||This article includes a list of references, related reading or external links, but its sources remain unclear because it lacks inline citations. (June 2013)|
|Born||May 24, 1875
Baltimore County, Maryland
|Died||April 25, 1961
|Height||1.88 m (6 ft 2 in)|
|Weight||81 kg (180 lb; 12.8 st)|
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (October 2013)|
Born in Baltimore County, Maryland, Garrett came from a wealthy family and studied in Princeton University. He excelled in track and field athletics as an undergraduate, and was captain of the Princeton track team in both his junior and senior years. Garrett was primarily a shot-putter, though he also competed in the jumping events. When he decided to compete in the first modern Olympics in 1896, Professor William Milligan Sloane suggested he should also try the discus.
They consulted classical authorities to develop a drawing and Garrett hired a blacksmith to make a discus. It weighed nearly 30 pounds (14 kg) and it was impossible to throw any distance, so he gave up on the idea. Garrett paid for his own and three classmates' (Francis Lane third in 100 m, Herbert Jamison second in 400 m, and Albert Tyler second in pole vault) way to Athens to compete in the Olympics. When he discovered that a real discus weighs less than five pounds, he decided to enter the event for fun.
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The Greek discus throwers were true stylists. Each throw, as they spun and rose from a classical Discobolus stance, was beautiful.[attribution needed] Not so with Garrett, who seized the discus in his right hand and swinging himself around and around, the way the 16 pound hammer is usually thrown, threw the discus with tremendous force. Garrett's first two throws were embarrassingly clumsy. Instead of sailing parallel to the ground, the discus turned over and over and narrowly missed hitting some of the audience. Both foreigners and Americans laughed at his efforts and he joined in the general merriment. His final throw, however, punctuated with a loud grunt, sent the discus sailing 19 centimetres (7.5 in) beyond the best Greek competitor's Panagiotis Paraskevopoulos's mark to 29.15 metres (95 ft 8 in).
American spectator Burton Holmes wrote: "All were stupefied. The Greeks had been defeated at their own classic exercise. They were overwhelmed by the superior skill and daring of the Americans, to whom they ascribed a supernatural invincibility enabling them to dispense with training and to win at games which they had never before seen." The performances were remarkable. According to James Connolly, in five of the track and field events won by Americans, they had not had a single day of outdoor practice since the previous fall.
Garrett also won the shot put with a distance of 11.22 metres (36 ft 10 in) and finished second in the high jump (tied equally with James Connolly at 1.65 metres (5 ft 5 in)) and second in the long jump (with a jump of 6.00 metres (19 ft 8 in)).
In the 1984 NBC miniseries, The First Olympics: Athens 1896, he was portrayed by Hunt Block. In the second episode, Garrett was portrayed as being a participant in the first Olympic Marathon, which, in reality, he wasn't.
In the 1900 Olympics, Garrett placed third in the shot put and the standing triple jump. His bronze medal in the shot put was unusual, as he refused to compete in the final due to it being held on a Sunday. His qualifying mark was good enough to place him in third. He also competed in the discus throw again, but due to a poorly planned course was unable to set a legal mark as his discus throws all hit trees.
Garrett was the IC4A shot put champion in 1897.
In addition, Garrett was a member of the Tug-of-War team at the 1900 Olympics that was forced to withdraw because three of its six members were engaged in the hammer throw final.
Life after Olympics
Garrett later became a banker and donator to science, especially to history and archeology. He helped to organize and finance an archaeological expedition to Syria, led by Dr. John M. T. Finney. From 1932 to 1939, he was involved with the Committee for the Excavation of Antioch and Its Vicinity both helping to fund the excavations and working on them. His hobby was collecting Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts. In 1942 Garrett donated to Princeton University his collection of more than 11,000 manuscripts, including the Aksum Scrolls and sixteen Byzantine Greek manuscripts, containing rare and beautiful examples of illuminated Byzantine art for the use of scholars. He was for many years a trustee of Princeton University and The Baltimore Museum of Art.
Garrett had amassed this collection of historical volumes of Western and non-Western manuscripts, fragments, and scrolls, originating from Europe, the Near East, Africa, Asia and Mesoamerica, ca. 1340 B.C. – 1900s. He inherited his collecting interest from his father, Thomas Harrison Garrett, Princeton Class of 1868. After his father's sudden death in 1888, Garrett spent the following two and a half years traveling extensively with his mother and two brothers, Horatio and John, in Europe and the Near East. During his travels Garrett developed a particular interest in manuscripts and began collecting. He used the text Universal Paleography: or, Facsimiles of Writing of All Nations and Periods by J. B. Silvestre (by Sir Frederic Madden, London, 1949–50) as his guide for collecting primary examples of every known type of script.
Garrett was a leader in the development of public recreational facilities in Baltimore, many of which were privately funded by himself and his friends and colleagues. He was the first chairman of Baltimore's Department of Recreation, and the first chairman of the city's combined Department of Recreation and Parks. Mr. Garrett was through much of his life an active member of the National Recreation Association, and was elected its chairman in 1941. His value as a public citizen can clearly be recognized in the Baltimore mayoral campaign of 1947, when both the Republican and Democratic nominees promised that, if elected, they would name Garrett as chairman of the city's Department of Recreation and Parks. A devout Presbyterian throughout his life, he was a member of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of the United States, and was recognized in 1948 as the year's outstanding layperson in the field of religious education by the International Council of Religious Education.
Through a mayoral appointment, he served as the chairman of the city's Public Improvement Commission. He was also largely responsible for bringing the Boy Scouts of America to Baltimore in 1910, and took an active role in managing that organization in Baltimore until his retirement from the Baltimore Area Council in 1934. In 1919, Garrett gave to the City of Baltimore a tract of land in its Brooklyn neighborhood to be used as a public park, which was named in his honor; this was but one of many properties which he offered to the city for use as public parkland.
Garrett died on April 25, 1961, in Baltimore, Maryland.
- De Wael, Herman. Herman's Full Olympians: "Athletics 1900". Accessed 18 March 2006. Available electronically at .
- Mallon, Bill (1998). The 1900 Olympic Games, Results for All Competitors in All Events, with Commentary. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. ISBN 0-7864-0378-0.
- Robert Garrett Papers, 1903-1949 (bulk 1920-1945), Princeton University Library, Manuscripts Division. .
- The New York Times, Obituaries, April 26, 1961.
- The Baltimore Sun, Obituaries, April 26, 1961.
- "Antioch Field Excavation Reports, 1932-1935," Baltimore Museum of Art <http://bmoa.sirsi.net/uhtbin/cgisirsi/?ps=7Ul8jiLoos/0/149050013/8/140309/Garrett,+Robert,+1875-1961>
- "Robert Garrett Diaries and Calling Card,1899-1900," Baltimore Museum of Art<http://bmoa.sirsi.net/uhtbin/cgisirsi/?ps=fD7LfAdeVu/0/149050013/8/140344/Garrett,+Robert,+b.+1875>
- "Selected Maseterpieces from the Garret Collection of Prints," Baltimore Museum of Art<http://bmoa.sirsi.net/uhtbin/cgisirsi/?ps=bffbzljLyy/0/149050013/8/131050/Garrett,+Robert,+b.+1875--Art+collections--Exhibitions>