|Pat Perrine 2012 HOF|
Leon ‘Pat’ Perrine did not grow up idolizing any sports figures. He wasn’t recruited to Idaho and didn’t have an outstanding prep record. In fact, he didn’t have any high school sport experience, period.
Perrine came to Idaho with the sole intent of enrolling in the agricultural college after growing up on a farm and attending a small high school at Nezperce, Idaho. When the strong, athletic freshman showed up on campus, he was urged to try out for the football squad.
Despite never even watching a game, Perrine made the football team, and with a bit of reputation as an all-around athlete, he also tried out for the Vandal basketball, and track and field teams with the same result.
At the time, freshmen did not play varsity, but Perrine learned his sports and excelled across the board. In his Idaho career between 1917 and 1920, Perrine earned nine varsity letters between his three sports.
Perrine was a member of the famed basketball teams, coached by fellow Vandal Athletic Hall of Famer, Clarence ‘Hec’ Edmundson, which earned Idaho the ‘Vandals’ moniker with their aggressive, fast-paced playing style.
While he was a strong lineman on the Vandal football squad and a talented post player for a successful basketball team that won the 1919 Northwest Conference title with a 10-2 record, it was in track and field where Perrine made his most prominent mark.
The athleticism that made Perrine stand out in football was his key for success in track and field. A pentathlete and decathlete at Idaho, he held bests of 43 feet in the shot put; 10-feet, 10-inches in pole vault; six-feet, 7/8 of an inch in the high jump; 15.4 in the 120-yard high hurdles, and 10.1 in the 100-yard dash.
He was chosen team captain of the Idaho track and field squad in 1920 and, on July 5 that year, he took fourth at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in the pentathlon with a score of 26 points. One week later, he finished seventh in the decathlon with a score of 6,122. His finish netted him a spot on the 1920 U.S. Olympic team as an alternate in the pentathlon.
At the conclusion of the Games, Perrine was hurried back to Moscow so he could take part in his senior football season. Later that year, he helped lead Vandal men’s basketball to an 18-5 record under first-year head coach David MacMillan.
After his graduation from Idaho in 1921, Perrine moved on to Cascade, Mont., where he took on a new role as a teacher and coach for six years. He was a prominent citizen in the town who served as a coach for more than three decades.
To recognize Pat’s efforts, Cascade High School named its track and field/football stadium in his honor and it is now known as Perrine-Forsley Field.
The University of Idaho has a well-known tradition of outstanding all-around athletes on the track and in many sports. Pat Perrine was the first great athlete of that legacy as he helped pave the way for many generations of future multi-athletes to excel for the Vandals.