Michael Carter’s Historic Launch

May 18, 2015

Home » Commentary » Michael Carter’s Historic Launch

I remember Michael Carter’s final shot put, of course, no one present will forget that, but first I felt the wind getting stronger throughout that late afternoon in June 1979. I was wearing a tank top, instead of something more protective and professionally appropriate, and the weather gods lashed me as well as several thousand others in attendance at Sacramento State University. Had I not been covering the meet as a correspondent, and witnessing a preposterous series of puts by Carter, I would have left early or sought shelter behind some distant wall. Instead, I hungrily watched near the landing area.

Carter throughout the track season had dominated the prep world of 12-pound shot putters as no one ever had, demolishing the national record by several feet with a heave of 77 feet, and this day putting 75-5¼, 75-1, fouling on one that sailed more than 75 feet, letting another slip off his right hand for a mere 67-7½, and, on his next to last put, uncorking 76-4¼, his third longest ever. Here is a revised version of what I wrote after the meet:

Carter was getting ready to make his final throw when half-mile runners rounded the last turn, arousing the fans, so he waited several seconds and then decided to step out of the rink until the race ended. When the cheering ceased Carter readied himself again, crouched in throwing position, then exploded across the rink and let out his loudest yell of the evening. The shot took off at high velocity, rising and rising, and seemed to carry beyond what would be attainable for a human being. When the iron ball landed at 81-3½ it shattered the efforts of any other prep in history by more than nine feet. Knowing he’d done something extraordinary, Carter jumped out of the rink and ran and grabbed the American flag that marked his old record, and waved the flag while being congratulated by competitors, coaches and fans.

“It feels real good to do this,” he said. “My goal all year has been 80 feet, so this is just great. Before my last put I was pumped up and psyched. From my knees up I felt real good. I could tell I was going to do something big. I might not have gone so far if I’d thrown when the fans were cheering. I couldn’t concentrate.”

Reviewing that season, I see Michael Carter had already put the 16-pound shot 66-4, topping all but one adult competitor in the United States. There could have been world records on Carter’s resume, but he also played football in college and planned a career in the NFL. Just before retiring from track he won the silver medal at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. He’s perhaps the only medalist better known for his prep exploits than those as an Olympian. He then joined my favorite team, the San Francisco 49ers, and for nine years hardened the middle of a stellar defense that featured safety Ronnie Lott and, combined with the offensive wizardry of Joe Montana and Jerry Rice, earned the Niners three of their five Super Bowl titles.

Carter became a father in 1985, and for years has tutored his daughter Michelle, who like him set a national high school record in the shot put, and has also won five outdoor national titles and twice made the Olympic team, finishing 15th and fifth in the two most recent Games, and set the American women’s record of 66-5 in 2013. She’s now focusing on the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Her father will be there too. Whether or not they discuss it, both will recall the windy 1979 day when Michael Carter put the shot into history.

George Thomas Clark

George Thomas Clark is the author of Hitler Here, a biographical novel published in India and the Czech Republic as well as the United States. His commentaries for GeorgeThomasClark.com are read in more than 50 countries a month.

Recent Commentary

Books

HITLER HERE is a well researched and lyrically written biographical novel offering first-person stories by the Fuehrer and a variety of other characters. This intimate approach invites the reader to peer into Hitler’s mind, talk to Eva Braun, joust with Goering, Goebbels, and Himmler, debate with the generals, fight on land and at sea and…
See More
Art history and fiction merge to reveal the lives and emotions of great painters Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, William H. Johnson, Lee Krasner, and many others.
See More
This fast-moving collection blends fiction and movie history to illuminate the stimulating lives and careers of noted actors, actresses, and directors. Stars of this book include Humphrey Bogart, Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe, Bette Davis, Alfred Hitchcock, Clint Eastwood, Cate Blanchett, and Spike Lee.
See More
In this collection of thirty-eight chiseled short stories, George Thomas Clark introduces readers to actors, alcoholics, addicts, writers famous and unknown, a general, a lovelorn farmer, a family besieged by cancer, extraterrestrials threatening the world, a couple time traveling back to a critical battle, a deranged husband chasing his wife, and many more memorable people…
See More
Anne Frank On Tour and Other Stories
This lively collection offers literary short stories founded on History, Love, Need, Excess, and Final Acts.
See More
In lucid prose author George Thomas Clark recalls the challenges of growing up in a family beset by divorce, depression, and alcoholism, and battling similar problems as an adult.
See More
Let’s invite many of the greatest boxers and their contemporaries to tell their own stories, some true, others tales based on history. The result is a fascinating look into the lives and battles of those who thrilled millions but often ruined themselves while so doing.
See More
In a rousing trip through the worlds of basketball and football, George Thomas Clark explores the professional basketball league in Mexico, the Herculean talents of Wilt Chamberlain, the artistry of LeBron James, the brilliance of Bill Walsh, and lots more. Half the stories are nonfiction and others are satirical pieces guided by the unwavering hand of an inspired storyteller.
See More
Get on board this collection of satirical stories, based on news, about the entertaining but absurd and often quite dangerous events following the election of President Donald J. Trump in November 2016 until January 6, 2021, shortly after his loss to Joe Biden.
See More
Join Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush and other notables on a raucous ride into a fictional world infused with facts from one of the roughest political races in modern U.S. history.
See More
History and literary fiction enliven the Barack Obama phenomenon from the African roots of his father and grandfather to the United States where young Obama struggles to control vices and establish his racial identity. Soon, the young politician is soaring but under fire from a variety of adversaries including Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Sarah Palin, Sean Hannity, and Rush Limbaugh.
See More
These satirical columns allow startlingly candid Saddam Hussein and George W. Bush to explain their need to control the destinies of countries, regions, and, ultimately, the world. Osama bin Laden, Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Karl Rove, and other notables, not all famous, also demand part of the stage.
See More
Where Will We Sleep
Determined to learn more about those who fate did not favor, the author toured tattered, handmade refuges of those without homes and interviewed them on the streets and in homeless shelters, and conversed with the poor in the United States, Mexico, Ecuador, and Spain, and on occasion wrote composite stories to illuminate their difficult lives.
See More
In search of stimulating stories, the author interviewed prostitutes in Madrid, Mexico City, Havana, and Managua and on many boulevards in the United States, and he talked to detectives and rode the rough roads of social workers who deal with human trafficking, which is contemporary slavery, and sometimes used several lives to create stories, and everywhere he ventured he witnessed struggles of those whose lives are bound In Other Hands.
See More
In compressed language Clark presents a compilation of short stories and creative columns about relationships between men and women.
See More
Political Satire for Progressives
Available now in a single digital-only volume of four books: Echoes from Saddam Hussein, Obama on Edge, King Donald, and Down Goes Trump. In his signature style, George Thomas Clark combines satire and creative writing to illuminate many historic developments this century. Echoes from Saddam Hussein – Saddam Hussein and George W. Bush candidly explain their need to control the…
See More