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July 03, 2013

Namesakes - Van Horn Field and Frank “Count” Van Horn

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On the left, Frank Rodman and Frank R. Van Horn, 1931; on the right, Van Horn Field, around 1924.

The “father of athletics at Case,” Francis R. Van Horn became President of the Case Athletic Association in 1900. At that time the football program was expected to cover its expenses through ticket sales. As the season records of the previous several years were 3/5/0, 3/3/2, and 0/5/2, fans were not flocking to the games and many who attended did not buy tickets. Van Horn solved the freeloader problem by enlisting students to put up a fence around the field. With sufficient funds, Van Horn’s next step, in 1902, was to hire Joseph Wentworth as football coach. The first three Wentworth seasons Case’s record was 6/3/0, 8/1/0, 7/2/0.

Van Horn's management of the football program was so successful that the treasury had amassed $27,000 by 1913. This sum, plus additional funds contributed by students and alumni, supported purchase and remodeling of a church at E. 107th and Deering. The Case Club, as it was named, was the first Case student center.

Van Horn was also a notable scholar. His B.S and M.S. were awarded by Rutgers in 1892 and 1893 and his doctorate was awarded by Heidelberg University in 1897. He was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and was awarded the honorary Doctor of Science by Rutgers in 1919. He was hired in 1897 by Case School of Applied Science as Instructor in Natural History and Mining. Two years later he was promoted to Assistant Professor Geology and Mineralogy. In 1902 he was promoted to Professor of Geology and Mineralogy, a position he held until his death in 1933.

He traveled widely, on his own and accompanying students on practice term trips, and collected a 10,000-sample rock and mineral collection, fully cataloged at his death. Professor Van Horn was secretary and fellow of the Mineralogical Society of America, a fellow of the Geological Society of America, life fellow of the Ohio Academy of Science, fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and and Trustee of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. He published journal articles in geology and mineralogy.

Van Horn’s nickname, “The Count,” was bestowed upon him by the Case students because of his goatee and somewhat brisk and stiff mannerisms acquired during his studies in Germany. The goatee he shaved in 1925 in honor of Case’s defeat of arch-rival Western Reserve University in the annual Thanksgiving Day football game - after 13 consecutive losses. The nickname he kept for the rest of his life.

The esteem in which he was held by Case is evidenced by the many tributes. The 1925 student yearbook was dedicated, “To Dr. Frank Robertson Van Horn in recognition of his frank and friendly attitude towards the students and his untiring efforts to make Case athletics a success, we dedicate the 1925 Differential.” the Van Horn Alumni Scholarship was established in 1934, the library and conference room in the Metallurgy Building was dedicated to him in 1953, the newly renovated athletic field was renamed Van Horn Field in 1958.

Posted by jmt3 at July 3, 2013 06:14 PM

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