Jim Thorpe - New York Giants 1913 - 14466
Jim Thorpe is “the greatest athlete of all time. Still. To me, it’s not even a question.” Olympic historian Bill Mallon
Over 100 years ago, Jim Thorpe competed in the 1912 Summer Olympics in Stockholm, Sweden. His crushed the competition. In his first event, the pentathlon, consisted of five events in one day. Thorpe won four out of the five events. The 1,500 meter race he ran almost 5 seconds faster than the competition.
Thorpe's second event, the three day decathlon, was held in a pouring rain. He began by running the 100-meter dash in 11.2 seconds. It was another 36 years before another Olympian would equal his time.
The next day Thorpe's shoes went missing. His coach scrounged the trash for a pair of mismatched shoes. The shoes may have slowed him down but did not impact his performance. Thrope ran his favorite event, the 110-meter hurdles in 15.6 seconds. Bob Mathias in the 1948 Olympics was unable to match it.
On the third day, still wearing mismatched shoes, Thorpe ended the event by running the 1,500 meter run in 4 minutes 40.1 seconds. It wasn't until 1972 that an Olympian beat his record. As Neely Tucker of the "Washington Post" pointed out, the 2008 Olympic Decathlon Champion, Bryan Clay, would beat Thorpe's 1,500 by only one second.
His fantastic performance can be attributed to natural ability and unlike most athletes of his generation, Thorpe trained hard, year around. “I may have had an aversion for work,” Thorpe said, “but I also had an aversion for getting beat.”
Thorpe became a professional athlete after the Olympics. He would play professionally baseball and football until he was 41 years old.