Jack I. Turnbull
Hall of Fame|
Turnbull has been called the "Babe Ruth" of lacrosse, and few, if any, could equal his playing ability. Many consider him to be the finest player they have ever seen. Billy Shriver, radio commentator, said in 1947, "Jack Turnbull is what I call the complete athlete. By that I mean when he played a game, he gave it everything he had - spiritually, mentally, physically. Although he was an individual standout, he was always the team player, always playing for the best interests of the sport."
Jack was a four-time captain of lacrosse teams - Poly, 1926; Johns Hopkins, 1932; the U.S. Olympic Team, 1932; and Mt. Washington Club, 1934. He earned his bachelor's degree in engineering at Hopkins in three years and was a three-time All-American. Jack's coaches normally assigned him to close attack, but occasionally shifted him to center to get the ball on face-off. They sometimes played him at center (or midfield) to out-play the opponent and hold down the score and temporarily, at close defense to tie up the attack of the opposition (especially when an extra man developed). He dodged and scored under tremendous defensive pressure; he fed with precision; he intercepted passes from the mouth of his defenseman's stick, and used a unique hip-check to put a defenseman with the ball on the ground. He was admired and looked up to by his teammates because he performed unselfishly, rarely fouled, and his leadership, skill, character and accomplishment developed an esprit de corps and respect seldom, if ever, attained by others.
At Poly, Jack played halfback in football, utility man in basketball, attack in lacrosse, and was president of his senior class.
At Hopkins, in addition to being class president, he participated in football and lacrosse and helped found an ice hockey team. He was selected on the All-Maryland football teams, the All-American lacrosse teams and on Father Bill Schmeisser's Honor Roll of Lacrosse Tradition. He performed in the 1928 and 1932 Olympic playoffs and was captain of the 1932 U.S. Olympic team that beat Canada two out of three games in Los Angeles in August 1932. His first team lacrosse participation at Mt. Washington began in 1928 and continued for eight years after graduation from Hopkins.
The Mt. Washington Club fostered men's field hockey, tennis, an ice hockey team (1932 and 1933) and Jack participated. He was assistant lacrosse coach at Gilman School in 1934. In 1936, Jack made the U.S. Olympic Team playing men's field hockey in Berlin. The USA All-Star Lacrosse Team (including Jack) toured England in 1937, and won seven straight games.
In business, he worked largely for the American Radiator Company, Baltimore Division - until World War II developed in Europe. Jack enlisted in the Maryland National Guard in 1940, becoming a second lieutenant and a pilot by the end of that year. He was promoted to First Lieutenant, Captain, Major and eventually to Lieutenant Colonel.
On October 18, 1944, flying from somewhere in England, he and his squadron carried bombs to drop on industrial Germany. On the return flight, German flack downed the plane in Belgium, and the sisters of a nearby convent, with the help of older men, made caskets and temporarily buried Jack and his comrades. His remains were removed to Henri-Chappelle Cemetery. In 1947, he was permanently buried, at his mother's request, in the cemetery at All Hallows Parish in Davidsonville, Md., near his father's grave.
Jack's honors included The Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal, Purple Heart and others. The Mannheim Airport was named Turnbull Field. Jack was a man of very few words and did not marry. Two lacrosse trophies are memorials attesting his prowess; the Jack Turnbull Trophy and the Turnbull-Reynolds Trophy.