The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio


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



Quintin Ratliff is one of the most versatile, talented athletes of this day and age.

The Pymatuning Valley junior, a 6-foot-2, 170-pound bolt of lightning is a standout in three sports — football, basketball and track — for the Lakers.

If there is a track-and-field athlete in Ashtabula County to ask about Bob Garvey’s record-setting leap, it’s the son of Mandy Ratliff and Todd Terino.

“Twenty-three, two and five-eighths? Are you kidding me?” he said. “That’s just crazy... amazing, you name it.

“And he did it in 1939? That’s unbelievable!”

Mind you, Ratliff is a spectacular athlete himself. He placed seventh in the long jump at the Division III state meet last year.

Still, the length of Garvey’s leap almost 75 years ago is difficult for even him to fathom.

“My best in the long jump is 21-111⁄2,” Ratliff said. “That was my sophomore year at the district meet at Lakeview.”

As Ratliff pointed out, that was also done with an all-weather running lane into a sandpit.

When told Garvey’s running lane was cinders and the landing pit was filled with sawdust, the Laker actually laughed, though in admiration.

“That’s just incredible... crazy!” Ratliff, whose best effort in the long jump this year as a junior is 21-3, though he has jumped only a handful of times because of a pulled left quad, said. “He did that back in 1939, right? Wow...”

His voice trailed off, at that point.

Ratliff, who has blazing speed on the field — he runs a 4.4 40-yard dash — and is excellent in the classroom — he carries a 3.20 grade-point average at PV — paused for a moment.

“Bob Garvey sounds like someone we’d both love to have a chance to talk to, huh?” I said.

“Oh, man, without a doubt!” he said. “I’d love to hear all about his story.”

Unfortunately, by the time yours truly stumbled upon Mr. Garvey’s legendary leap, and how he spent the rest of his life giving back to a world that was so hard on him and took so much from him, it was too late.

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