Analysis. History. Perspective.

Sports Then and Now



Billy Mills: A Giant Killer and Trail Blazer 1

Posted on December 08, 2009 by Rojo Grande
Billy Mills is the only American to win a gold medal in the 10,000 meter run.

Billy Mills is the only American to win a gold medal in the 10,000 meter run.

“You have to look deeper, way below the anger, the hurt, the hate, the jealousy, the self-pity; way down deeper, where the dreams lie, son. Find your dream. It’s the pursuit of the dream that heals you.”

These are the words of a Lakota (Sioux) father to his young son struggling with the whys of poverty, adversity, and racism in 1940s America.

When the young Oglala Lakota brave was 12 years old his father died, leaving him an orphan. Wisely, he took his father’s advice and pursued sports in┬áhis quest to find that dream.

Football and boxing filled the void for a time, but the young lad discovered a special connection to his inner dream when he took up distance running.

“All I had was the pursuit of a dream: I wanted to be an Olympian,” the boy would later say.

He was a natural. He found success in high school, setting numerous school records. Bill Easton, the track coach at the University of Kansas, was impressed with the gangly youngster and offered him a track scholarship.

Opportunity knocked…and Billy Mills opened the door.

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      After waiting for 45 years after his retirement, the Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month is finally taking his rightful place as a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

      Before injuries cut short his Hall of Fame worthy career, Tony Oliva was one of the best hitters in baseball and combined with Hall of Famers Rod Carew and Harmen Killebrew to make the Minnesota Twins a perennial American League contender during the late 1960s.

      Discovered on the baseball fields of Cuba by a Minnesota Twin scout, Oliva came to the United States in 1961 and within three years the American League Rookie of the Year. There have been many great MLB players from Cuba, including a new generation of stars today, but it is hard to argue that there has been a better player from the island in MLB than Oliva.

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