Win "Skinny" Whipple (1915–1937)
aka: James Winfield Whipple
James Winfield “Skinny” Whipple of Arkadelphia (Clark County) was a track and field star in high school and college. He set numerous records in the broad jump while at Arkadelphia High School and at Louisiana State University. He set an Arkansas high school long jump record of twenty-four feet, which stood for more than fifty years.
Win Whipple was born in Crowley, Louisiana, on September 10, 1915, to Fredrick and Pearl Maxwell Whipple. He had three sisters and two brothers. Shortly after Winfield’s birth, the family moved to Arkadelphia, where his father opened a restaurant.
At Arkadelphia High School, Whipple participated in football, basketball, and track and field. Although he trained in all of those areas, the broad jump (now known as long jump) became his specialty. When Whipple entered high school athletics, track coach Bill McMillan recognized his talent and began to train him.
Whipple competed frequently in high school track and field meets, scoring first in as many as five events at a time. By 1932, his junior year, he was a rising star.
In the broad jump, Whipple gained almost a foot of distance each year: he jumped 20 feet 9 inches at age thirteen; in 1930, he jumped 21 feet 5 inches; in 1931, he jumped 22 feet; in 1932, he jumped 23 feet 3 3/4 inches for a new state record. In 1933, while still in high school, he jumped 24 feet 10 inches in a meet against Gurdon (Clark County), Prescott (Nevada County), and Sparkman (Dallas County), but the jump did not qualify as record breaking because it did not take place at a national meet.
On May 5, 1933, during a state high school meet at Clarksville (Johnson County), Whipple jumped beyond the pit length with a jump that measured 24 feet 6 inches. The officials ruled the jump illegal, and the head official credited Whipple with a jump of 24 feet, the length of the pit.
Whipple received a track and field scholarship to Louisiana State University. He set a record of 24 feet 6 5/8 inches in the 1934 Track & Field Union. Also in 1934, Whipple competed against Jesse Owens at the Interscholastic Track meet in Chicago.
Whipple developed a “stone bruise,” a bruise on a sole of the foot, after he hit a starting board at a state meet in Conway (Faulkner County). While in college, his coaches suggested he have it examined by New Orleans doctors. Whipple went to Memphis, where Dr. Campbell found cancer in the bones of the left calf and amputated the limb above the knee.
Almost a year after the operation, Whipple’s condition worsened. The amputation came too late, and cancer had spread to his lungs and heart. On February 2, 1937, he had a seizure and slipped into a coma. Around 6:45 p.m., Whipple died at his home in Arkadelphia. He was buried at Rose Hill Cemetery in Arkadelphia.
In 2001, Whipple was inducted into Arkansas Track & Field Hall of Fame for the overall Arkansas high school long jump record of 24–0 feet in 1933, which held for fifty-one years.
For additional information:
Schanfish, Greg. “Winfield ‘Skinny’ Whipple.” Clark County Historical Journal, 1994, 23–30.
“Win Whipple Is Called By Death.” Daily Siftings Herald. February 3, 1937, p. 1.
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