Race By Race With Bobby Morrow

Bobby Morrow’s final race at the ’56 Olympics gave him his third gold and Team USA a World Record 39.5 in the 4×1. (SPORTS ILLUSTRATED)

[GARNER ROBERTS was the Sports Information Director at Abilene Christian for 26 years. He provided us with this remembrance after Morrow’s death on May 30.]

Born 15 Oct 1935 in Harlingen, Texas. 6 feet, 2 inches; 170 pounds. 1954 graduate of San Benito High School in San Benito, Texas. 1959 graduate of Abilene Christian College (now university) with B.S. degree in physical education. Son of Bob Floyd and Lucille Morrow, who owned and operated a 600-acre cotton and carrot farm near San Benito in lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas. Floyd Morrow (b. 03Dec06 / d. 23Dec83) was member of university’s Board of Trustees 1956-66 (Lucille b. 26Jul08 / d. 04Aug96). Bobby played football (running back) and ran track in HS in District 16-3A with three state sprint titles and won-loss record of 37-15 in individual sprints.

Coached in HS by Jake Watson (track & field) and Jim Barnes (football). Set 17 world outdoor records (three unratified) in 100-200-4×100-4×200 (only eight men set more) and won three gold medals in 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne, Australia, as a 21-year-old sophomore at Abilene Christian. Eleven of his 17 WRs (two unratified) were set in 1956 (only U.S. sprinter Charley Paddock with 12 in 1921, including six unratified, set more in one year). Named Sportsman of the Year for 1956 by Sports Illustrated magazine ahead of NY Yankee star Mickey Mantle, World Series hero Don Larsen, Notre Dame all-America RB Paul Hornung, heavyweight champ Floyd Patterson and pro football MVP Frank Gifford of the NY Giants. Also named Athlete of Year by Sport magazine and pictured on covers of Life, Sport, Track & Field News and other magazines. Appeared on popular Ed Sullivan TV show, addressed joint session of Texas Senate and House of Representatives, and won Sullivan Award as top amateur athlete in U.S.

Compiled collegiate outdoor record of 80-8 with 14 national individual championships in 100-200 (4 USA, 4 NCAA, 6 NAIA). First man since legendary Jesse Owens to win three gold medals at Olympic Games. Member of Texas, U.S. Olympic, ACU, National Track & field, NAIA, Rio Grande Valley Sports, and Helms Athletic Foundation Halls of Fame. Named in 1959 by U.S. Chamber of Commerce as one of nine “Great Living Americans.” His three gold medals were donated by Morrow to Smithsonian Institute, Texas Sports Hall of Fame, and ACU. Often called “the greatest sprinter of all time” and “world’s fastest human.” Veteran track & field writer Maxwell Stiles of Los Angeles, in 1958-59 study titled “The Greatest Sprinters,” named Morrow the best.

His collegiate coach, Oliver Jackson, told Sports Illustrated in 1956: “We really have no idea how fast that boy can actually run.” Of his smooth running form, Jackson added, “He could run a 220 with a root beer float on his head and never spill a drop.” Fellow 1956 Olympian Bob Richards, who won the vault in Melbourne, said, “On a modern track surface, there is no doubt in my mind that Bobby would have run an 8-something 100 meters. He was the greatest sprinter I ever saw.” Jackson added, “He had the most phenomenal career I guess that a sprinter has ever had.”

His lifetime record in individual races, thanks to Track & Field News and former ACU sports publicists Charles H. Marler and Walter E. Burch. Corrections welcome.

High School Sophomore in 1951-52 (won 2-lost 11) age 16
Time Event Place Meet Date
22.7 220y (1) dual meet vs. Pharr-San Juan-Alamo, San Benito 22Feb52
(nt) 100y (np) All-Valley meet, Pharr 01Mar52
10.2 100y (1) Tri-City meet, San Benito 22Mar52
(nt) 220y (2) Tri-City meet, San Benito 22Mar52
(nt) 100y (3) Donna Relays, Donna 01Apr52
(nt) 100y (3) Quarterback Relays, McAllen 04Apr52
(nt) 220y (2) Quarterback Relays, McAllen 04Apr52
(nt) 100y (3) District meet, San Benito 09Apr52
(nt) 220y (2) District meet, San Benito 09Apr52
(nt) 100y (np) Regional meet, Kingsville 28Apr52
(nt) 220y (2) Regional meet, Kingsville 28Apr52
(nt) 100y (np) State meet, Austin 03May52
(nt) 220y (np) State meet, Austin 03May52
High School Junior in 1952-53 (18-4) age 17
10.5 100y (1) dual meet vs. Pharr-San Juan-Alamo, San Benito 27Feb53
22.2 220y (1) dual meet vs. Pharr-San Juan-Alamo, San Benito 27Feb53
10.3 100y (1) triangular meet, San Benito 03Mar53
(nt) 220y (2) triangular meet, San Benito 03Mar53
10.1 100y (1) All-Valley meet, Pharr 06Mar53
22.5 220y (1) All-Valley meet, Pharr 06Mar53
10.5 100y (1) Border Olympics, Laredo (9.9 in prelims) 14Mar53
23.1 220y (1) Border Olympics, Laredo 14Mar53
10.1 100y (1) Donna Relays, Donna 28Mar53
22.7 220y (1) Donna Relays, Donna 28Mar53
9.9 100y (1) Quarterback Relays, McAllen 04Apr53
22.8 220y (1) Quarterback Relays, McAllen 04Apr53
9.9 100y (1) District meet, San Benito 11Apr53
21.4 220y (1) District meet, San Benito 11Apr53
10.2 100y (1) Meet of Champions, San Benito 17Apr53
23.2 220y (1) Meet of Champions, San Benito 17Apr53
9.8 100y (1) Regional meet, Kingsville 25Apr53
21.8 220y (1) Regional meet, Kingsville 25Apr53
(nt) 100y (2) State qualifiers meet, San Antonio 02May53
(nt) 220y (2) State qualifiers meet, San Antonio 02May53
9.8 100y (1) State meet, Austin 09May53
(nt) 220y (3) State meet, Austin 09May53
High School Senior in 1953-54 (undefeated: 17-0) (HS record 37-15) age 18
9.6 100y (1) Border Olympics, Laredo 12Mar54
21.2 220y (1) Border Olympics, Laredo 12Mar54
9.8 100y (1) Hub City Relays, Alice 19Mar54
22.0 220y (1) Hub City Relays, Alice 19Mar54
10.0 100y (1) Donna Relays, Donna 27Mar54
22.7 220y (1) Donna Relays, Donna 27Mar54
9.6 100y (1) Texas Relays, Austin 03Apr54
9.8 100y (1) District meet, Kingsville 17Apr54
22.1 220y (1) District meet, Kingsville 17Apr54
9.9 100y (1) Meet of Champions, San Benito 20Apr54
21.8 220y (1) Meet of Champions, San Benito 20Apr54
9.6 100y (1) Regional meet, Kingsville 24Apr54
21.5 220y (1) Regional meet, Kingsville 24Apr54
10.0 100y (1) State qualifiers meet, San Antonio 01May54
22.1 220Y (1) State qualifiers meet, San Antonio 01May54
9.7 100y (1) State meet, Austin 08May54
21.1 200y (1) State meet, Austin 08May54
College Freshman in 1954-55 (17-1) age 19
9.5w 100y (1) Border Olympics, Laredo 12Mar55
20.5w 220y (1) Border Olympics, Laredo 12Mar55
9.7 100y (1) quadrangular meet, Austin 19Mar55
21.6 220y (1) quadrangular meet, Austin 19Mar55
9.8 100y (1) Texas Relays, Austin 02Apr55
9.5w 100y (1) North Texas Relays, Denton 06Apr55
9.3w 100y (1) quadrangular meet, Commerce 16Apr55
20.7w 220y (1) quadrangular meet, Commerce 16Apr55
9.5 100y (1) triangular meet, Denton 05May55
21.6 220y (1) triangular meet, Denton 05May55
9.5 100y (1) dual meet vs. North Texas, Abilene 13May55
20.7 220y (1) dual meet vs. North Texas, Abilene 13May55
9.1w 100y (1) NAIA national meet, Abilene (9.4 in prelims) 04Jun55
[from 1995 edition of “Progression of World Best Performances and Official IAAF World Records” (p. 15): The wind gauge operator reported that the wind touched 7.32 mph (3.3 m/s) at the 25-yard mark, was back to 3.5 (1.6 m/s) or less at the end, and was virtually zero at the start. The average wind rule, if applied, would have yielded a reading of 1.7 or 1.8, and so this might have been the first official 9.1.]
20.9w 220y (1) NAIA national meet, Abilene 04Jun55
9.7 100y (1) AAU South Texas meet, Houston 11Jun55
21.3 220y (1) AAU South Texas meet, Houston 11Jun55
9.5 100y (1) AAU national meet, Boulder, Colo. 24Jun55
(nt) 220y (4) AAU national meet, Boulder, Colo. 25Jun55
[1. Rod Richards 21.0, 2. Dick Blair, 3. Andy Stanfield]
College Sophomore in 1955-56 (33-1) age 20
9.8 100y (1) AAU tour, Dunedin, New Zealand 17Dec55
21.4 220y (1) AAU tour, Dunedin, New Zealand 17Dec55
9.8 100y (1) AAU tour, Christchurch, New Zealand 21Dec55
22.3 220y (1) AAU tour, Christchurch, New Zealand 21Dec55
9.6 100y (1) AAU tour, Napier, New Zealand 26Dec55
21.0 220y (1) AAU tour, Napier, New Zealand 26Dec55
9.3w 100y (1) AAU tour, Auckland, New Zealand 28Dec55
21.0w 220y (1) AAU tour, Auckland, New Zealand 28Dec55
9.4 100y (1) AAU tour, Melbourne, Australia 04Jan56
21.9 220y (1) AAU tour, Melbourne, Australia 04Jan56
10.5 100m (1) AAU tour, Melbourne, Australia 07Jan56
21.6 200m (1) AAU tour, Melbourne, Australia 07Jan56
9.6 100y (1) Border Olympics, Laredo 10Mar56
21.0 220y (1) Border Olympics, Laredo 10Mar56
9.6 100y (1) Southwest Recreation meet, Fort Worth 17Mar56
20.7 220y (1) Southwest Recreation meet, Fort Worth 17Mar56
9.5 100y (1) West Texas Relays, Odessa 24Mar56
9.6 100y (1) quadrangular meet, Abilene 28Mar56
9.5 100y (1) Texas Relays, Austin 07Apr56
9.4 100y (2) Drake Relays, Des Moines, Iowa 28Apr56
[1. Dave Sime 9.4]
9.5 100y (1) Gulf Coast Conference, Denton 11May56
22.2 220y (1) Gulf Coast Conference, Denton 11May56
10.2 100m (1) U.S. Southern championships, Houston =WR 19May56
21.4 200m (1) U.S. Southern championships, Houston 19May56
9.4 100y (1) California Relays, Modesto 28May56
10.4 100m (1) AAU South Texas meet, Corpus Christi 02Jun56
21.0 200m (1) AAU South Texas meet, Corpus Christi 02Jun56
10.3 100m (1) NAIA national meet, San Diego, Calif. 09Jun56
20.8 200m (1) NAIA national meet, San Diego, Calif. 09Jun56
10.4 100m (1) NCAA national meet, Berkeley, Calif. 16Jun56
20.6 200m (1) NCAA national meet, Berkeley, Calif. =WR 16Jun56
10.3 100m (1) AAU national meet, Bakersfield (10.2p=WR) 22Jun56
10.3 100m (1) U.S. Olympic Trials, Los Angeles (10.2p=WR) 29Jun56
20.6 200m (1) U.S. Olympic Trials, Los Angeles, Calif. =WR 30Jun56
College Junior in 1956-57 (20-1) age 21
10.5 100m (1) Olympic Games, Melbourne, Australia 24Nov56
[10.3 in QF and SF]
20.6 200m (1) Olympic Games, Melbourne, Australia =WR 27Nov56
9.5 100y (1) Border Olympics, Laredo 09Mar57
20.2 220y (1) Border Olympics, Laredo 09Mar57
9.5 100y (1) Southwest Recreation, Fort Worth 16Mar57
9.4w 100y (1) West Texas Relays, Odessa 23Mar57
9.3w 100y (1) dual meet vs. North Texas, Abilene 26Mar57
20.0w 220y (1) dual meet vs. North Texas, Abilene 26Mar57
10.4 100m (1) North Texas Relays, Denton 30Mar57
9.3w 100y (1) Texas Relays, Austin 06Apr57
9.3w 100y (1) Dallas Invitational, Dallas 18Apr57
9.4 100y (1) Drake Relays, Des Moines, Iowa 27Apr57
9.5 100y (1) College Championships, San Marcos 02May57
9.4 100y (1) West Coast Relays, Fresno, Calif. 11May57
9.5 100y (1) U.S. Southern Championship, Houston 18May57
9.4 100y (1) Coliseum Relays, Los Angeles, Calif. 24May57
9.4 100y (2) Compton Invitational, Compton, Calif. 31May57
[1. Willie White 9.4]
9.5 100y (1) NAIA national meet, San Diego, Calif. 08Jun57
21.1 220y (1) NAIA national meet, San Diego, Calif. 08Jun57
9.4 100y (1) NCAA national meet, Austin 15Jun57
[9.3 in prelims =WR 14Jun57]
21.0 220y (1) NCAA national meet, Austin 15Jun57
[Race-by-race for Morrow’s junior year does not include pre-Olympic time trials:
13Oct56 Berkeley King 10.3m, Murchison 10.4, Morrow 10.5
13Oct56 Berkeley Morrow 21.4m
20Oct56 Ontario King 10.1m, Morrow 10.2
20Oct56 Ontario Morrow and King =21.3m
27Oct56 Santa Ana King 10.1m, Baker 10.2, Murchison 10.4, Morrow 10.4
01Nov56 Los Angeles King 10.4m, Murchison 10.5, Morrow 10.6
01Nov56 Los Angeles Morrow 20.8m
17Nov56 Bendigo Morrow 20.9y]
College Senior in 1957-58 (10-5) age 22 (collegiate record 80-8)
9.7w 100y (1) Southwest Recreation, Fort Worth 15Mar58
9.6 100y (1) West Texas Relays, Odessa 22Mar58
9.7 100y (3) ABC Relays, Big Spring 05Apr58
[1. Dave Sime 9.6, 2. Bill Woodhouse]
9.6 100y (2) triangular vs. North Texas, Baylor, Abilene 12Apr58
[1. Bill Woodhouse 9.5]
9.5 100y (1) Dallas Invitational, Dallas 17Apr58
20.6 220y (2) Dallas Invitational, Dallas 17Apr58
[1. Eddie Southern 20.6]
9.3w 100y (2) triangular vs. North Texas, Texas Tech, Ab 19Apr58
[1. Bill Woodhouse 9.3w]
9.7 100y (2) Coliseum Relays, Los Angeles (grass) 17May58
[1. Ray Norton 9.7]
9.4 100y (1) California Relays, Modesto 31May58
9.4 100y (1) Meet of Champions, Houston 07Jun58
20.4 220y (1) Meet of Champions, Houston 07Jun58
[ineligible for NCAA meet because he ran with varsity as freshman in 1955]
9.4 100y (1) AAU South Pacific Coast, Los Angeles 13Jun58
20.9y 220y (1) AAU South Pacific Coast, Los Angeles 13Jun58
9.4 100y (1) AAU national championships, Bakersfield 21Jun58
20.9 220y (1) AAU national championships, Bakersfield 22Jun58
unattached in 1958-59 (9-6) age 23
9.4 100y (1) West Texas Relays, Odessa 21Mar59
21.0 220y (1) West Texas Relays, Odessa 21Mar59
10.2 100m (1) Texas Relays, Austin 03Apr59
9.5w 100y (1) Southwestern Relays, Lafayette, La. 11Apr59
21.7 220y (1) Southwestern Relays, Lafayette, La. 11Apr59
9.6w 100y (2) Drake Relays, Des Moines, Iowa 25Apr59
[1. Ira Murchison 9.4w]
9.6 100y (1) AAU Inter-Mountain, Salt Lake City 02May59
21.2 220y (1) AAU Inter-Mountain, Salt Lake City 02May59
9.4 100y (2) West Coast Relays, Fresno, Calif. 09May59
[1. Ray Norton 9.4]
9.6 100y (1) Coliseum Relays, Los Angeles, Calif. (grass) )15May59
9.5 100y (5) California Relays, Modesto 30May59 (inj)
[1. Roscoe Cook 9.3, 2. Norton 9.4, 3. Garton 9.4, 4. Poynter 9.4]
20.5 220y (1) California Relays, Modesto 30May59
(nt) 100y (dnf) Meet of Champions, Houston 06Jun59 (inj)
[1. Bill Woodhouse 9.6]
(nt) 100m (9h) AAU national championships, Boulder, Co. 19Jun59 (inj)
22.0 200m (7h) AAU national championships, Boulder, Co. 20Jun59 (inj)
unattached in 1959-60 (5-18) age 24
9.5 100y (1) Southwest Recreation, Fort Worth 12Mar60
21.3 220y (1) Southwest Recreation, Fort Worth 12Mar60
10.5 100m (2) San Angelo Relays, San Angelo 19Mar60
[1. Jimmy Weaver 10.5]
21.0 200m (2) San Angelo Relays, San Angelo 19Mar60
[1. Jimmy Weaver 21.0]
10.6 100m (1) Texas Relays, Austin 01Apr60
21.5w 200m (3) Texas Relays, Austin 02Apr60
[1. Ted Woods 21.0, 2. Jimmy Weaver 21.4]
10.2 100m (1) Southwestern Relays, Lafayette, La. 09Apr60
(nt) 100m (3) Penn Relays, Philadelphia, Pa. 30Apr60
[1. Ray Norton 10.5, 2. Dave Sime]
21.4 200m (4) Penn Relays, Philadelphia, Pa. 30Apr60
[1. Ray Norton 20.6, 2. Dave Sime 20.8, 3. Ed Collymore 21.1]
9.6 100y (2) AAU Hawai‘i, Honolulu 28May60
[1. Tom Fuller 9.6]
22.0 220y (1) AAU Hawai‘i, Honolulu 28May60
(nt) 100y (6h) Compton Invitational, Compton, Calif. 03Jun60
21.3 200m (6) Compton Invitational, Compton, Calif. 03Jun60
[1. Adolph Plummer 20.9, 2. Dave Styron 21.0, 3. Willie Williams 21.0, 4. Doug Smith 21.1, 5. ???]
10.8 100m (p) Meet of Champions, Houston 10Jun60
21.8 200m (p) Meet of Champions, Houston 10Jun60
(nt) 100y (np) Albuquerque Invitational, Albuquerque, N.M. 18Jun60
[1. Ray Norton 9.5]
21.5 220y (3) Albuquerque Invitational, Albuquerque, N.M. 18Jun60
[1. Bill Woodhouse 21.3, 2. Jim Omagbemi 21.4]
(nt) 100m (8h) AAU national championships, Bakersfield 24Jun60
21.1 200m (4) AAU national championships, Bakersfield 25Jun60
[1. Ray Norton 20.8, Les Carney 21.0, 3. Ed Collymore 21.1]
21.1 200m (4) U.S. Olympic Trials, Palo Alto, Calif. 02Jul60
[1. Ray Norton 20.5, 2. Stone Johnson 20.8, 3. Les Carney 20.9]
(20.8 in prelims)
21.4 200m (5) pre-Olympic Games meet, Eugene, Ore. 30Jul60
[1. Stone Johnson 20.9, 2. Ray Norton 21.0, 3. Harry Jerome 21.1, 4. Les Carney 21.4]
10.2 100m (3) pre-Olympic Games meet, Walnut, Calif. 12Aug60
[1. Dave Sime 10.1, 2. Stone Johnson 10.2]
21.0 200m (5) pre-Olympic Games meet, Walnut, Calilf. 12Aug60
[1. Ted Woods 20.7, 2. Stone Johnson 20.8, 3. Les Carney 20.8, 4. Paul Winder 21.0]