Morrow's resentment would reach a more pronounced level in 1960, the next Olympic year. After he completed his college eligibility, in '58, he remained in Abilene, working in public relations and business development for a bank, and trained independently at the college. "I ran at invitational meets around the country," he says. "I would cash in my plane ticket and drive to wherever the meet or public appearance was, so that I could eat. That was typical of what track and field athletes had to do in those days. According to Brundage, along with the AAU, which sanctioned the meets, we were supposed to sleep on park benches. They let me on this CBS quiz show, To Tell the Truth, and the network had to superimpose this announcement on the screen that said my $25 winnings would be donated to Abilene Christian.
"About a year before the Olympic trials [in July 1960 in Palo Alto], I flew in a private plane from Abilene to the Meet of Champions in Houston, along with my wife and her brodier," says Morrow, who was in the process of getting his pilot's license. "On the way back, the pilot nearly got us killed. I had to wrestle the controls from him and land the thing myself. But what happened at the meet had been worse. I pulled a groin muscle, and it was bad."
The injury haunted him for months, cramping, literally, his running technique. It still bothered Morrow a year later, and he failed to qualify for the U.S. team at the trials. "But the coaches asked me to stay in California and work out with the team, thinking I would get a relay spot as an alternate," says Morrow. "Or at least that was what I was thinking. I took a month off from my job at the bank, and pretty soon my leg was better and I was beating some guys who had made the team. The coach, Larry Snyder, instructed me to show up at the airport in Los Angeles and accompany the team to Rome. But when I got to the airport, he said there was no room for me on the plane."
Morrow was stunned and humiliated. The man who less than four years earlier had been described in SI as "one of the rare ones who achieved—and gave—a little more: a distillation of excellence, in his case as pure and heady an essence as the Olympic Games have ever known" would never lace up a pair of spikes again. "Actually, there weren't that many committee officials on the team plane," he says. "I heard most of them had flown ahead on one of the first intercontinental jets. The athletes went on a standard prop job."
He became more disillusioned by the performance of the team that had shunned him. Snyder's heavily favored men's sprinters hit the track in Rome with a thud. Not only did they fail to win either of the individual dash events, but also Frank Budd and Ray Norton, members of the 4x100 meter relay team, made an illegal pass during the final, and the U.S. was disqualified. Back in Abilene, Morrow seethed. "Bobby and I divorced in the mid-'60s and a lot of people think the fame that had come to Bobby caused the marriage to fail," says Richey. "That's not the case. But the disappointment of what happened at the plane in Los Angeles might have been a factor. That was an awful way to treat Bobby, and it stuck with him."
Ron Morrow, Bobby's 42-year-old son, who was born in Abilene at the pinnacle of those world-record-setting years, says, "Even to this day, if you want to see my dad's entire face go red, just mention Avery Brundage."
Late in 1961, Morrow sought an appointment with U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy to complain of the hardships suffered by track and field athletes who had to live on a $15 per diem while U.S. Olympic and AAU committeemen enjoyed lavish perks. "I got the appointment," says Morrow. "I remember Danny Kaye was waiting outside Bobby's office when I got there. I don't know why he was there. I guess Danny Kaye and Bobby were pals. Anyway, I went into the office. Bobby had his sleeves rolled up and his feet on the desk. Very cordial. He listened to my complaints, and soon I was invited to appear at a U. S. Senate hearing. Senator Warren Magnuson [of Washington] was heading a committee to investigate the problems I had discussed with Bobby. It was like these things you see on TV, with the senators sitting at a long table and I'm in front of them, with a bunch of microphones."
What came of the hearing? "Absolutely nothing," Morrow says. "You have to remember that Brundage and the AAU people had terrific political clout in those days."
Morrow remains convinced that because of his testimony he was essentially excommunicated from the track and field world. His journey from celebrity to obscurity was rapid. In the mid-1960s, Morrow's father, Bob Floyd Morrow, underwent back surgery. Bobby, who was training to be a stockbroker in Houston, dropped out of the program and returned to the farm in San Benito, where he remains today, living alone. In the ensuing years, he made a decent living as a cotton farmer. As a sideline, Morrow sells—on his Web site (www.morrowgold.com)—polished mesquite cutting boards and pens, among other things.
"The world has changed since I first left the farm," says Morrow. "The values that I learned have disappeared. People screw people these days and think nothing of it. They enjoy it. I can't operate that way, which is why"—he laughs—"some people would say that I haven't amounted to a damn thing."