Saturday, November 19, 2016

V 6 N. 86 Passing of a Bronco , A Sighting of Zatopek, and a MAC Publicity Photo

John Bork (NCAA 880 Champ 1961, 1:48.3)  informed us of the passing of his teammate Richard "Dick" Greene in Las Vegas this past week.  Greene was a stalwart on that herd of Broncos that dominated nationally under coach George Dales.     Those guys included Bork, Jared Ashmore, Richard Mach, Dick Pond, and a host of others.   As a high school senior in 1961 I witnessed Bork, Greene and Mach sweeping the Mid American Conference (MAC) 880, completely dominating the rest of the conference.  They also won the Drake Relays 4x 1 Mile during their careers.   Greene set the school record in the mile at 4:05 in the early 1960's. In life he went on to teach school and coach  in Las Vegas high schools.   His last years were in a tough struggle with Parkinsons Disease although he still walked with the aid of a walker up to his last days.


Thanks for the remembrance of Richard Greene.  Since I too live in Las Vegas, I  was able to visit Dick every week.  It as sad to see such a fine athlete go through the agony Parkinson's Disease.  It seems as if some  great athletes are predisposed to PD.  John Walker and Max Truex for two.  My former Residence Advisor at Georgetown, Dr. Jack Reilly is another.   In fact, Jack felt a connection with Dick, as t hey were both 1963 graduates of their respective schools, ran fast miles (4:01 for Jack), and both had PD.  For the past two years Jack was having Track and Field News delivered to Dick at his group home.  Jack is also famous for his anchor leg of the two mile relay at the Millrose Games in 1962.  I was present for that meet at MSG.  It was also the meet that John Uelses broke the 16 foot barrier in the pole vault for the first time. Jack's split was 1:47.9 for the half mile on an 11-lap per mile track.  

Don Betowski

On another note,  I've been reading one of the three new biographies of Emil Zatopek,  "Quicksilver, The Mercurial Life of Emil Zatopek" by Pat Butcher.  It is filled with interviews with Zatopek and his contemporaries, and just a very knowledgeable piece of work.  Butcher himself was a decent runner and an outstanding journalist, so it more than gives credence to the man and his times.  During the Prague Spring in 1968 when the Czech government under Alexander Dubcek tried to forge its own path toward socialism, the Russians put tremendous pressure on the Czechoslovakians to toe the hardline.  The resistance put up by the Czechs led to  an invasion of the country two months before the Mexico City Olympics.  There was a lot of underground struggle going on and clandestine radio stations broadcasting support for Dubcek.  Zatopek was one of the most famous people in the country and he supported the resistance.   During the resistance  he was interviewed clandestinely by a French journalist in front of the cameras about his role.  In this clip he is speaking in an abbreviated French to the journalist.  I know many of you won't understand the interview, but the closeup of Zatopek more than reveals some of his character.  I think you will find it interesting.  He is rubbing his wrist and explaining while on manoeuvers with the army he fell out of a tree picking cherries.  He more or less downplays his role in the movement which makes some sense when one considers the consequences of acting openly against  the Russian occupiers.    Interestingly Zatopek and his wife Dana were allowed to travel to observe the Olympics that year, and  Vera Caslavska the Czech gymnast who actually won more medals than Zatopek, and who was more openly critical of the Russian invasion of their country was allowed to go and compete in Mexico City.  It is  remembered that she turned her back on the Russian flag twice during medal ceremonies. For this she was ostracized on her return.  Both the Zatopeks and Caslavska were offered asylum by western countries but they chose to return to their homeland.   It indeed was a heady year with the Tommie Smith , John Carlos events of that Olympics.   Zatopek for his deeds was gradually demoted out of the army where he held the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.  He was sent to work in a uranium mine for ten years, possibly more. An equivalent to a prison term.  He eventually recanted his signing  of a letter that publicly supported the movement and was allowed to leave the mine.     This was not an uncommon thing in those days.  In 1947 the whole Czech ice hockey team was sent to the same mine after they had already won the World Championship.  They had gotten in an altercation in a bar with some secret police who were keeping an eye on them and as a result several cops got figuratively 'sent into the boards'.

Here's the interview.  Zatopek Interview   Note you have to wait about 5-10 seconds for it to start rolling.

And lastly Steve Price sent us this publicity photo from about 1971 of Bowling Green State University's great Steeplechaser, cross country, and 5000 runner Sid Sink.    Sid adds the comment below.

 "The gal next to me is Kathy Baumann, runner-up Miss America!  This picture was taken prior to the CCC  meet held at BGSU".  Sid

We're going to take a little hiatus with the blog, as I'm scheduled for some surgery on Monday and will be on the mend for a few weeks.  Happy Thanksgiving.

1 comment:

Wilfred Schnier said...

The goodness and evil of man transcends the lines of country and time. What Zatopek and others endured in their Czech culture is what others encounter do today in the US. To some turning one's back on the 1968 Russian flag is a good thing but kneeling before an American flag is not. To me it is the same gesture against those in power trying to stay in power at another's expense. I also enjoyed the stories of those with Parkinson's Disease, amazing athletes at one time who can no longer be recognized as such. There are so many people who look as if they had never done anything but whose stories are remarkable. Thanks for keeping those stories alive. My prayers are with you for your surgery.

V 8 N. 52 Some Kids are Really Showing the Veterans a New Twist on the Sport

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