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Jesse Owens Was (Briefly) (Really!) a Coach for the Mets

A photo of Jesse Owens in a Mets jersey, leaping over a bat held by two men in suitsCharles Payne/NY Daily News via Getty Images and the SI Photo Blog

I can’t stop looking at Jesse Owens‘ awesomely elegant right sock in this photo.

The year: 1965. Three decades after his Olympic triumphs in the Berlin Olympics of 1936, Jesse Owens was hired by the New York Mets as a running instructor for spring training.

“If a ballplayer keeps his knee higher and his arm is carried forward, it can make the difference between him getting a hit and being out,” Owens told UPI at the time.

The photo is courtesy of the wonderful Sports Illustrated photo blog.

That’s Yankee great Yogi Berra holding the bat on the left. Yogi signed with the Mets as a player-coach that year, but played only four games before throwing in the towel as a player on May 9th, a week before his 40th birthday. It was that kind of year: the Mets went 50-112, their worst record ever, finishing a remarkable 47 games out of first place in the National League.

Jesse Owens was born 100 years ago this month. He was 51 at the time of this photo, and you try leaping over a bat in the coat check room at that age. He was a marvel.

See more Jesse Owens photos »

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