Igniting the Flame: America's First Olympic Team

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Overview

From critically acclaimed American sports historian Jim Reisler comes the story of the fourteen athleteswhose triumphs at the 1896 Olympics in Athens launched the US Olympic movement. Robert Garrett (Princeton) Champion DiscusChampion Shot PutRunner-up Long JumpThird High JumpThomas Burke(Boston Athletic Assoc.—BAA)Champion 100 MetersChampion 400 MetersEllery Clark (BAA; Harvard)Champion Long JumpChampion High JumpJames Connolly(Suffolk Athletic Club,Harvard)Champion Triple JumpRunner-up High JumpThird Long ...
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Igniting the Flame: America's First Olympic Team

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Overview

From critically acclaimed American sports historian Jim Reisler comes the story of the fourteen athleteswhose triumphs at the 1896 Olympics in Athens launched the US Olympic movement. Robert Garrett (Princeton) Champion DiscusChampion Shot PutRunner-up Long JumpThird High JumpThomas Burke(Boston Athletic Assoc.—BAA)Champion 100 MetersChampion 400 MetersEllery Clark (BAA; Harvard)Champion Long JumpChampion High JumpJames Connolly(Suffolk Athletic Club,Harvard)Champion Triple JumpRunner-up High JumpThird Long JumpSumner Paine (BAA)Champion Free PistolRunner-up 25-Meter Military RevolverWilliam Hoyt (BAA; Harvard)Champion Pole Vault110-Meter High HurdlesThomas Curtis (BAA)Champion 110-Meter High Hurdles 100 MetersJohn Paine (BAA)Champion 25-Meter Military RevolverAlbert Tyler (Princeton)Runner-up Pole VaultArthur Blake (BAA)Runner-up 1,500 MetersMarathonHerbert Jamison (Princeton)Runner-up 400 MetersFrancis Lane (Princeton)100 MetersCharles WaldsteinShootingGardner Williams (BAA) Swimming
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"[T]he little-known story of the 1896 Olympics, the first in 1,500 years…. Reisler weaves a handful of narrative threads…. writes well about the oddities…. [and] skillfully records the cries and struggles attending a nearly miraculous rebirth." –Kirkus Reviews"This fun and accessible read is recommended to all coming Olympics watchers interested in putting today's games in historical perspective. The photographs, appendix of award winners, and notes will add to the reader's experience." —Library Journal
Kirkus Reviews
A writer of numerous baseball books (A Great Day in Cooperstown: The Improbable Birth of Baseball's Hall of Fame, 2006, etc.) shifts to another summer event, telling the little-known story of the 1896 Olympics, the first in 1,500 years. Imagine: An American Olympian shows up for the discus event, having never really tried it before; some accommodating Greek athletes demonstrate, and he wins. Such was the state of turn-of-the-century international athletic competitions. And so it was that a small American team (14 members) traveled to Athens, having no idea what sort of competition they would face. Not much: They came home with 11 firsts to a country now ecstatic about the Games (yawns had accompanied their departure). Reisler weaves a handful of narrative threads: the story of the resurrection of the Olympic Games, and of the men who accomplished it; the primitive means of travel and lodging; the stories of the individual American athletes and accounts of the events; and some whatever-happened-to-those-guys follow-up. An American won the first medal (James Connolly in the triple jump), a couple of wealthy pistoleers, almost on a lark, headed for Greece and took firsts, and another American attempted the marathon, which was won by the Greeks, to tumultuous patriotic thunder. The American pole-vaulters passed on all the lower levels; when they were ready, all the other competitors were eliminated. Reisler writes well about the oddities--the photograph of the sprinters lined up in a potpourri of poses is a howl--but he sets us up for an exciting 100-meter race, cuts away, then disappoints later with his perfunctory account. Though the author sometimes writes like the team's PR agent, he skillfully records the cries and struggles attending a nearly miraculous rebirth.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780762778485
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 6/5/2012
  • Pages: 296
  • Sales rank: 1,382,264
  • Product dimensions: 6.26 (w) x 9.06 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

JIM REISLER is the author of eight baseball books, most notably Babe Ruth: Launching the Legend, praised by The New York Times Sunday Book Review. Reisler has written for Sports Illustrated, The New York Times, New York Daily News, and Newsweek. Jim is a frequent guest on sports radio shows, including Bob Costas's national satellite show and National Public Radio's Morning Edition.
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Table of Contents

Foreword vii

Author's Note viii

Cast of Characters ix

Beginnings: "Nothing More Than a Glorified Pickup Squad" 1

Chapter 1 "Games at Athens? What Games?" 19

Chapter 2 A Rousing Start 36

Chapter 3 The Baron 56

Chapter 4 "All Were Stupefied" 67

Chapter 5 "Lithe Forms and Springy Steps" 90

Chapter 6 "Most Gratifying to Every Princeton Man" 104

Chapter 7 "Man of Many Parts" 132

Chapter 8 Smoking Guns 148

Chapter 9 "A Foreigner Should Not Win This Race!" 156

Chapter 10 "Jesu Christo! I'm Freezing!" 177

Chapter 11 "Rah! Rah! Rah! Ellas, Ellas, Ellas, Zito!" 184

Chapter 12 "A Set of Men That the Nation May Well Feel Proud Of" 195

Endings: "Good Feeling and Fellowship Predominated" 205

Appendix: 1896 Olympic Results 223

Acknowledgments 233

Notes 234

Index 274

About the Author 286

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 2, 2013

    TEAM FLAME

    Hey team flame members! Its mallory your cheer boss. The team flame uniforms for girls are long sleeved the sleeves are red. It is a half shirt on the front it says FLAME sourrounded by white red and black stripes poining toward the belly botton. The bottom is a red short pleaded skirt with a white rim. This will be where every team flame member meets for team meetings.

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