As I was going through today's sports stories to share with you, I was saddened by the news of the passing of an original free thinker of an Olympic athlete. Dick Fosbury, the inventor of the famous "Fosbury Flop" was my hero when it came to track and field. This story took me back in time twice on a summer afternoon in 2009.

65 Dick Fosbury USA high jump
Getty Images


I happened to get a call to be the fill-in fourth on the Parker Youth and Sports Foundation golf tournament at Apple Tree Golf Course in Yakima.  The planets had to be in line for the day to happen.  It started with the phone call to fill in playing golf and then finding out that I was in the group with Seattle Mariners' Pitching Coach Mel Stottlmyre Sr. (Yes, my mouth dropped). My game was on fire (compared to it normally), had a nice conversation with Mel. We ended up where lunch was being served.

Mel was catching up with some old friends and I sat down at an empty table to eat. I was joined by a tall gentleman, who was waiting for his golf friends to join him. I looked at the program flyer and notice the name of Yakima's Willie Turner, who starred in track and field at Davis High School, and Oregon State University.  "That's pretty cool,"  I said aloud.


Then I saw the name of Dick Fosbury. I just said "WOW" Dick Fosbury! I hope he is here, I've got to meet him. (Wait for it, you know it's coming) The gentleman asks why. I told him about how I couldn't clear the bar in the high jump during P.E. when I was at Wapato Junior High. I tried to do the "Flop" which the teacher didn't want us to do. But I did and cleared the bar at 5 feet. So I owe him at least a thank you. He said, "Oh, I am sorry. I forget to ask you your name. I said it is Jack Balzer. He said it is very nice to meet you, Jack. and a big smile. My name is Dick Fosbury.

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That was a golden afternoon spending time with an Olympian Gold Medalist that influenced thousands. Somewhere in my collection of memorabilia is a program with an autograph of Dick Fosbury.

Read the tribute from Oregon State University here.

Read the Full Associated Press Article here.


The Fosbury Flop
Getty Images
1968 Olympics/Fosbur
Getty Images


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