I once belonged to the University of Chicago Track Club that was famous for its coach Ted Haydon because of his humorous personality and his uncanny ability to attract word-class runners and mediocre runners alike. He was the U.S.A. track coach for the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, but back home in Chicago he coached all comers regardless of ability. He took a personal interest in all his runners and remembered personal details about all of them. He actually knew everyone’s name and at least one personal detail about every runner in his track club. All his runners loved him.
I remember him because he took a personal interest in my standup comedy. He told me about how the very famous comedian Dick Gregory had once belonged to U.C.T.C. and had performed his comedy routine at the annual track club dinner. Ted offered me the same opportunity to perform at the dinner in 1984 and 1985. I was extremely nervous, but I performed anyway, with moderate success. As a result of my first performance, I was asked to write the humor column “Dear Dr. Sidestitch” for the CARA Finish Line. Of course, I was really thankful to Ted for this opportunity because from then on I took comedy more seriously.
Once, I noticed that some of the club members began wearing T-shirts that had the letters “FYMNITH” on the back. I tried unsuccessfully to decode this cryptic message. Finally, someone told that when Ted was a student at the University of Chicago in the 1950s, his friends would approach stangers on campus and shout, “Fuck you!” As they ran away, they would say, “My name is Ted Haydon.” Hence the letters on the back of the T-shirts. When I asked Ted if he approved of this new track club apparel, he merely smiled, but said nothing.
Click here to read an article that I wrote about Ted Haydon for the Illinois Runner in May of 1985: