Class of 1940
If you were a high school track and field sprint fan in the post-Jesse Owens era leading into World War II – and residing in the Northeast, South or Midwest – you might not have ever heard much about Eddie Morris. That is, the “Huntington Beach Bullet” or the “Blonde Bullet,” as many liked to call him. But if you were California, especially Southern California, it was another story. If it hadn’t been for WWII and the cancellation of the 1940 and ’44 Olympic Games – not to mention a unusually bad hamstring injury – Morris might have truly been a part of the American sprint legacy. He might have challenged even more of Owens’ records than he did as a schoolboy.
The progress of Morris’s career at Huntington Beach took him to 1940 as a senior, when his performances drew comparisons to Owens. He lowered his 100y times to 9.6(9.5w) and 10.4 for 100m – which tied Owens’ 1933 mark and lasted until 1959. He would also run 20.7 for 220y, equaling another Owens time which would prevail for 13 years. He swept the California state and AAU Junior titles in both events, as well as running 4th in the AAU seniors – ranking 5th in the world in the 100 and 4th in the 220 for the year.
This was all the culmination of events which began with Morris moving to California from Kansas with his family in 1931, while he was age 8. In 1937, during a gym class while a freshman at Huntington Beach, he was discovered while long jumping by Coach Harry M. (Cap) Sheue. After a year of hard training, he started excelling on the track and becoming something of a celebrity in the small town of 3,500 residents. Morris would become a 3-time state and Southern Section champion in the 220y, and 2-time SS champ in the 100. Even in 1938, the local media was touting him as a 1940 Olympic prospect.
But the war put paid to those hopes. Morris went to Santa Ana JC after high school, but suffered a brutal hamstring pull during a practice meet. Though he signed and competed for USC beginning in 1942, the injury never really healed and Morris wasn’t the same. After college, Morris had a 39-year career as a pipeline controller for a Long Beach oil corporation before retiring, then passed in 2002 at age 79.
Did You Know?
Eddie Morris was known as the “World’s Fastest Schoolboy” during his days at Huntington Beach.