He received 22 scholarship offers in football (most tempting offer: one from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point) and had bonus contracts dangled before his eyes by a horde of major league baseball scouts. But there was a growing desire in Dave to become a doctor and a blossoming plan that the only way he could make it was to go to college, play baseball and upon graduation sign a big league contract. Then, as Sime remembered the story of Bobby Brown of the New York Yankees, he could finance his own medical school education. So Dave turned to the college baseball scholarship offered by Duke.
In all this time, Dave Sime, record-wrecker to be, had run only once in a high school track meet. Near the end of his senior year Dave slipped off from baseball and, competing unattached, ran in a 100-yard dash. Without knowing anything about a proper start, Sime ran a 9.6 in his qualifying heat—only the timers didn't believe their watches and decided it must have been about 9.8. In the finals he lost by inches.
Twice that summer in New Jersey AAU meets, Sime ran again. Once he won and once he lost and Dave Sime took two more lessons to heart: sprinting was fun but not quite so much fun when you finished second.
Bob Chambers, the leathery-brown Duke track coach, will never forget the day he first saw Dave Sime. He laughingly tells how on the very first day on the campus for the Class of '58 this tall redhead with the long legs and shy grin walked up, introduced himself and asked if he might take part in the fall track program.
"He said, 'I'm here on a baseball scholarship and I've never played track before, but I can run the 100 in 9.8.' "
"I guess," says Sime, "that he thought I was crazy."
"We worked him on starts," says Red Lewis, Chambers' tall, courtly assistant track coach, "because it was apparent he didn't know the first principles of getting under way. But by the time he was out 20 yards or so he was really beginning to move, and it would take a blind man not to see it. And work? He thrived on it. So after a few weeks we put the clock on him."
In sweat clothes, Dave Sime ran the 100 in 9.7.
"By that time," Lewis adds, "we knew we had something, a boy with tremendous physical abilities. We didn't know how good he was, but we knew he was good."
It didn't take them long to find out. They wangled an invitation for Sime to run in the Washington Evening Star Games, and sent their nervous freshman out to match strides with Rod Richard, who two months later was to win the Pan-American Games 100 and 200 meters, and Art Bragg, a former NCAA and AAU champion from Morgan State. Sime got off to a late start but closed fast to finish third.