A day time stood still: Baker's McTear dashes into limelight


It was May 9, 1975, when Houston McTear came busting toward the finish line in the high school state track and field meet at Showalter Field in Winter Haven.

The event was a preliminary heat leading to the 100-yard dash final in Class AA. The stands were far from full. Not all eyes were trained on what was playing out before them.

What happened next changed the destiny of one life and unintentionally sharpened the focus on the backwoods Florida Panhandle. One stopwatch, and this helps clarify an era of hand-timed races as well as the distinction of yards compared to the metric standard that finally gained hold two years later, clocked McTear in 8.9 seconds. Two others read 9.0.

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  • mark4606 / 4 Years Ago
    Excellent article. Remembered seeing him run when I was in high school. Always curious as to what became of him. Look forward to the continuiation of the series should you post those as well.
  • srowell1975 / 2 Years Ago
    Great article. I was at the state meet in Winter Park, Fl running the 880 yard dash for Jay High School. Houston was a friend of mine since our first meet our 9th grade year. Houston was held back that year for poor grade performance. In his first race at Jay he ran and beat Calvin Culliver the defending Alabama 3A state champion from W.S. Neal High in East Brewton, Alabama. In 1975 at the state meet Houston ran a 9.0 100yd dash. The picture above is the finals where he ran a slower time. His best race wasn't the 100yd dash that night, it was his split in the 220yd anchor leg when he ran a split of 19.1 from a dead stop to catch up from last place to win the 880yd relay for Baker. At that time that was another world class performance from Houston. Greatest natural athlete of all time. He averaged over 14 yds a carry his junior year of football. Long jumped 24 feet 1 inches. Out ran a horse during a football game halftime in the 100 yard dash.
  • srowell1975 / 2 Years Ago
    I was living in Atlanta and a sportwriter fron the Atlanta Constitution interviewed with him back in late 90's over the phone. Houston married a Swedish Olympian sprinter and has a couple of kids. They were living outside of London, England and were very happy. His little son had superman pajamas on in the picture.
  • snappers / 1 Years Ago
    He was the 1975 High School Athlete of the Year, as selected by Track and Field News. Houston McTear's meteoric rise was effectively ended by the American-led boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics, and he subsequently fell into obscurity, drug abuse and homelessness. He was often seen panhandling on the boardwalk of Santa Monica's muscle beach area. Fortunately, he later met a former Swedish sprint champion (Linda Haglund) thanks to some help from a former benefactor, who helped him mount a comeback attempt in Europe. He won the 60 meters at the Swedish Indoor Championships in 1990 with a time of 6.68s, but again fell victim to frequent injuries, like the one that caused him to get booted off the 1976 US Olympic team.
  • warrehouse / 1 Years Ago
    I was there but was in the parking lot for the WR. I recall later see Houston anchor the 880 Relay which Baker won. I believe they were 2nd maybe 3rd at the exchange, then Houston runs a 19.00 split blowing the doors off the others, the stadium was electrified. The next year at The Sunshine Classic Houston got an opportunity to race Cyril Wyatt at the 100 & 220 distances amoung Florida's best. In the 220 Houston would battle until late Cyril with a slight lead, Houston grabs his left hamstring,coasting in, Cyril 21.3, Houston 21.5. Maybe that is where he was injured, prior to the Olympics. It was also Houston's first lost to another prep. But would win the 100m, of course, 10.3, Cyril maybe 10.5! It was the lst race of the meet, so designed and centered around Houston, believing he could tie the WR 9.9. It was a terribly windy day I remember! They ran into the wind!
  • warrehouse / 1 Years Ago
    By the way, Was Charles McTear a brother or cousin of Houston? Charles was 1A 220 champ was a 22.89.