Hal Bateman, an authority on international track and field for more than 50 years, died April 10 in Corpus Christi, Texas, following a brief illness. He was 81.
“I never met anyone who knew more about the sport than Hal Bateman,” said Ollan Cassell, a 1964 Olympic gold medalist who served as USA Track & Field’s chief executive from 1966 to 1997 and a member of the National Track & Field Hall of Fame. “He was an outstanding writer, researcher and story-teller, and a great friend.”
Jim Dunaway, editor of American Track & Field Magazine and a National Track & Field Hall of Fame member, echoed Cassell’s sentiments. “Whenever someone asked me a question about the sport I couldn’t answer, I’d call Hal,” Dunaway said. “If he didn’t know the answer right away, he’d say, ‘I’ll get back to you in an hour.’ And he always did.”
Born Nov. 28, 1931, on Staten Island, N.Y., Harold Bateman was a 1949 graduate of Middle Township High School in Cape May Court House, N.J. He attended Rutgers University and, following two years in the U.S. Army, earned a degree in journalism from Michigan State University. He competed in track and cross country during his high school and college years.
Bateman was a sportswriter for the Chicago Tribune and United Press International’s Chicago Bureau before becoming the managing editor of Track & Field News in 1960. That summer he covered the Olympic Games in Rome. During three-plus years at T&FN he reorganized the magazine’s editorial side, recruiting a number of new American contributors and increasing the use of action photography.
From 1963 to 1969 Bateman was the sports information director at Western Michigan University. He was the SID at the U.S. Air Force Academy from 1969 to 1984 and in 1974-1975 he served as president of the College Sports Information Directors Association (CoSIDA).
While in Colorado Springs, Bateman did volunteer work for the U.S. Olympic Committee. He served as a USOC press officer at eight National Sports Festivals and at the Olympic Games in 1984 in Los Angeles and in 1988 in Seoul.
In 1982 Bateman began a two-decade relationship with Indianapolis-based USA Track & Field (then known as The Athletics Congress/USA). He was a general partner with End of the Line Race Consulting in Coronado, Calif., when Ollan Cassell hired him in 1986.
Bateman served as USATF’s director of promotions for the inaugural World Indoor Athletics Championships, held in Indianapolis in 1987. Remaining with USATF as an associate director of media information, he served as the organization’s historian, edited media guides, and headed special statistical projects. He was in charge of field operations at numerous U.S. indoor, outdoor and collegiate championships from 1983 through 1995.
Bateman served as U.S. team press officer at track events around the globe, including the 1985 USA-USSR-Japan meet in Tokyo; the 1985 World Cup in Canberra; the 1987 World Championships in Rome; the 1989 World Cup in Barcelona; and the 1994 World Cup in London.
After leaving USATF in 2002, Bateman relocated to Corpus Christi and continued to work on track and field statistical projects. He belonged to the Association of Track and Field Statisticians (ATFS), the Federation of American Statisticians of Track (FAST), and Track and Field Writers of America (TAFWA). He was a member of the CoSIDA Hall of Fame’s Class of 1982.
Bateman is survived by his wife, Carol, and a daughter, Karen Corvington of Akron, Ohio. He was preceded in death by a son, Keith.