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  • Jesse Owens

    Jesse Owens won four gold medals, 100-meters, 200-meters, 4x100-meter relay and long jump, at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin to the dismay of Adolph Hitler. Returning home, he found the financial lure of professional baseball enticing. Owens joined the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro National League and ran exhibition matches prior to games against any and all comers, including, college students, automobiles, motorcycles and horses. Enlivening the legend of Cool Papa Bell, Owens refused to race the speedy center fielder.

    Owens’ presence made a great deal of difference in the gate receipts of the Depression Era. Eventually, he gained part-ownership of the Toledo-Pittsburgh Crawfords and used his influence and reputation to convince parents to allow their sons to join the team. No easy task, since it meant that the young men would be gone for months and even years at a time. Fellow track star and Olympic gold medalist (1924 Long Jump) DeHart Hubbard owned the Negro American League Cincinnati Tigers.

  • #2
    According to the film, The Jackie Robinson Story, Robinson's brother beat Owens in an exhibition race.
    “it is impossible to understand America without a thorough knowledge of baseball” -Mcafee

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    • #3
      Why wouldn't Jesse Owens race Cool Papa Bell?
      "He's tougher than a railroad sandwich."
      "You'se Got The Eye Of An Eagle."

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      • #4
        Originally posted by TonyK
        Why wouldn't Jesse Owens race Cool Papa Bell?
        Possibly to keep the legend of Bell being the fastest man alive in tact.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by TonyK
          Why wouldn't Jesse Owens race Cool Papa Bell?
          jesse was a smart cookie. he knows that he has nothing to win and everything to lose taking a man on in his arena. running around bases is a little different than a straight line sprint.
          nooooow, if cool papa wanted to race him on a 100 yard dash
          for cash
          all cool papa would see is the ass
          as jesse beat him in a flash.

          (with all due respect to cool papa!)
          Johnny
          Delusion, Life's Coping Mechanism

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          • #6
            So if they raced it would have to be around the bases? You are right that Jesse might have not been as fast on the diamond. Bell should have been willing to race Jesse in the 100-yard dash in my opinion.
            "He's tougher than a railroad sandwich."
            "You'se Got The Eye Of An Eagle."

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Sashag
              According to the film, The Jackie Robinson Story, Robinson's brother beat Owens in an exhibition race.
              Mack Robinson was a world class sprinter himself. He finished second to Jesse in the 200 m at the 1936 Olympics.
              Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

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              • #8
                originally posted by bkmckenna
                Jesse Owens won four gold medals ... at the 1936 Summer Olympics.... Returning home, he found the financial lure of professional baseball enticing. Owens joined the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro National League and ran exhibition matches prior to games against any and all comers, including, college students, automobiles, motorcycles and horses.
                It was sad, actually, that it had come to this. This man had brought prestige to his country and to his heritage by winning gold medals on the world stage, then when he came home the only thing we could find for him to do for a few bucks was to run races against horses and other such stunts before games.
                "Someone asked me if I took steroids. I said, 'No. I had a contract with Wheaties.'"
                --Bob Feller

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by TonyK
                  So if they raced it would have to be around the bases? You are right that Jesse might have not been as fast on the diamond. Bell should have been willing to race Jesse in the 100-yard dash in my opinion.
                  i'd put my money on jesse. with all due respect to cool papa.
                  Johnny
                  Delusion, Life's Coping Mechanism

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by 2Chance
                    It was sad, actually, that it had come to this. This man had brought prestige to his country and to his heritage by winning gold medals on the world stage, then when he came home the only thing we could find for him to do for a few bucks was to run races against horses and other such stunts before games.
                    At least he didn't have to turn to pro wrestling and other demeaning stiff, like Joe Louis.
                    Dave Bill Tom George Mark Bob Ernie Soupy Dick Alex Sparky
                    Joe Gary MCA Emanuel Sonny Dave Earl Stan
                    Jonathan Neil Roger Anthony Ray Thomas Art Don
                    Gates Philip John Warrior Rik Casey Tony Horace
                    Robin Bill Ernie JEDI

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                    • #11
                      could say the same about babe didrikson - at least she was smart enough to hire an agent who helped her start the lpga to make a little cash

                      btw - this ties in with your wrestling theme captain (cold nose not albano) - she married one

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Captain Cold Nose
                        At least he didn't have to turn to pro wrestling and other demeaning stiff, like Joe Louis.
                        its amazing what you might do if faced with Uncle Sugar coming after you with some horrendous past due tax bills
                        Johnny
                        Delusion, Life's Coping Mechanism

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Cool Papa vs. Jesse, redux

                          Just thought I'd chime in here. I addressed this matter in a post quite a while back and though I'd slightly revise my position with a handful of new variables (running around the basebaths vs. running a straight 100 yards/meters), I still say a race between Owens and Bell would be much closer and that the former (though a great sprinter and a personal hero of mine) would NOT embarrass Cool Papa, no matter WHAT the track/surface/arrangement.

                          If Owens races Bell in approximately 1940, one should bear in mind the following factors:

                          - Owens was nearly ten years younger in Bell; a 27-year old Owens facing a 37-year old Bell might NOT have been a great race, but I'd have liked to see Bell race Owens during the former's peek speed years (1929-1935) or as close to Owen's Olympic victory as possible. Bell during his days with the St. Louis Stars was appreciably faster than anyone in the league. A great deal of anecdotal evidence from myriad players supports this. But what a dream race--Bell circa 1931 racing Owens circa 1936.

                          - Jim Bankes states--in his book on the Pittsburgh Crawfords--that Jesse Owens challenged a young Negro Leagues speedster named David Whatley to a pre-race exhibition race of 100 yards (in a straight line, no less) and LOST, the only time this was known to have happened. It is even suggested that Whatley pulled away from Owens. Here's the rub: it was a well-known fact that Whatley was the 2nd fastest man on the Homestead Grays during his tenure with them between 1939-1944; the fastest hombre was still Cool Papa Bell, despite his increasing age. If Whatley was truly able to beat Owens, it is NOT unreasonable to think that Cool Papa would not have been "looking at Jesse's ass" at the finish line of a race. Hardly...

                          - Though Owens was--because of his official position with the Crawfords--careful not to race Bell and demythify the latter's legendary status as "the fastest man in baseball" (possibly impacting gate receipts?), it is worth considering another possibility. If Owens was as smart about sprinting/running/competing as I'm sure he was, it's more than a faint possibility that he was also careful about not demythifying HIMSELF. Who had more to lose in one of those exhibition races? A man who made his living racing man and beast? Certainly not the aging Cool Papa, already a legend and still the fastest man in the Negro Leagues and a well-schooled, well-paid baseball player. If Cool was able to circle the bases in just over 13 seconds while in his mid 40s (this is documented in numerous sources), he'd have been able to do such much more quickly in his late-20s; a sprint savvy-Jesse would've been able to do the simple math in his head and determine that racing Bell (who'd have run much faster in a straight line) might've proven a much more daunting task than racing a horse. It's also well worth pointing out that in 1946 Owens barely beat (by a full stride) George Case, the fastest man in the Major Leagues and base stealing champ of the Washington Senators, in one of these exhibition races. Case wasn't even in Bell's league when it came to speed. Ol' George barely got a look at Jesse's ass, though Jesse at 33 had probably lost a step or two...

                          A few other bits of trivia to keep in mind. It's pretty well known that Owens was FAR from unbeatable and in fact, he was NOT the top 100 meter sprinter in the world in the months leading up to his Olympic triumphs. That distinction belonged to a man named Eulace Peacock, who'd beaten Owens 7 of 10 times in pre-Olympic races (he was also co-holder of the world record in the 100m). Had Peacock not seriously injured his thigh/hamstring twice just prior to Berlin, the United States would undoubtedly have swept (along with Ralph Metcalfe in the 100 and Mac Robinson in the 200) the sprint events and Jesse Owens might not have become an athletic/cultural icon. It's also worth noting that Ralph Metcalfe's running style--with long legs and a lanky body much like Cool Papa--nearly caught Jesse in the 100 with a blistering finish. Though this proves absolutely nothing about Bell, it is nonetheless fodder for thought...

                          As I said in my earlier post, if Cool Papa was even .3 to .5 seconds faster than his nearest Negro Leagues rival in getting from home to first (some people felt that George Giles might've gotten to first more quickly than the long-legged Bell), this disparity suggests that Cool's speed was something seemingly unearthly but very real. An Owens-Bell race, rather than being a foregone conclusion, would've been quite special. With his gift for hyperbole, Satchel Paige did claim that "If Cool Papa had known about colleges or if colleges had known about Cool Papa, Jesse Owens would have looked like he was walking." Maybe ol' Satch knew something we aren't capable of grasping...

                          If you're interested in my original post, check out the following link:

                          http://www.baseball-fever.com/showthread.php?t=30272

                          Thanks for hearing me out--

                          CoolPapa65

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                          • #14
                            Here's the difference between Bell and Owens regarding speed.

                            Jesse Owens put his abilities on the line since his high school days and played on the largest stage in the world...the Olympic Games. To suggest in any shape or fashion that he would be afraid/reluctant to race Bell is an insult of the highest order. The fact is that Bell's speed is myth and that is all it is. There is not a single shred of actual evidence of any of his times down the line or circling the bases, let alone his 100 yd/meter times. It is pure hyperbole. Owens races have been meticulously timed and recorded since his high school days. He tied the world record for the 100 yard dash while a senior in High School (East Technical High School, Cleveland, Ohio).

                            It's time that myths are separated from reality. Was Bell fast? Probably, depending on context. But please do not insult sports fans and historians by comparing him to a legitimate, authenticated, world class sprinter of the highest magnitude. Let's leave it that Bell was considered the fastest NL'er, while Owens proved to the world he was the fastest man alive.

                            There is not an ounce of evidence that Owens ever raced, let alone lost to a man named David Whatley. Again, it's an insult and a disgrace to Owens' legacy, as well as an insult to the track and field world in general. Supply the date, distance, race conditions (handicap), time, as well as supplying photographic/movie evidence to support the claim.

                            For the record, the reasonable alledged times of Bell (some are so ridiculous that it's insulting) are slower than the documented times of Mickey Mantle, both down the line and circling the bases. In Mantle's own words he stated that if had a coach he could have been a world class sprinter. He did NOT state that he was the fastest man in the world, nor that he could beat the current sprint champion.

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                            • #15
                              I'll take Bell and Mantle any day. What the hell is a sprinter good for anyway? Perhaps working as a ball boy in tennis matches.

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