SI Vault
Edited by Martin Kane
March 15, 1971
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March 15, 1971


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The brilliant star of the 1936 Olympic Games (he took gold medals in the 100 meters, 200 meters, long jump and 400-meter relay), Jesse Owens, now 57, works for the American League's public-relations department. He has taken a creative view of his job. He wants baseball to introduce a footrace into the annual All-Star Game, just to find out who is the fastest baseball player.

"For years," he explained during a tour of the Florida spring-training camps, "people have been trying to figure out who's the fastest in the game. Let's have 'em race and find out. Put up $5,000 and the entire purse goes to the winner. What's $5,000 to the All-Star Game?"

There was some suggestion that pulled muscles might be a discouraging prospect in such a race.

"Let's face it," Jesse said. "These athletes shouldn't be getting pulled muscles in midseason. They wouldn't, if conditioned properly."

The American League may be a shoo-in if Jesse is the track coach.


Athletes of average height or less who have been discouraged from playing basketball by the game's basic insistence on stature as a measure of competence may now take a look at something fairly new called Balanced Basketball. The idea is to give the little fellow a shot at the game.

In Balanced Basketball, players are assigned height grades of 1 to 9, like so: 1) under 5'2"; 2) 5'2" to 5'5"; 3) 5'5" to 5'8"; 4) 5'8" to 5'10�"; 5) 5'10�" to 6'1"; 6) 6'1" to 6'3�"; 7) 6'3�" to 6'6"; 8) 6'6" to 6'8"; 9) over 6'8". No team is permitted to play five men at a time whose combined height grades exceed 25.

These height scales are based on figures that show the median height of adult American males to be 5'10". Fewer than 10% of grown-up American males are taller than 6'6"—the average height of those who make a living playing basketball.

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