The OTA was born at a dinner held at the Olympic
Club, Downtown Clubhouse on February 10, 1930.
All 48 of theoriginal
Charter Members had competed for the Club at one time or another and
done so at least thirty years before (a provision of the first OTA
Constitution). Belonging to
The Olympic Club was never a condition of
Most of the original members had competed for the Club back before the
turn of the 19th century.
They were among the first generation of
sportsmen to participate in the explosive growth of
that followed the rise of American cities and the spread of playing fields
gymnasia after the Civil War. It was a golden age of amateur
athletics and indeed, in those years,
The Olympic Club was the arbiter
of amateurism on the Pacific Coast.
Many of the original Old Time Athletes belonged to a great Olympic Club
track and field team that
defeated all comers from about 1888 to 1892.
It was the finest team on the Pacific Coast and
certainly one of, if
not the finest, track teams in the country.
There was Robert MacArthur, for instance, who held Pacific Coast
records in the mile and half-mile.
Later he was made a director of the
Club. There was Herbert Moffitt who set a Pacific Coast
in the high jump on November 27, 1889. And there was George
Baird, the OTA's first secretary and
Horace Coffin, host of
the first dinner, who held Pacific Coast records respectively in the
mile run (1891) and the one mile walk (1892). George
Jordan, another OTA charter member,
was the team captain in 1890.
OTAers James Jervis and Martin Espinosa were also
of that unbeaten 1890 team. Other track stars from the gilded
age were O'Kane brothers,
Frank and James.
Felton Taylor belonged to a champoinship Olympic Club football
team (for which Leonard Wood,
later a four-star Army general,
played and captained) and William Kenealy was a fine Club
boxer. There were many other OC stars among the original
forty-eight who held similar athletic honors
and distinction. Suffice
it to say that many years later, on the eve of the Great Depression, they
felt a similar urge to relive the old memories and the contests in
agreeable and joint company over
dinner at The Olympic Club. Later, the
semi-annual dinner became the cornerstone of the Association,
Roundtable, the Association newsletter, recording the names of the
Like any social organization, the OTA has had its ups and downs. The
years just after World War II saw
a sharp fall-off in membership, but
Walter Nieland brought plenty of energy and imagination to
Association and it began to grow once again. Some years ago, the
thirty-year exclusionary rule was
abolished and now, aside from
sponsorship, the only requirement for OTA membership is
in some organized sport.
Every dinner features a speaker and there have been some great ones
over the years: tennis star Jack
Kramer, pitcher Lefty
Gomez, T-Formation pioneer Frankie Albert and so many