Thursday, January 21, 2010

To You, Dr. Finney And Mr. Campbell

A construction project has been ongoing opposite Princeton Stadium for the last few months. Twice buried by snow, this project is rapidly reaching its conclusion.

Finney and Campbell Fields, which sit to the right of Princeton Stadium as TigerBlog looks out his window, are in the final stages of being converted from natural grass to FieldTurf. Each field is now lined for football, and Finney Field now has women's lacrosse lines, while Campbell has men's lacrosse lines. The project is part of the gift from Bill Powers, for whom the field inside Princeton Stadium is named.

From a practical sense, it makes perfect sense for a college (or high school or even rec department) to put in FieldTurf fields. Maintenance costs go way down, and they provide reliable practice venues for teams when natural grass fields would be unplayable, some for days or weeks at a time.

TigerBlog has parked his car adjacent to these two fields for more than two decades. Actually, he's gone through a bunch of cars in that time. And these two fields sat next to Palmer Stadium before it was torn down and next to Princeton Stadium since it was built.

In all that time, it never really occured to TigerBlog to see why these fields were called Finney and Campbell. With a little help from the Princeton Companion online, TB was able to learn a lot in a short time.

Finney Field is named for John M.T. Finney, who graduated in 1884 and apparently is the only person ever to play football for both Princeton and Harvard, where he attended medical school. Finney went on to build the medical school at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore into a leader in the field, and he was part of the first modern surgical treatment of soldiers in battle during World War I. He came very close to being the president of the University after Woodrow Wilson left in 1910.

Two of his sons would go on to become surgeons, and one of his sons and a grandson would become Princeton trustees, as he had been. The grandson, Redmond Finney, was a football/lacrosse star at Princeton before graduating in 1951. That Finney was the headmaster at the Gilman School in Baltimore from 1968-92, the longest tenure ever by a Gilman headmaster.

Finney Field has been called that since 1957, when the family donated the field in John M.T.'s memory, 15 years after he passed away at the age of 79.

Campbell Field's namesake didn't have quite the same life as John M.T. did. Tyler Campbell, a member of the Class of 1943, was a first-team All-America lacrosse goalie in 1941 and 1942 who never got a chance to play his senior season.

Campbell left Princeton after his junior year to join the Army during World War II. According the Companion, Campbell:
"graduated from Officers' Candidate School as a 2nd lieutenant, he led his men on the invasion beachheads of Sicily, Salerno, Anzio, and southern France, was wounded twice and twice promoted in the field, reaching the grade of captain. He was killed in action in France while commanding an infantry company of the 7th Army, two years after leaving college."

His family created Campbell Field in 1962 in his memory.

TigerBlog has seen three Princeton varsity sports played on Finney Field - men's and women's lacrosse and sprint football. While Finney Field lacked any kind of conveniences (such as an actual scorer's table, let alone a press box), it was still a charming place to watch a game. TB will always remember it as the first place he saw Princeton men's lacrosse, and much of what TB first learned about lacrosse and Bill Tierney was on Finney Field.

The conversion from grass to FieldTurf also means the end of one of the great kinds of games any fan could hope to see - a mud bowl. What fan doesn't miss seeing a torn-up field, with players on both teams completely covered in mud? Well, that's never going to happen on FieldTurf, which of course is part of the point.

TigerBlog remembers two great mud games involving Princeton teams. One was the 1993 Princeton at Dartmouth football game, which featured sun, rain, snow and mud, all in about a 20-minute span. The other was the 1996 Princeton at Hobart men's lacrosse game, which featured essentially ankle deep mud as Jesse Hubbard scored eight goals in a 16-8 win. The picture of Hubbard as he shoots behind his back for one of the goals, completely covered in mud, is a classic.

There have been other great moments in the rain and mud as well, games that TB has been at and historic ones that were before his time. All of those vanish with the growth of FieldTurf.

Finney and Campbell Fields somewhat vanished long ago, overshadowed by the more popular game venues at Princeton. Most people who go by the fields every day, like TB, couldn't identify the fields by name.

But they have names. Finney Field, for pioneering surgeon and Princeton loyalist John M.T. Finney. Campbell Field, for war hero Tyler Campbell.

Their names shouldn't be forgotten.


Anonymous said...

You mentioned Finney's connection to Gilman. Did you know that Campbell was a Gilman graduate?

Anonymous said...

Their names can not be forgotten when history lessons such as this are presented. Thank you.

Unknown said...

Reddy Finney was not merely a star, he was a first team All-American in both lacrosse and football, a distinction shared only by Jim Brown.

I believe he was also a varsity wrestler, at a time when PU wrestling was good. He was legendary as an assistant coach at Gilman, when he was also headmaaster.

I had never known the connection to Finney Filed.