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Flanagan, John J. (09 January 1873–04 June 1938), track and field athlete and coach, was born of poor farming parents in Kilmallack, Limerick County, Ireland (his parents’ names are unknown). As a boy, Flanagan could run, jump, and throw heavy weights with success against anyone in the county, and this in a nation that had been a world leader for a century in such sporting activities....

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Hayward, William Louis (02 July 1868–14 December 1947), track and field athlete and coach, was born William Louis Heyward in Detroit, Michigan, the son of Thomas Heyward. His mother’s name is unknown. In 1878 William, his brother, and three sisters went to live with their grandparents in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, when their parents left North America to manage a Peruvian rubber plantation. Hayward lived in Toronto until 1888, when he left to earn a living as a professional athlete and a vaudeville performer....

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Oosterbaan, Bennie (24 February 1906–25 October 1990), college athlete and coach, was born Benjamin Gaylord Oosterbaan, the son of Benjamin Oosterbaan, a Muskegon, Michigan, postmaster, and Harriet Dick. Oosterbaan starred in four sports at Muskegon High School. He was selected as a forward on the 1922–1923 Interscholastic All-America basketball team, all-state in basketball in his senior year, and all-state as a football end in his junior and senior years. He also played baseball and won a state track and field championship in the discus. During the time he played at Muskegon High, the team won four football and three basketball state championships....

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Orton, George Washington (10 January 1873–26 June 1958), athlete, coach, and educator, was born in Stratbury, Ontario, Canada, the son of Oliver Henry Orton and Mary Ann Irvine. Although crippled by a childhood accident, he restored his ambulatory ability through exercise, especially running. Reminiscing about his origins as a runner, Orton said that many boys “beat me in the dashes, but as the route became long, I killed off my adherents.” Recognizing that distance running was his “forte,” he practiced regularly and developed into one of the premier athletes of the late nineteenth century....

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Sheppard, Melvin Winfield (05 September 1883–04 January 1942), Olympic gold medalist and track coach, was born in Almonesson, New Jersey, the son of Harry Sheppard and Alice (maiden name unknown), farmers. He attended the Brown Preparatory School in Philadelphia, where the sturdily built 5′ 8″, 165-pound young man played football, won cross-country races, and set an interscholastic two-mile record of 9:57.4. After graduating in 1902, Sheppard moved to New York City and went to work at the ...

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Wefers, Bernard J. (19 February 1873–18 April 1957), athlete and coach, was born in Lawrence, Massachusetts, the son of working-class parents, whose names are unknown. He attended Boston College in 1893 and 1894, where he was a star sprinter and captain of the football team. He then transferred to Georgetown University and enrolled in its medical program but was unable “to pursue it to the end.” Running for the prestigious New York Athletic Club (NYAC) in 1895, he won the 100- and 220-yard dashes at the National Amateur Championships. He repeated these double victories in 1896 and 1897. In the first-of-its-kind dual meet competitions between the best of Great Britain and the United States in September of 1895, Wefers won in 9.8 seconds and 21.6 seconds, establishing himself as a world-class sprinter. Ten thousand New Yorkers watched the event at Manhattan Athletic Field....