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"Spiked Shoes and Cinder Paths"

In 1924 Sport Story Magazine published a serialized version of the autobiography of Irish-American Athletic Club champion Melvin W. Sheppard.  No doubt proud of their scoop, the editors wrote:

“If you happen to be in a club room, and one of the really great athletes of all time was sitting there with a group of friends, telling them about hi athletic experiences at home and abroad, telling them how he came to be an athlete and explaining how he made himself a champion of champions, would you stay a while and listen?  Of course you would!  You would think the chance to good to miss.

“In ‘Spiked Shoes and Cinder Paths’ Mel Sheppard sits down with the readers of SPORT STORY and tells them the story of a brilliant career in sport.  He tells it interestingly and modestly and he tells it in his own words.  This is no yarn spun by a “ghost” writer and signed with a name famous in the world of sport.  Mel Sheppard writes as well as he ran – and that is high praise indeed.

“Of course you have heard that Melvin W. Sheppard was a great runner, but perhaps, if you belong to the younger sports generation, you don’t know just how great a runner he was.  He will tell you.  In 1910 he broke ten world’s records within seven weeks.  He won the half-mile championship of the United States five times, the 1,000-yards indoor championship three times, and the one-mile indoor championship twice.  He also won Canadian, British and Scottish championships.  At the Olympic Games in London in 1908 he was the highest individual scorer, and upon his return home was congratulated by President Roosevelt for his work.

“Mel Sheppard was a likable man, and this quality is as pronounced in his writing as it is in his personal contacts.  He made a host of friends in and out of sport, and his printed story is going to add many thousands to the long list of people who like him.

“Nearly every one likes to read true stories of achievement, whatever its field.  Becoming a great athlete requires the same fundamental qualities as does becoming a great doctor, or a great manufacturer, or a millionaire.  Mel Sheppard’s ‘Spiked Shoes and Cinder Paths’ is as interesting as autobiography as we ever have read.  We want you to read it, too.”

While a few original copies of this document still exist, “Spiked Shoes and Cinder Paths” is an extremely rare autobiography. The Winged Fist Organization is proud to make the full text of Mel Sheppard’s story available again to a new generation of track & field and Olympic enthusiasts.

"Spiked Shoes and Cinder Paths," by Melvin W. Sheppard. (23 MB)