Happy 100th, Mr. Owens

By Jason Priestas on September 12, 2013 at 4:01p

Happy birthday to James Cleveland "Jesse" Owens, who would have been 100 today.

Before Owens sailed across the Atlantic to pimp-slap Adolf Hitler at the '36 games, the "Buckeye Bullet" torched the Big Ten and collegiate scene in the states, winning a record eight individual NCAA championships, four each in 1935 and 1936.

That's why he's known as the first King of Ann Arbor:

Owens's greatest achievement came in a span of 45 minutes on May 25, 1935, during the Big Ten meet at Ferry Field in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he set three world records and tied a fourth. He equaled the world record for the 100 yard dash (9.4 seconds); and set world records in the long jump (26 ft 8 1⁄4 in or 8.13 m, a world record that would last 25 years); 220-yard (201.2 m) sprint (20.3 seconds); and 220-yard (201.2m) low hurdles (22.6 seconds, becoming the first to break 23 seconds).



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Doc's picture

His story is just remarkable.  What he did was outstanding.  Urban would have used the guy as his H back.  Happy 100th Mr. Owens.  You are still the pride of the Buckeyes.

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OSUStu's picture

Agreed.  He really should be a source of pride for all Buckeyes.  I did a blog post a little earlier today for anyone that is interested in reading/watching more articles and documentaries.

If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.  ~ Bruce Lee

Denny's picture

Absolutely the best. My favorite Buckeye of all time, without question. Jeremy Schaap's biography of Owens is highly recommended.


Jason Priestas's picture

Thinking that after we get through Eat Too, Brutus, we should hand out books for contest winners. And rig one, so I win this book.

Denny's picture

Or! Give books to drunk people who are about to go to a football match AT E2B. Because, you know, that's a good idea.
Yeah, your idea is better.


Maestro's picture

Probably the best non-scholarship athlete the Bucks have ever had.  Probably. ;-)

vacuuming sucks

Buckeye in Illini country's picture

I think you can remove the "non-scholarship" part.  He IS the best athlete ever to lace them up for the Buckeyes.  His time in the 100 yard dash (on dirt and with poor spikes) would give him a 10.18 sec 100m dash based on average speed.  He could have gotten under 10 sec, which puts him in a class not many can say they are a part of.

Columbus to Pasadena: 35 hours.  "We're on a road trip through the desert looking for strippers and cocaine... and Rose Bowl wins!"

prevetbuck's picture

I was weight lifting in JO South Rec this afternoon, and they had set up a table to give out flyers about him (as well as pedometers and snacks) as part of celebrating his 100th. It was great to see.
I watched a documentary about him that aired on BTN (or PBS?) soon after coming to OSU, and I had never known the extent to which he was basically shafted in this country after the 1936 Berlin Olympics. I'm really happy that OSU has done so much to honor him.

40 Degrees North's picture

If there had to be a list of the greatest Buckeye ever, it would be very hard to find someone to top Jesse Owens.

AngryWoody's picture

Hitler was all like "O shit! Did you see that Jesse Owens guy? He whooped my Aryans! WTF LOL?"

Our Honor Defend!

spqr2008's picture

One of the things Schapp discusses in his bio of Owens is that Hitler had to have his expectations managed for the track events by Himmler and Goebbels because the realistic members of his staff realized he shouldn't be allowed to look perturbed during the games, due to the large (although admittedly spun and controlled by Goebbels) media coverage of the games.  Hitler didn't like that Owens won, but it has been somewhat overplayed by hollywood ( who did the US propaganda during WW2).  Schapp has multiple reports of Hitler meeting with Owens and shaking his hand.

Orlando Pancakes's picture

SPQR, that is really interesting. I had never heard that before, about Hitler actually shaking his hand. I will definitely have to read about Schapp's report. I'm assuming you're talking about the elder, Dick Schaap. His son, Jeremy, is really good too. Have you heard or seen how in Bobby Fischer's later life he basically went all anti-Semite on people, including Jeremy Schaap? That is also something that most people don't know and it's very sad considering what a great chess champion and hero that Bobby was to a lot of people.  

JKH1232's picture

If I remember correctly, that was one of the things that always bothered Owens- Hitler, notorious genocidal racist, at least had the stones to congratulate him on his victory, both in person and after. (Hitler sent him an autographed picture of Hitler, which is all kinds of hilarious)  FDR never invited him to the White House, called him, or even wrote him a letter or telegram to congratulate him.  Hosting sports champions wasn't that rare in those days- it wasn't until Eisenhower that a president acknowledged Owens' achievements. 

spqr2008's picture

Right, in the biography that's also one of the things that was said, that in Hitler's Germany, he received far more respect as an athlete than he did in some places in the U.S.

GrayDay's picture

There was an interesting story a long while back about the so-called "Hitler trees."  Apparently Hitler gave small sapling trees to each gold-medal winner.  Jesse presumably came home with 4 of them and someone tried to figure out what happened to them.  Several he claimed to have given away, but an old campus legend holds that one was planted I think just south of Thompson library and still grows today.  I think it proved to be just a legend, but was a great story.  Perhaps some of you on campus can check it out. 

ScarletNGrey01's picture

Was watching a program on the Big Ten channel and they said he is arguably the most famous / important athlete in the history of the Big Ten.

The will to win is not as important as the will to prepare to win. -- Woody Hayes

t-dub's picture

this Man was a leader, amazing what he was able to on the track.  the physical and mental strength is other-worldly

"What is our aim, I can tell you in one word. Victory" Winston Churchill

CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

Great Buckeye!  Jessie is a legend!  Happy Birthday Buckeye Bullet!  You'll always be remembered as one of the best!!
Go Bucks!

BuckeyeChief's picture

Simply the greatest.

"2014 National Champions...deal with it!!!"

ChillitownBuck30's picture

Before Owens sailed across the Atlantic to pimp-slap Adolf Hitler at the '36 games, the "Buckeye Bullet" torched the Big Ten...
Absolutely awesome!!  My stomach hurts from laughing...

“Show class, have pride, and display character. If you do, winning takes care of itself.”