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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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  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Rusty Staub: A Man For All Ages
      April 8, 2024 | 1:26 pm
      Rusty Staub

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month is a former major league baseball player who came into the game as a teenager and stayed until he was in his 40s. In between, Rusty Staub put up a solid career that was primarily spent on expansion or rebuilding teams.

      Originally signed by the Colt .45s at age 17, he made his major league debut as a 19-year old rookie and became only the second player in the modern era to play in more than 150 games as a teenager.

      Though he hit only .224 splitting time between first base and rightfield, Staub did start building a foundation that would turn him into an All-Star by 1967 when he finished fifth in the league with a .333 batting average.

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