Even Jesse Owens had a nemesis. His, though, came up with a pulled hamstring before the '36 Olympics.
WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN
Owens was expected to win the 100 meters and the long jump at the 1935 AAU championships in Lincoln, Neb. A few weeks earlier he had electrified the sports world by breaking or equaling four world records at the Big Ten Championships. But Eulace Peacock, a tall, muscular runner from Temple whose specialty was the pentathlon (then the 100-meter dash, discus, javelin, long jump and 1,500-meter run), was entered in the same events as Owens. In the 100 meters Peacock ran down both Owens and '32 Olympic silver medalist Ralph Metcalfe to win in a wind-aided world-record time of 10.2 seconds. A few hours later, during the long jump competition, Owens retired to the locker room with a jump he was certain would be good enough to win, but Peacock uncorked a personal best of 26'3". Owens tried again but couldn't top it.
"I didn't think I could put both victories together," says Peacock, 73, now living in Yonkers, N.Y. "But that was it." Peacock and Owens had five head-to-head sprint competitions that season, and Peacock won three of them. In one other race, the two finished in a virtual tie. "We were so close, the track officials were in a quandary trying to decide what to do," says Peacock. "A friend of mine was in the huddle of officials, and they said, 'We have a problem.' The problem was that they had already put Jesse's name on the trophy. So he won."
Late that summer Peacock pulled his right hamstring running in Milan. He never gave it a chance to heal properly and popped it at the '36 Penn Relays and again at the Olympic trials. Owens, of course, went on to win four gold medals in Berlin.
When Peacock came back in 1937, he again dominated the 100 meters, long jump and pentathlon. But Owens had retired in 1936, and the two never met on the track again. They remained close friends, though, so close that they went into business together as partners in the Owens-Peacock Products Corp., a meat supply company in Great Neck, N.Y.
STILL MORE FACTS
1. While pitching for the Providence Grays, Old Hoss Radbourn beat the Cleveland Spiders 16 times in 1884. He pitched 678.2 innings that year, winning 60 games.
2. Calvin Coolidge Julius Caesar Tuskahoma (Buster) McLish of the Reds was 0-7 against the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1960. That's one loss for each of his names.
3. From 1960 to '74 Arthur Ashe lost 18 straight matches to Rod Laver.