Flop and Slop - Fosbury and Jacobs were high-jumping innovators

March 21, 2023

Flop and Slop - Dick Fosbury, originator of the back-first high jump known as the Fosbury Flop and winner of a gold medal at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City with a 7-foot-4-inch jump, passed away March 12 at the age of 76. Fosbury, an Oregon State graduate, was built like a high jumper, standing 6-feet-4-inches tall and weighing 185  pounds. In 1968, Fosbury raised his fist during the national anthem after his gold medal in solidarity with John Carlos and Tommy Smith, but no one paid any attention to him. Franklin Jacobs, standing 5-feet-8-inches tall, amended the Fosbury Flop and called his technique the Jacobs Slop, later known simply as the Slop. Jacobs jumped for Fairleigh Dickinson University  and jumped 7-feet-8-inches at the 1978 Millrose games. Jacobs missed out on the 1980 Olympics because of the United States boycott of the games. He still owns the record for the greatest differential between his own height and the height cleared in the high jump. Jacobs is 65 years old and living in Arizona. I’m sure when FD beat Purdue Saturday night, Franklin was talking serious slop in a subway shop in the Arizona food desert. 

Faster Pastor - Bob Paulen, the Dewey Doctor of Divinity, returned from the National Masters Indoor Championships in Louisville, Ky., where he participated  in the 4-by-200 relay that set a new American record for the 85-89 age group in 3:12.5.   Individually, Bob won the high jump and finished second in the hurdles, triple jump  and shot put; he also took third in the long jump. Bob will compete at the World Indoor Championships later this month in Poland. Bob said, “The USATF provides uniforms for international meets; the travel and expenses are my responsibility.” By the way, Bob is a recent cancer survivor.

Inner Cecil - Back when Sonja Friend-Uhl was at Cape, class of 1989, I called her Cecil after her dad, a leather-necked Marine  you didn’t want to mess with. Last week, competing in the same National Masters meet in Louisville as Pastor Bob from Dewey, Sonja, a  52-year old competing in the 50-54 age group, won gold in the 1,500 meters in 5:05.96 and the 800 meters in 2:30.56. She currently holds additional American records in the Women’s Masters (age 40 and above) Indoor Mile with a time of 4:44.84, the Women’s Masters Outdoor Mile (4:45.68) and the Women’s Masters Indoor 3,000m (9:48.23).

Birdman - Vincent Glover became a state champion and state record holder in the triple jump in 1982 because he couldn't hit the curveball. Vincent left baseball and  showed up at a track practice as I was conducting an open audition in the triple. The pit was open, and  most of  the guys couldn’t make the sand on four jumps. Glover went bong-bong-bong then pogoed, but not in a straight line, and jumped 44 feet his first time down the runway. And the last weekend in April at the Penn Relays in 1982,  I watched him take off a foot-and-a-half behind the board and jump 48-6 while wearing three pairs of socks. The Jamaican competitors were like, “What the heck was that?” Vincent  just celebrated his 60th birthday and still looks springy like Pogo Pop Pop.

Billy the Kid - I’ve been hunkered down on the thrift shop sofa for four days, a left-handed gun slinger with my Comcast remote (the Quick and the Fred) because my right wrist was on ice after carpal tunnel endoscopic surgery last Wednesday. My go-to button is the mute. I just can’t handle watching the same lame commercial 30 times, and how come Spike Lee looks like a hobbit? Saturday night there were four basketball games to choose from, the NCAA wrestling championships and the World Baseball Classic featuring the United States versus Venezuela. And mix in third-party apps like ESPN+ for tracking relatives playing in college games. The good news is, there’s no time left for watching any political shows.    

Snippets - The NCAA transfer portal is neither a good thing nor a bad thing, but it is most emphatically a thing. Google and read all about it if you wish. I think a downside is that it shows a lack of commitment to the team you’re playing for, plus the athlete may get back-slapped when it's determined that no college coach scanning the online database is interested in giving up scholarship monies to acquire their talents. Anytime both sides of a larger argument make sense, only one side makes sense for the individual. Spring sports start for real this week. I use the websites4sports calendar feature, saving my AT-A-GLANCE Staples planner book  for non-sports-related appointments.  The book is mostly empty. Go on now, git!


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