Thorp, c. 1922
New York, New York
July 6, 1942|
|Coaching career (HC unless noted)|
|Head coaching record|
Thomas J. "Tom" Thorp (c. 1882 – July 6, 1942) was an American football player and coach, sports writer, and football and horse racing official. He served as the head football at Fordham University from 1912 to 1913 and at New York University (NYU) from 1922 to 1924, compiling a career college football record of 21–17–4.
Thorp was a native of New York City, born and raised in the neighborhood known as the "Roaring Forties." He enrolled at Columbia University where he played at the tackle position for the school's football teams in 1903 and 1904. He was among the first non-Ivy League players to be named to Walter Camp's All-America team, and was selected as an All-American in both 1903 and 1904. In October 1905, amid the movement to eradicate professionalism from college football, Columbia's faculty dropped Thorp from the university. The New York Times wrote that Thorp had been "the backbone" of the team and reported that Thorp's expulsion was "the worst blow that Columbia football has received" and a move that "cast the gloom of despair" over the prospects for the Columbia football team in 1905. Upon being expelled from Columbia, Thorp sought admission to Cornell, but he was not able to acquire advance standing. Thorp next went to the University of Virginia, where he was enrolled and played football.
In the late 1900s, Thorp was hired as a sports writer for the New York Journal. He also worked for a time for the New York American and the New York World. He continued to work as a journalist until 1936, when he became employed as a full-time official at horse racing tracks. Following his death in 1942, he was remembered as "a bona fide newspaperman, which is to say ... he was an able, news-chasing, news-writing reporter."
Coaching and officiating
New York University
Thorp was the 18th head coach for the New York University Violets located in New York, New York and he held that position for three seasons, from 1922 until 1924. His career coaching record at NYU was 14 wins, 10 losses, and 2 ties. This ranks him fourth at NYU in total wins and third at NYU in winning percentage.
When he was not coaching, Thorp also worked as an official for college football games. He officiated at many of the significant eastern games and was the first easterner to be invited to officiate at a Rose Bowl Game. He continued officiating at football games until 1940.
Horse racing steward
In his later years, Thorp lived in Rockville Centre, New York. When pari-mutuel was permitted in New England in 1933, Thorp became employed in the horse racing business. He served as the presiding steward at several race tracks, including Suffolk Downs, the Pagodas at Rockingham Park, Narragansett Park, and Tropical Park in Florida. He was also the general manager at the Empire City track in Yonkers, New York for a time. When Seabiscuit was matched against War Admiral, Thorp was the presiding steward at the race. When post time passed for the race, a crowd of reporters gathered, and it was Thorp who finally delivered the news that "Seabiscuit scratched."
In late June 1942, after presiding over the races at Suffolk Downs, Thorp suffered a heart attack at a Boston hotel; he died a week later at Wyman House in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Thorp was unmarried and was survived by his mother and two brothers.
Head coaching record
|Fordham Rams (Independent) (1912–1913)|
|NYU Violets (Independent) (1922–1924)|
- "Tom Thorp, Turf and Grid Official, Dies". Wisconsin State Journal (UP story). 1942-07-07.
- "Columbia Is Crippled By Football Verdicts: Capt. Thorp Dropped and Carter and Starbuck Cannot Play". The New York Times. 1905-10-12.
- "Death Takes Tom Thorp From New England Racing Scene". Lowell Sun. 1942-07-07.
- "'Tom' Thorp at Virginia: Columbia's Ex-Captain Played on 'Scrub' in Yesterday's Practice". The New York Times. 1905-10-31.
- John F. Kenney (1940-07-08). "The Lookout: Tom Thorp Leaves ... a Fond Memory". Lowell Sun.
- College Football Data Warehouse Fordham Coaching Records
- The Ultimate Guide to College Football, James Quirk, 2004
- New York University Violets coaching records