View Full Version : Milton D. Latimer

11-24-2008, 09:30 AM

I'm guessing not many people on this site know of a man named Milton D. Latimer. It's a name I grew up with, but his real following was in South Western New York State. Unfortunately this man had nothing to do with Steelers football, but he was a key figure in creating players that would later play for many of the pro teams around the country in the early years of it's inception from what I understand. Now I won't take much credit for this article, as there were very few sources I could draw on for my research. This is especially true of the first half of this article. A great deal of what I could find on him was in an obituary and a small write up for him at the Cortland C-Club. The rest I got from a person that knew him personally. I debated heavily on writing it at all before I figured his story needed told. And to be perfectly honest with you all, this story is just too good to let it eventually disappear completely. So Steelers oriented or not, please bear with me on this one.

Milton D. Latimer was born and raised in Cortland, NY where he graduated from their High School. In the mid thirties he attended the Cortland Normal School. Cortland Normal School was founded in 1848. It officially became a four year school in 1868, and in 1941 via legislature and the Board of Regents it became a four year college many called Cortland State Teachers College. Today it is officially the State University of New York in Cortland, or SUNY Cortland for short. While at Normal, Latimer participated on their famous undefeated football team under Coach Carl "Chugger" Davis helping to win over 90% of their games over the 4 years he played there. He was one of their best players and played end and halfback during his first two years there. Coach Davis then made him the Quarterback of the Red Dragons because he found him to be one heck of a blocker. Today you wouldn't want your quarterback doing any such thing as being an aggressive blocker, lest he break a fingernail. Back in the 30's you were expected to play hard nosed football and the pass wasn't really the important part of a quarterback's duties.

During Latimer's time at Normal the Red Dragons had a record of 22-2-4 with a couple of those seasons being undefeated from what I understand. Yes, McNabb knew they could tie games back then. (I knew what some of you were thinking)... In Latimer's senior year the football team drew a surreal, for it's time, crowd of around 5,000 fans to an away game in Buffalo just to see the Red Dragons play against what was considered one of the toughest teams of the time, Canisius College. As Steelers fans I'm sure you understand the whole take over of the stadium at away games. This kind of started that tradition for northern football teams. Something that irritates most southern and western teams to this day. The 1937 Didascaleion wrote of Latimer that he was “a combination of brains, physical ability and experience. A deadly tackler and smart signal caller.” Tackler you ask? Yes. Back in the 30's you were expected to play both sides of the ball in college and sometimes in the pros too. Hell, Tony Dungy did it for Pittsburgh during one game and Troy Polamalu did it Thursday night at the end of the game. Back then, though, it was for more than a play or series. It was for the whole game. Talk about tiring. Terrell Owens would have had a tantrum right quick if they still did that.

While at Cortland, Latimer played football, baseball, and served as the president of the American Physical Education Association. He was also one of only a few people selected to participate in the Senior Luminaries. Luminaries, for those that don't know, are somewhat the equivialant of an intellectual Pep-Squad, they help other students in acedemics and fields of study that mirror their own, since they themselves are the best in those said fields near their graduation time. Give or take basically. So this was a pretty great honor for Latimer and would help in the shaping of his life after college. In 1937 Milton graduated from Cortland Normal School with a degree in Physical Education and began his coaching and teaching career. First stop... Portville Central in Portville, New York. Between 1937 and 1943 he coached his football teams to a combined record of 43-6-2 with, count them now, three undefeated seasons!

His coaching career was interupted shortly while he went off to serve through the end of World War Two in the U.S. Army from 1944-1946 where he was wounded and awarded the Purple Heart. I wish I had more to offer you in terms of his patriotic time overseas, but as I mentioned in the start, very little real information on this man's life outside of his career exist to this day.

Upon his return he accepted a coaching job for Bolivar Central in Bolivar, New York in 1946. Ok. Now here's where I tell you how I knew so about this guy and why. I'm not from New York. I'm originally from Arizona and grew up everywhere imaginable out west of the Rockies. The only reason I'm in Missouri is because my wife's family is from out here and I have a bad ticker now, so I like to keep her close to her family. I'm not much of a traverler by nature so even being here in Missouri is more accident than design. But my father is from New York. Bolivar, New York to be exact, and Coach Milton D. Latimer was his mentor, coach and friend during my father's Middle School and High School years. During this time my father played on his basketball team, and track team, and even mowed the man's yard. He wasn't allowed to play football for him only because his mother thought it was too dangerous. Yet she didn't seem to have a problem letting his teen aged rear end work on the drill rigs that his father owned. Go figure. That's a mother for you.

Much of whom my father became in life was due to this man. And let me tell you, my father became one heck of a man. U.S. Marine during the Korean War, a Police Officer in southern Arizona, and later a federal agent for the Treasury Department. Always doing what was best for the whole over the individual, he believed in doing what was Right even if it meant he'd personally suffer. He didn't just set an example, he lived the example. I have never seen a person,that had met my father, that didn't respect him completely. He attributed a great share of that outlook to Coach Latimer. It was an example he passed on to his own children also. So in the end, I owe a great deal to this coach also, even though I had never met him. I have a great deal of respect for him. Now back to Latimer...

In Bolivar, Coach Latimer again had great success throughout his 8 years there. His football teams compiled a 49-15-4 record and a stunning seven consecutive Alle-Cat Championships. Wow. His team did not lose for five of those seasons in a row. His record 33-0-4 was the second longest winning streak in Section Five history. He Coached for them from 1946-1955 and was so well loved that the 1951 graduating class dedicated it's entire yearbook to him. They wrote this about Latimer, “whose superior leadership has built character as well as champions.” They added that Latimer’s “name will always be associated with the highest tradition of outstanding sportsmanship.”

In 1955 a new High school, Iroquois Central in Elmira, New York hired Latimer as it's first atheletics director and football coach. His teams did very well in the Erie County Interscholastic Conference. Unfortunately I don't have the numbers of win/loss to put up for you, but he was so loved in Elmira that they named their field after him after he died. The Milton D. Latimer Cathedral Field. He opened up the facilities of the new school to the community and fostered spirit amongst the whole school by holding basketball games for first through sixth grades on saturdays on his own time. He also directed many community recreation programs and encouraged physical education on many levels at the school. He was such an outstanding figure in the hearts and minds of people in and around Elmira that the Iroquois Central Hall Of Fame made him their first inductee. In 2007, Cortland's C-Club Hall of Fame did the same.

Milton D. Latimer died in 1966, leaving behind a wife and two daughters. Such was the legacy of the man, that even though he died fairly young, he still managed to impact hundreds of people. Thus becoming an eternal legend locally, and for a short time in the middle of the 20th century, a nationally renown coach that was sought after by colleges, and by rumor, a few pro teams. He chose instead to work with children his whole life. One of those was my father.

Brian L. Baldwin

11-26-2008, 04:12 PM
You are right... I had no idea who he was or what he did. This is my "Learned something new today!"

So was the primary resource you used for your research your dad?

11-28-2008, 12:40 PM
Primary source was his obit/induction bio. Father filled in the blanks and told me some interesting stuff. Some things made it into the article the rest did not. I did however write it more for him than for any of us. He's 75 and has cancer and this was his childhood mentor. He must have read this article now about a dozen times. lol

My father is one of those rare men that inspire a boy to want to be a responsible and honest family oriented man. This article was the least I could do for him.


11-29-2008, 10:06 PM
My father is one of those rare men that inspire a boy to want to be a responsible and honest family oriented man. This article was the least I could do for him.

Any son or daughter than can say that about parent is truly blessed to have had such a person be a positive influence for themselves and all the lives that I'm sure they touched during their lifetime.

Well done :yesnod: