The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Sports

May 25, 2013

A Don McCormack column: A leap of faith

Seventy-four years ago tomorrow, Bob Garvey won a state championship. But that didn't define his life

It has stood the test of time, not barely, mind you, but head and shoulders above the nearest challenger. How long has it stood, you ask?

Try a year shy of three quarters of a century tomorrow.

That’s how long.

And with each passing year, The Legend of Bob Garvey grows... by leaps and bounds.

A leap of a lifetime

On Saturday, May 27, 1939, Garvey, an 18-year-old senior at Harbor High School, turned in a remarkable effort in the long jump on the biggest stage possible — Ohio Stadium — leaping 23-25⁄8 to win the Class A (big-school) state championship.

And while several Ashtabula County records have been surpassed through the decades, Garvey’s amazing leap in an event, then called the “broad jump,” almost 75 years  ago — still stands.

“That... wow, that is incredible!” Jim Sanchez, the acclaimed coach of the Edgewood boys and the active dean of Ashtabula County boys coaches said when I asked him about Garvey’s record-setting effort.

“What a special, special record,” he said. “To think it was set back then... and no one I know of has come even close to touching that jump.

“It really is incredible.”

Sanchez can appreciate Garvey’s leap perhaps more than most. A 1987 Geneva graduate, he was a standout track-and-field athlete himself.

An excellent long jumper, or broad jumper, as it was known back in Garvey’s day, Sanchez, whose Warriors recently presented him with the 100th dual-meet victory in his decade and a half at the helm as coach at Edgewood, an impressive achievement itself, marvels at not just what Garvey did, but when he did it.

“My best in the long jump was 21-51⁄2,” the Ohio State University graduate and social-studies teacher said. “That was at the Mentor Relays my senior year.

“I hit that jump perfectly. I mean perfectly! I was so high, in fact, I admit it scared me. I almost tried to get myself to ground because I was so high... I felt like I was floating, almost out of control. That’s why it scared me.

“To think Mr. Garvey went almost two feet farther than I did... and did it three quarters of a century ago, wow... it’s staggering to think about.”

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