Carl Joyce

Boston Commerce


880, Mile

In 1947 “Track and Field News” the self-proclaimed bible of the sport began selecting the high school “Athlete of the Year” award. Its very first recipient was a young man from Boston Commerce High School. Carl Joyce, after all, had that year set the national high school record in the mile run. (For you track junkies out there, the next year the Athlete of the Year award went to Bob Mathias, one of the greatest decathletes of all time.) On June 28, 1947 at the CYO Invitational Games in Brookline, Ma Carl Joyce ran the mile in 4:20.0. Chesley Unruh of California had set the previous record of 4:20.4 in 1925. In 1947 the world record in the mile was 4:01.2 and Roger Bannister had not yet broken the 4:00min barrier. Just one week before his amazing performance in the mile, Carl had set the Mass State record in the 880 run with a time of 1:55.1. There is one newspaper clipping that recalls the day when Carl Joyce at one indoor meet set the National High School record in the 880 with a time of 1:56.6 and later ran the mile in 4:22.8. After graduating from Commerce H.S. Carl went on to Seton Hall Prep where he met the man who would become his long time coach Frank Sevigne. After two years of prep school and with two National Prep school mile and half-mile championship behind him he followed Coach Sevigne and his new job as the head coach at Georgetown University. It would be at Georgetown that Carl would make his biggest impact. Looking at three consecutive issues of “Ye Domesday Booke” Georgetown’s yearbook we see the name of Carl Joyce prominently mentioned, particularly as a member of an unbelievable two-mile relay team. A 1951 excerpt states, “The thinclads grabbed Sunday headlines in the sport sections for ten weeks in a row. The two-mile relay team was the pride of Georgetown and the talk of the sports world. The record wrecking quartet won eight successive races, setting seven consecutive meet marks and three consecutive world records enroute.” One highlight in Carl’s career must have been on his first trip back to Boston as a sophomore at Georgetown. As a local newspaper recalls, “This barrel-chested aggressive sophomore form Boston made his first trophy start in 12 months in the Lapham 1000 as he ran away with it in a speedy 2mi. 12second performance…. The former high school of Commerce standout did it through the agency of a long two-lap sprint at the end, which caught the swift Swedish star Ingvar Bengsston napping and sent the partisan congregation into spasms of hysteria. Only twice in history has the 2:12 clocking been surpassed in the race—and there is no telling how rapidly this Georgetown relay runner on a “night off” might have make the journey under pressure.” Later that same evening Carl anchored the winning two mile relay in setting a new meet and Boston Garden record of 7:41 not quite as fast as their world record time of 7:39.8 set the week before at the Milrose Games. A week later Carl made his collegiate debut in the mile. With 160 yards to go in the race as Carl was just starting to make his move the runner in front of him fell causing Carl to first hurdle and then fall himself. The first runner stayed down but not Carl. Quickly rising to his feet, he put on a furious kick just to be out leaned by Browning Ross of the Penn Athletic Club. Carl’s time was 4:17.2. Carl would go on to win the Boston Athletic Association Lapham 1000-yard run four consecutive years, and his Georgetown team would reduce the world record in the two mile relay several more time. After graduating from Georgetown Carl served in the United State Marine Corps as a 1st Lt. And served from 1953 to 1955. There he continued running for the marines at Quantico Marine base where he also starred. He was president of the Georgetown University Track and Field Club, and a member of the Georgetown Athletic Hall of Fame. Carl Joyce met an untimely death in 1967 when he was struck by a car while he walked down 16th street in Washington D.C. He left behind his wife Mary Jean, who remains active in the track and field world. As a matter of fact the reason she was unable to be present today is her commitment to the Milrose Games, his three children, James, Michael and Kelly Ann are are here today to accept this award. Also his ___ grandchildren are also present.

Class: 1947  Inducted: 2006

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