On this day 96 years ago, Clyde Mellinger was hired as our school’s first Athletic Director ahead of the school’s inaugural year.
From the Brooklyn Daily Eagle on June 16, 1922:
Mellinger is Appointed
Leadership in sports at State College, Pennsylvania, was a factor in the choice of Clyde Mellinger, B.S., as a member of the faculty of Stony Brook School for Boys, the new Presbyterian institution. At Stony Brook Mr. Mellinger will supervise sports and will have charge of instruction in the sciences.
Before joining the Stony Brook faculty, Mellinger starred at Cumberland Valley State Normal School, which would later be renamed Shippensburg University, putting together a memorable career that earned him posthumous induction into the Shippensburg Athletic Hall of Fame in 2015.
During his career that spanned 1913-1916, Mellinger pitched nearly every game for the Raiders, the highlight being an 18-strikeout performance in a 6-1 victory over Kutztown in 1915. The mark remains a Shippensburg record and stood as the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference record for 99 years. In his final game for the Raiders, he pitched a 2-0 shutout against the Pennsylvania Railroad YMCA, one of the best amateur teams in the state.
Upon graduating, Mellinger attended Ursinus College, became the principle at West Fairview School, and served in the Navy during World War I. When he returned home, he earned a chemistry degree from Penn State where he furthered his baseball exploits with a 9-0 record as part of a team-record 30 consecutive wins that stands to this day. During his time at State College, he earned a roster spot on a semi-professional team in Philadelphia and rubbed shoulders with a teammate who would go on to build a grand house in the Bronx: Babe Ruth. He earned enough money from baseball to pay his way through college.
After leaving Penn State, he accepted Frank Gaebelein’s job offer and remained at Stony Brook for four years, coaching the football, basketball, and baseball teams while teaching science.
Robin Lingle ’60, Stony Brook’s sixth Athletic Director, recalled Mellinger’s early influence in a Founder’s Day speech in 1991:
The area that our present athletic fields occupy was a twisted maze of trees and brush. Mellinger located a field just off Route 25A near where the 7-11 is today, erected goal posts, and lined the field himself. There were 27 boys in the entire student body of which only 12 showed any interest in football, and some of those were raw beginners at the game. As for attractive uniforms, the yearbook reveals what appears to be a combination of unlettered, unnumbered, black, padded shirts and baggy, brown pants that reportedly were purchased by the individual students themselves.
Somehow, against such odds and with some earnest encouragement from the Headmaster, Clyde Mellinger put a team on the field to compete in interscholastic athletic competition during those very first days of our school’s existence.
Just two years after that inaugural season, Mellinger led the squad to an undefeated 5-0-1 season against some of the top competition on Long Island. The team finished an astonishing 10-2-1 in his final two seasons with the Blue and White.
On the basketball court, Mellinger led the Brook to a win in its inaugural game, despite the football season ending just two days earlier. That first season was his only losing season on the hardcourt and in 1925-26, his final season, he led the Brook to a 14-2 record. The baseball records for those early seasons are incomplete, but the Brook more than held its own despite low numbers.
Mellinger’s time at Stony Brook was brief, but his excellence and hard work laid the foundation for the future growth of Blue and White Athletics. The dedication in Res Gestae 1926 bears witness to the influence he had on those around him:
Dedicated to Clyde Landis Mellinger, whose steadfast loyalty and untiring efforts in behalf of the students of Stony Brook have won him the respect and admiration of all, we gratefully dedicate this first issue of Res Gestae Classis.
After Stony Brook, he joined the faculty at Atlantic City High School where he rose to Chair of the Science Department before retiring in 1957. He passed away on June 21, 1969.