Mel Hein Jr., a pole vaulter who was a member of two USC track national title teams, died Wednesday of a brain infection. He was 79.
Hein Jr. set the world indoor record of 16 feet, 5 3/4 inches in the pole vault in 1965 at the Cow Palace in San Francisco. He later won three City titles as the track coach at Taft High School in Woodland Hills.
Mel Hein Sr. was an assistant coach at USC from 1951-65 and no coach around USC bested his background.
He played for the New York Giants from 1931-45 and was the NFL’s MVP in 1938 despite playing center. Hein Sr. was a member of the NFL’s 50th and 75th anniversary all-time teams. He was an all-pro five times and led Washington State to an undefeated regular season and Rose Bowl berth in 1931. Hein Sr. coached the defensive line, linebacker and offensive line at USC.
He also served as the team scout, and often missed USC games because he was on the road watching the next week’s opponent.