Bullet' Bob Hayes Commemorated in Bronze.

November 07, 2002  

A commemorative bronze sculpture of Bob Hayes, Olympic gold medal sprinter and Dallas Cowboy football star, will be unveiled at the A. Philip Randolph Heritage Park in East Jacksonville, Florida on Saturday, November 16th at 11:00 a.m. The project was spear headed by District 7 Councilwoman Pat Lockett-Felder, a childhood friend of Hayes. The sculpture, Passing the Torch, was commissioned by the City of Jacksonville as part of the ten-year Better Jacksonville beautification plan and was created by Delaware sculptor, Kristen Visbal. The work depicts Hayes, who passed away September18, 2002 at age 59, running in 1964 Olympic attire and bearing the streamlined Japanese torch of that year in his left hand. The life-size bronze measures 81' high and will be mounted on a two-tier granite base.

Hayes' 8.6 second relay split performance in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics won him the title of 'fastest man on earth' and a position as receiver for the Dallas Cowboys football team. Hayes made the transition from track to football look easy and attempts to counter his incredible speed resulted in the development of many of today's football defense strategies. After eleven years of NFL ball, this outstanding athlete had 71 touchdown catches, had played the Pro Bowl three times and is to this day, the only athlete to win an Olympic gold medal and a Super Bowl ring. Hayes was inducted the 11th member of the Cowboys Ring of Honor in September 2001.

Sculptor Kristen Visbal developed the work from seven running photos provided by the U.S. Olympic Committee, Hayes' alma mater Florida A;M University, and the Florida Times-Union newspaper. The sculptor also met with Mr. Hayes on several occasions to obtain basic body proportions. 'Bob was amazing. Every photo I saw showed him running on his toes, as if the bottoms of his feet never actually hit the ground! So, I sculpted him on his toes just the way he looked in the '64 Olympics. Bob did see photos of the clay model and was pleased but we are all so disappointed that he won't be there for the unveiling. Bob was an athletic legend and I'm happy I had the opportunity to sculpt him,' says Visbal.

A. Philip Randolph Heritage Park, located at 1096 A. Philip Randolph Blvd., was chosen as the installation site to grace the neighborhood Mr. Hayes grew up in. Passing the Torch is particularly significant as it commemorates an early Olympian, many of which were rarely given the same recognition as today's Olympians.

For further information contact (904) 630-1384.