Millard T. Lang, 89, Olympic lacrosse team member

August 07, 2002|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Millard T. Lang, a member of the 1932 U.S. Olympic lacrosse team and one of Sports Illustrated's top 50 greatest sports figures of the 20th century from Maryland, died of pneumonia Sunday at the Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care. He was 89 and lived in Towson.

Born and raised on Fort Avenue in Locust Point, Mr. Lang's prowess as an athlete developed early.

He earned letters in football, soccer, basketball, lacrosse and track as a student at Polytechnic Institute. He also was one of two athletes there to letter in five sports in one year. In addition, he was captain of Poly's soccer team for two years and was All-Maryland in lacrosse and soccer.

After graduating from Poly in 1930, he enrolled at the Johns Hopkins University and earned letters in football and lacrosse. He also played soccer on an informal basis.

He was a member of the national champion Johns Hopkins lacrosse teams in 1932 and 1933 and was captain of the 1934 team. He was selected as an All-American four times at three positions - third defense, second attack and out home. Never a flashy player, he developed a reputation for dependability and reliability.

He shared the field with lacrosse legends Jack Turnbull, Francis "Hen" Beeler and Fritz Stude at the 1932 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, where Hopkins defeated Canada before a roaring crowd of 145,000.

"In lacrosse, he was one of the most versatile men ever to play the game," observed The Evening Sun in a 1981 article.

"He was one of the great lacrosse and soccer players, absolutely one of the best," said Bill Tanton, retired Evening Sun sports editor.

After graduating from Hopkins with a bachelor's degree in engineering, Mr. Lang began a 36-year career with Westinghouse Electric Corp. At the time of his retirement in 1972, he was in sales of aerospace and Air Force command systems.

Mr. Lang continued his athletic interests while working at Westinghouse, playing for the Baltimore Soccer Club in the American League. The team played at O'Donnell Field in East Baltimore. In 1934, he led the league in scoring with 34 goals.

"[The] following year the league's high scorer had 11 goals," reported The Evening Sun. "No one ever matched Lang's scoring mark in that league, which had players, most of them foreign born, from all over the country."

"Millard Lang was the only college man on the field in those days," Hank Linz, who had known Mr. Lang since his youth, said in an interview with The Evening Sun.

"Most of the fellows who played for New York and Philadelphia and the other teams were from the old country. He was always polished and gentlemanly. He was never a roughneck. He played center forward and, boy, could he score goals," Linz said.

In 1936, Mr. Lang was a member of the Cleveland Graphite Bronze soccer team, and the next year played with the Chicago Sparta and American Eagles soccer teams. He was a member of the Sparta team that won the national soccer championship in 1938 and 1939.

After his playing days ended, he became president of the Maryland State Soccer and Football Association and was president and part-owner of the Baltimore Rockets, a professional team that played in the American League.

In 1949, he was elected to the Maryland and D.C. State Soccer Association Hall of Fame. A year later, he was elected as a charter member of the National Hall of Fame for Soccer. In 1979, he was elected to the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame, and the Maryland Athletic Hall of Fame in 1981.

Honors continued coming his way. In 1983, he joined the Old Timers Soccer Association of the Maryland Hall of Fame and the Johns Hopkins University Athletic Hall of Fame for Soccer and Lacrosse. In 1997, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame for the Greater Baltimore Chapter of the Lacrosse Foundation.

The crowning moment of his career came in 1999, when Sports Illustrated named him one of the state's top 50 athletes of the 20th century.

"He was a modest and humble man who never talked about his athletic achievements," said Leslie Bracken, a daughter who lives in Lutherville.

Mrs. Bracken said she did not know about her father's accomplishments until attending his induction ceremonies for the Maryland Athletic Hall of Fame.

Mr. Lang enjoyed attending alumni lacrosse games at Hopkins and, after retiring from Westinghouse, liked going to Pimlico.

During the 1950s and 1960s, he played banjo with the Towson Texans and shared an interest in square dancing with his wife of 65 years, Marguerite Rose. She died in 1999.

He was a member of Towson United Methodist Church.

Services were held yesterday.

In addition to his daughter, survivors include a son, William R. Lang of Williamsburg, Va.; another daughter, Barbara Haskell of Ocean Pines; a brother, Calvin Lang of Baltimore; a sister, Jane Moore of Arnold; 13 grandchildren; and 30 great-grandchildren.

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