32¢ Jim Thorpe at Stockholm Olympics
Celebrate the Century – 1910s
Issue Date: February 3, 1998
City: Washington, DC
Printed By: Ashton-Potter (USA) Ltd
Printing Method: Lithographed
Jim Thorpe (1887-1953) was one the greatest athletes of all time. A Native American, Thorpe was born in Oklahoma. His athletic career began at the Carlisle Pennsylvania Indian Industrial School. Legendary football coach “Pop” Warner discovered Thorpe’s incredible talent when he saw him high jumping six feet in his street clothes; he went on to become a top performer in track and football.
Thorpe left Carlisle to play two seasons of minor league baseball, but returned in 1911 to lead the football team to national fame. He was named to the All-American team.
At the 1912 Stockholm Olympics, Thorpe became the first athlete ever to win gold medals in both the pentathlon and decathlon. His score of 8,412 points in the decathlon was not exceeded for 15 years. In 1913, Thorpe’s medals were taken away when it was learned he had played professional baseball, a violation of his amateur status. However, the medals were restored by the International Olympic Committee in 1982.
From 1913 to 1919, Thorpe played professional baseball for three major league teams. From 1915 to 1930, he played with seven professional football teams. His fame helped to establish football as a popular sport. In 1920 Thorpe became the National Football League’s first commissioner.