the second runner, Ray Norton, took the baton out of the exchange zone. I'll never get that image out of my head.''
Grant laughs when he talks about the first time he ever saw Carl and Carol Lewis!
"That's a funny story,'' said Grant. "One day my editor called me in and said there was a soccer player down in Central Jersey who scored 100 goals. So I went down there to interview him. His name was Cleveland Lewis, a senior at old Kennedy High in Willingboro. This was back in '73. While we were sitting there talking, running all around the yard that day was his younger brother and sister, Carl and Carol. When they competed in high school, I knew I had seen them before.''
Grant also noted that Cleveland Lewis was the first African American player to ever be drafted by the North American Soccer League when the New York Cosmos selected him in the first round in 1978.
How is that for a memory!
I tried to throw a curveball at Grant. A buddy had texted me recently about an Olympic gold medalist from Jersey named Platt Adams (on the right), who won the standing high jump at the 1912 Olympic Games in Stockholm. So I tossed his name at Grant with no other info.
This would surely stump him, I thought.
No chance. Grant hit it out of the park!
"Platt Adams from Newark,'' said Grant. "Not only did he win the standing high jump in 1912, but his younger brother, Ben (on the right in the photo above), won the silver in the same event that year.''
My goodness, he's 94 and still dropping facts like that!
Grant's Opinions And Extra Notes
Here are the top athletes and coaches that Grant said he saw. This is based on their high school accomplishments.
1] Milt Campbell, Plainfield
2] Renaldo Nehemiah, Scotch Plains-Fanwood
3] Marty Liquori, Essex Catholic
4] Carl Lewis, Willingboro
5] Nick Vena, Morristown
(Note - All five are U.S. Olympians)
1] Sydney McLaughlin, Union Catholic
2] Joetta Clark, Columbia
3] Ajee' Wilson, Neptune
4] Carol Lewis, Willingboro
5] Erin Donohue, Haddonfield
1] Tom Mitchell (Lincoln and St. Peter's, protégé of Harry Coates). "He knew more about the sport than anybody else,'' said Grant. "He taught Andy Stanfield how to start."
2] Tom Heath, CBA
3] Jake Brown (Girls - Ridgewood).
4] Al Jennings (Trenton Central, boys and girls)
5] (tie) Fred Dwyer (Essex Catholic) and Frank Gagliano (Roselle Catholic)
I asked Grant what he considered the toughest current NJ high school track and field / XC records to break, boys and girls.
Girls: Sydney McLaughlin's - 53.82 in the 400H, which is the national high school record, at the 2017 USATF National Championships. She of course went on to place third in the 400H at the age of 16 at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials to qualify for the Rio Olympic Games.
Boys: Nick Vena's 75-10.25 in the shot put. Vena, who threw at Morristown, hit that bomb on the final throw of his high school career at the 2011 Meet of Champions at Old Bridge. Grant said it was a close call over Nehemiah 12.9 in the hurdles. He also said Robby Andrews' 1000m national indoor record (2:22.28 in 2009) is unlikely to be broken.
How does New Jersey track and field / cross country stack up with the rest of the country over the years?
"New Jersey is always in the top five anyway you want to measure it,'' said Grant. "Olympians, records, etc. California, New York, Illinois, Texas, and Florida were always strong in sprinting, but not in the distances. The NJ record book compares with any state (Carl, "Skeets'' (Nehemiah), (Ron) Freeman, (Robby) Andrews, Liquori, (Nick) Vena, Mark Murro, etc.).
What's NJ's top event of all-time according to Grant?
That's slam dunk for him!
The women's / girls' 800m- Starting with Joetta Clark, then Hazel Clark, Ajee' Wilson, and now current 18 year-old phenom Athing Mu.
GRANT'S OPINION ON CHANGES IN SPORT OVER THE YEARS
Grant listed the biggest changes that track and field has undergone under his watch.
"The track thing is the most important, because now they are all exactly the same,'' said Grant. "With the cinder tracks, you could have terrible ones, and very good ones. Montclair (very good), Pershing Field (JC), was like running through sand. Precisely how much it changed, no way of telling.
Timing - problem is with the longer races. Ridiculous to have a 5K record broken by hundredths of a second. Should be like the field events, where they do not count fractions of an inch.
For high schools, the biggest change is the 1600M and 3200M. Symbolizes what is wrong about the administration of American public education. What they say, must be right, that is their attitude. (These are bogus distances.). Nowhere in the world runs those distances. An example: NJ runs the 400M intermediates. Someone from NJSIAA went to a national federation meeting and was told NJ needed to comply with the rest of the country and run 300M IH. Reason NJ went to 400M was Rutgers; if they ran 300M, they would have to put a finish line at the end of the turn.
Also, great indoor events of 500y, 600y, and 1000y were lost in the change to metric. There were specialists in these events back in the day. Also, should run 55M indoors, not 60M, so there can be continuity from 60y records.
There are some things that Grant would like to see changed in the sport.
On an international level - he would like to see tracks without removable curbs; should put the hammer and javelin off site; does not like the restricted cages for the discus and hammer. If someone hits the cage with the implement, but within the sector, should get another throw.
In NJ, get away from the rule that every group and section has to be balanced with same number of schools. NPHS (New Providence, for example, switches from NJ Sec. 2 to Central, depending on the sport. Also, if a school can compete with athletes that attend another school, then NJSIAA should count the number of students in that other school in calculating which Group they are in. Another option is to allow the kids from the other schools to compete, but not count their results in the team scoring.
DID YOU KNOW
When Don Larsen pitched a Perfect Game for The New York Yankees in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series at Yankee Stadium against the Brooklyn Dodgers, Grant covered it!
Grant covered both the AAU and Olympic Trials in 1948. The AAU meet was in Marquette. It was 100 degrees, and Grant drank 16 bottles of Coke to stay hydrated! The 10K was run at night, and all the leaders dropped out, including Horace Ashenfelter. Ashenfelter, who lived in Glen Ridge, won the gold medal in the steeplechase at the 1952 Olympics.
When Gill Dodds ran a world indoor record 4:05.3 to win the Wanamaker Mile at Madison Square Garden in 1948, Grant was there. "I sat on the edge of the track for that one.''
Almost every current state indoor and outdoor record happened while Grant was either reporting, announcing, or officiating.
After covering track and field and XC for The Star-Ledger for 19 years, Grant quit in March of 1990 after an editor tampered with his All-State Team while he was covering the National Scholastic High School Track and Field Championships.
Grant covered many games played by Major League Hall of Famer Monte Irvin. Irvin, who went to Orange High School, once held the state javelin record.
Grant has contributed to several track and field publications, including Track & Field News. He has been on their masthead for decades.
74-Number of years at the Penn Relays- all consecutive through 2019
72-Number of years at the Millrose Games
3-Number of Olympics covered (Rome-1960, Munich-1972, Atlanta-1996)
Don Potts Award (2002). Eighth Recipient. Federation of American Statisticians of Track (FAST)
Stan Saplin Award, Armory Foundation, Fourth Annual (2010)
St Peter's Prep Athletic Hall of Fame (2008)
NJ Track & Field Officials Association (1989) Distinguished Service Award
NJCTC First Quarter Century Award (1983)
Hudson County HOF (1993)
Hudson County Track & Field HOF (1984) (Hudson T&F Coaches Association)
*Morris County Track Coaches Association (2000) Service Award [see below]
South Jersey Track and Field HOF (unsure which year inducted; early 2010s).
National HS T&F HOF - Inaugural Class.
Jesse Abramson Award (Penn Relays, 1985)
Steinbrenner Family Award (with his son, Ed Jr-Penn Relays in 2009)
Honorary Referee (Girls High school, Penn Relays, 2002).
USATF - New Jersey. President's Award, 1996.
Contributor, Encyclopedia Britannica, 1968 (Bicentennial Edition).
New Jersey Sports Writers Association, Journalistic Achievement Award (1994).
Ninth Annual Allen Dawson Memorial Award, National Scholastic Sports Foundation (2012).
Note: The inscription on Morris County Award (2000): "For more than 50 years you have devoted much of your time and energy to the sport of track and field in New Jersey as an athlete, coach, father, and official, and most importantly, as a writer for several daily newspapers and New Jersey Track magazine, which you founded. Your dedication to the sport and its young athletes has never known limits. You cover the sport with a passion and have influenced many of the writers who have followed you. Your stories have given recognition to athletes and coaches who might have been overlooked had it not been for you. For your dedication to the sport and to the athletes, the Morris County Track Coaches Association says, Thank You, Ed.
He's a legend! Just as much as any of the legendary track and field athletes he covered.
"Quite simply, Ed Grant is Mr. New Jersey Track and Field,'' said Bill Bruno, the NJSIAA Track and Field Tournament Director, who ran in high school at CBA in the late 1960' and early 1970's.
Tom Heath, the now retired Hall of Fame coach who won a state record 21 XC Meet of Champions titles at CBA, had so much respect for Grant that he never called him by his first name.
"Ed Grant was never Ed Grant to me,'' said Heath, arguably the greatest XC coach in US high school history. "He was always MR. GRANT to me. For over four decades, he was the internet of NJ track and XC before there was the internet. His annuals and record lists and his all-time lists were THE STORY on NJ track and XC. He remembered every fact about NJ track and XC. He is THE LEGEND of LEGENDS in NJ track and XC There will never be another like him. I am honored to have known MR. GRANT.''
Here is what several other members of the track and community had to say about Grant's legacy, and the impact he had on the sport, and on them personally.
Renaldo "Skeets'' Nehemiah - former world record holder in the 110m hurdles, first U.S. schoolboy under 13.0 in the high hurdles when he was at Scotch Plains-Fanwood High (Class of 1977).
Nehemiah wrote this to Edward Jr. -
Like so many of us former scholastic athletes, your dad Ed Grant, was the Holy Grail of sports journalism in track and field in New Jersey. I personally have a real fondness for your dad. From the first time I met him while at Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School, I knew he was special. The questions he asked came from a place of pure knowledge and passion for the sport. He always received my attention and admiration. I was honored to be interviewed by him. His writings of my accomplishments made me appear bigger than life. When I'd see him at track meets, I knew that our sport would be well covered and represented by Mr. Grant. It's no wonder that he's beloved by so many of us. Yes, our great state of New Jersey has produced many superstars. But, the star of the day will always be Ed Grant to me. Ed Grant was track and field to me. My prayers for his healing and recovery.
Len Klepack - coached both Joetta Clark and Hazel Clark during his remarkable run at Columbia-
Ed would go anywhere he could with his typewriter in tow to watch and report in person when he could. Ed loved to share his knowledge and history of our sport anytime any place with anyone who would listen- his love for his family and Ireland was also something that was just as strong.
As far as many of us who coached at that time, Ed was NJ Track, and many athletes and coaches would not have been acknowledged or motivated if it was not for Ed.
Bill Klimas - ran at Roselle Catholic in the 1960's, coached for several years, and is now an official and meet director-
Today's young track and field athletes have no connection to the concept of an encyclopedia when, with a click or two on their phones they have a history and an answer to their questions. Mr. Grant has been track and field's one- man internet server. When you ask him a name or a track and field question or remark, he will recite an almanac of information about your prompt. He is a walking, talking Wikipedia of our sport. He will share his encyclopedic facts and anecdotes enthusiastically and without hesitation. If he were to have a social media platform, his follows and clicks would be incalculable.
Ed watched as track and field changed through the years. He was there when girls joined the high school programs. He watched the track surfaces change from cinders to synthetic speedways. Winter track became indoor track and went from being run on banked, board 11 laps-to-a-mile tracks that were positioned outside in parking lots to the warm confines of field houses and "bubbles" where the races were run on all-weather 200 meter surfaces.
One of the many changes that was made to U.S. track and field was the change to metric distances. Ed was there for that too. He was around for the inception of many new events to high school track and field such as the addition of the 330 yd. hurdles which eventually became the 400 meter intermediate hurdles.
There was never a track meet that I can remember when Ed was not present. His love for booster club entree's was a little-known pleasure. He somehow managed to balance a stopwatch in one hand and a hot dog in the other and still manage to give a play-by-play about the race that was being run!
Jacob Brown - Longtime coach at Ridgewood High
When I started coaching at Ridgewood in the Spring of 1972 Ed's New Jersey Track was the ONLY source of local HS track information.
I always felt his occasional editorials were always spot on and would at times give me food for thought on the state of the sport in New Jersey. I always looked forward to his next issue and remember fondly the image of him hand delivering them at meets to those of us who subscribed.
Frank Gagliano - "Gags" is all-time great who coached at Roselle Catholic and Georgetown, and now coaches the NJ/NY Track Club
Ed cared about high school , college, professional athletes in our sport .In the 1960'sm he really loved the high school rivalries of many teams in New Jersey. I remember kidding him to do a better job writing about Roselle Catholic instead of coach Fred Dwyer's great teams at Essex Catholic.
Rich Refi - Hillsborough girls coach for several years
When we first started hosting big meets at Hillsborough back in 2003 or so, one of the first things I did was get Eddie to announce for us. He added so much to the meets through his unmatched experience, wisdom and speaking ability.
Steve Shaklee - Longtime Cherokee boys coach
"I distinctly remember when Ed started asking me about our team at meets. It meant Ed thought we were a team to watch, which meant we were getting good. It was exciting! Interest from Ed Grant was the stamp of approval. That's how significant he was. He is one of a kind . . . never to be forgotten!
Wil Rivera - ran at Old Bridge High, now coaches at South Brunswick.
When I was new to the sport, like so many, I relied on Mr. Grant's newsletters and periodicals as a source of knowledge and motivation. The typewriter font was iconic, and I strove to one day see my name and times input by the great legend from New Providence.
I relied on him to keep me informed about my fellow competitors and determined to continue progressing to be the best runner I could be, in hopes of making it to the "All Groups" meet. I will always remember him fondly and he will be greatly missed.
Karl Torchia - Current coach at CBA/formerly coached at Middletown South.
Ed Grant is a total legend . He has kept track going and kept it popular through the years with his track statistics and his annual reports. Ed has meant more to NJ track and XC than most people will ever realize . His love for the sport is unmatched, and I am not sure anyone will be able to love and care for this sport as much as Ed has. His brain has absorbed knowledge and statistics over the years that a track nut would love to have. Ed's memory is so remarkable. Years ago I had an incredibly fast freshmen 4x400 (I think 3:28.9 ). I was talking to Ed at a track meet and wondering where my freshman 4x4 would ever be in the history of New Jersey freshmen 4x4's - without blinking an eye he came up with two teams that raced each other at Warinanco Park that were faster in the early 90's (I think), and he knew their times. The fact that he could recall that so fast and know the exact stats was so amazing to me. He has a gift from God and he ran with it. Ed is one of the most remarkable human beings I've ever met.
Stan Fryczynski - Current coach at Secaucus and long time friend of Grant
Ed was inducted into the Hudson County Track Coaches Association HOF in 1984. It was for his years of service to the sport on the Jersey Journal, NJ Track, and the Star Ledger. Ed would also help me for years in researching Hudson County greats for our HOF and providing statistics when I served as HCTCA President. I would have to write fast because he would pop them right out of his head!
Wikipedia has nothing over this man!!
Over the course of my 47 years coaching and officiating, it has been a tremendous honor to know this man. He is such a fixture to a major track event. He is always looking for the good in people; a very gentle and pleasant man.
Elliott Denman - Award-winning track and field journalist and one of Grant's best friends.
Mr. Ed Grant, you are the best, the very best, a true gold medalist, top of the heap....Rehab well, dear friend, fellow track and field lifetime devotee, Penn Relays roommate, and so much more.
Oh, those room-sharing nights at Penn....So much to discuss, so many great deeds to analyze....So what if I had to stagger back to Franklin Field by 6.30 am Saturday to officiate the 10,000m racewalk? No problem, the discussions rolled on and on and on until the wee hours...Tales of Al Blozis, John Borican, Glenn Cunningham, Johnny Gibson, Horace Ashenfelter, Milton Campbell and his brother Tom, Andy Stanfield, Johnny Kopil, and on and on and on, until we both conked out....only to resume the next day. We shared so much, and it was wonderful. See you soon, dear man. Take care, be well, be safe...Cheers once more.
Craig Masback - Former Chief Executive Officer of USA Track & Field, now the Nike, Inc. Vice President of Sports Marketing for Greater China, Japan, & Global Business Affairs.
Masback wrote this to Edward Jr. -
The gathering for Elliott (Denman) helped remind me of the key role that certain legendary figures have played in our sport over the last half century (and more), including your dad. Their dedication to the sport and tireless promotion of it helped generations of athletes, including me. Put simply, your dad's enthusiasm and energy made a difference in my life, and I want to say "thank you."
My thoughts and prayers are with you, your dad, and your entire family.
Lisa Morgan - Ran at Columbia High/Coached at Seton Hall University and Columbia/Current coach at TCU.
He's a GREAT man! A living legend! The BIBLE of the sport! The Emperor of NJ Track & Field.
He always greeted me with a hug, a big smile. He was more than a journalist to me....he was like a Godfather, who watched me grow up in this sport from a little four-year old girl running, to an accomplished coach.
Fred Samara - Head men's coach at Princeton University.
Ed was and is NJ track and field. Thousands of young kids, college athletes, and pros were covered by Ed, and his love for the sport always came through in his articles. Also, Ed's knowledge of the sport and memory were second to none.
Vince Cartier - Former national indoor high school record holder in the mile at Scotch Plains-Fanwood, longtime friend of Grant.
In 1989-90 or so, Ed had a heart attack and was in the hospital. Visiting was for family only! Well, I went to see him, knew the room, and just walked in. No one was there to stop me or ask if I was family. I just appeared. Ed looked at me and said, 'Oh God, look who it is, if anyone could get by the nurses it would be Cartier.' We had a nice visit.
For me whenever I think of NJ Track, I think of Ed Grant. I am not sure when, but Peter Farrell once told his girls on the Princeton Track team as he pointed over to Ed. He basically said, and this is not an exact quote, "see that man over there, that is Ed Grant! He has witnessed every major track meet since forever and has forgotten more about track than everyone here.
He is also very proud of his children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren, always bragging about them and their success! You may not see Ed for a year or two, but when you did see him, you just pick up where you left off, like no time has ever passed. That to me that's what true friends do!
(That's Cartier on the right and another NJ legend, Tom Fleming, on the left, with Grant at Holmdel Park in the early 1990's)
Martin Booker - Meet of Champions winner for Camden in the 400h in 1984/All-American at Villanova. Coached at Camden/now coaches at Willingboro.
Grant's writings kept me informed and intrigued how to coach and develop my athletes to someday be the team/athletes to talk about.
Grant inspired all of us, not as coaches only, but as men and women, to model respect, compassion, and sportsmanship on and off the field for the sport of track & field. Thank you Ed Grant for the time shared, memories held, and the love you gave us all in New Jersey Track & Field!''
Len Pietrewicz - coached at Randolph for five decades and is a close friend of Grant.
"To all the younger coaches, Ed Grant is our connection to the past. Never forget what he did for our sport. I hope we keep his spirit alive.''
I've been saying for the past few years that I'd like to see the NJ Meet of Champions named after Grant, and the Press Room or Press Area in the bleachers at Franklin Field named in his honor.
Yes, Grant has been inducted into just about every possible T&F Hall of Fame, and there's a small meet in Jersey City name after him, but how about something big in New Jersey named after him. At the very least a track or a stadium with his named emblazoned across a sign above the entrance!
Campbell has a park and a street named after him in his hometown of Plainfield. Carl Lewis has the athletic facility at the University of Houston and the stadium at Willingboro High named after him, the track at Neptune High was recently named after Ajee' Wilson, and Blozis has an apartment building in Jersey City, and an athletic center in Frankfurt, Germany named after him.
What about Grant!
The time is now, while Grant's stopwatch is still ticking, for someone to step up and honor Grant the way he deserves to be recognized. Let's find a way to give him a well deserved victory lap before he crosses the finish line.