Jim Thorpe

When Thorpe won both the pentathlon and the decathlon at the 1912 Olympics, King Gustav of Sweden, the host country, said, “Sir, you are the greatest athlete in the world.” Sadly, Thorpe had to return his Olympic medals when it was discovered he’d played professional baseball in a low minor league for about $60 a month in 1909. Signed by the Giants, Thorpe had an undistinguished six-season ML career. Manager John McGraw claimed Thorpe couldn’t hit a curveball, but he actually disliked Thorpe’s easygoing personality. In 1919 Thorpe hit .327 in limited play with the Braves. Thorpe was twice All-America at Carlisle Indian School, and his later professional football career earned him enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. In 1950 he was voted the greatest athlete of the half-century. He appeared as a bit player in several movies, the best-known being the famous Cagney vehicle White Heat.