Thomas Richard “Dick” Blair – 2010 Inductee

One of the greatest athletes in Osborne County history was born in Osborne, Kansas in 1934.  Dick Blair attended Osborne High School, where he was a star sprinter on the track and field team.  He finished second in both the 100-yard dash and the 200-yard dash his junior year and again finished second in the 100 in 1952, his senior year.  This was good enough to land him a spot in college on the University of Kansas track team, which was very much in its heyday.

“Dr. Dick Blair was a member of a panel on running and jogging this past Wednesday night at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, and its probable no more than a few in the audience were aware the soft-spoken Mayo-trained internist was once one of the world’s fastest humans.  Certainly the slender, modest Blair wouldn’t volunteer such information.

“Not only was Dick a Big Eight 100 and 220-yard dash champion in the 1954-55-56 period of KU dominance of area track, but his teammates, including world-class performers such as (Bill) Nieder and Al Oerter, thought enough of  the talented medical student from Osborne to elect him captain for 1955-56.   One of their pet gags was the old Yogi Berra bit:  Nieder, Oerter et al would be horsing around, arm-wrestling with each other, or maybe with Wilt Chamberlain who happened to be going by the training room (and Wilt could hold his own even in that company).   Blair would be sitting in a corner poring over “Gray’s Anatomy,” and one of the musclemen would wander over and impishly ask him how the story turned out.

“Blair still rates among the top five 100-yard dash stars for KU with a 9.5, exceptional for the 1950s; ran the 100-yard dash in 10.4 in 1955; covered the 200–yard dash in 21.0 in 1956; and had a 20.8 clocking in the 220-yard dash in 1955.  He owned the Big 8 Conference 220-yard title in his three varsity years.

“Blair was selected an NCAA All-American in 1956.  When he talks about running, he speaks not only from the standpoint of a physician but as a one-time standout who’s been to the picnic and back with more than just moderate success.” – Bill Mayer,  Lawrence Journal-World , Monday, May 30, 1979 – Page 14.

In addition to the credits listed above, Blair was also twice conference champion in the 60-yard indoor dash; ranked 4th in the world in the 200-meters (1955); ranked 5th in the world in the 200-meters (1956); and was the alternate to the U.S. Olympic Team for the 200 meters at the Melbourne Olympic Games (1956).

In 1955 a U.S. track team including Blair went on tour across Europe and astonished the European press.

“He beat Janecek of Czechoslovakia by a city block every time they met,” marveled one reporter.  “Ran 100 meters in 10.4 seconds four times in a row.  Also did 21 seconds flat for 200 meters around a turn on two occasions.  He ran a 47.8-second 400-meter race in Copenhagen, Denmark.  Lost one race, in London, when he pulled up lame at the finish line.”

After graduation Dick went on to graduate from the University of Kansas School of Medicine in 1960.  He completed his internship at Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu, Hawaii, the next year and his residency at the Mayo Graduate School of Medicine in Rochester, Minnesota in 1966.  2012 year marks Dick Blair’s 52nd year as a medical doctor.

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