Daniel was a runner. He loved to run. Starting at an early age he showed his capability to race and beat his contemporaries. He became an icon similar to Michael Jordan and Nike today, Jeff Gordon for Pepsi and Dupont, Christie Brinkley for Total Gym and cosmetics, Danica Patrick for Go Daddy, Serena Williams for Nike and Dennis Haysbert for Allstate Insurance. It can be safely argued that Daniel showed the way for these notables of today.
He endorsed cigars when they were not as vilified as today, children's toys, watches, washing machines, gasoline engines and livestock feeds.
He was noted as being "kindhearted, generous and a staunch Methodist who never performed on Sunday," and traveled thousands of miles each year in a private railroad car. Today, celebrities ride in planes, limos and huge motor homes costing up to millions of dollars.
Daniel came from humble beginnings being born on a farm in the northwest quadrant of Indiana. He grew into a body that seemed fitted for running. Not at first. His legs did not cooperate and he found it difficult to stand and walk at the usual time of his age group. He needed assistance to stand and to learn to walk. Friends, neighbors and family doubted he would overcome these odds.
Danny continued to grow and with patience and assistance he grew to be a bit taller than average and weighed more than his fellows. He liked to run and in running much like Forrest Gump he found his niche. In his first official race at Boswell he outclassed all competitors. He became quite a Hoosier Legend.
Over the next decade or so he, as Glen Cunningham, ran and ran winning race after race. Cunningham was burned severely on his legs as a child. He began to run to strengthen his legs and became an Olympic Champion. Born in Kansas, he repeatedly broke world and national records in the mile run. He became known as the "Kansas Flyer."
Daniel's racing career lasted for over 10 years and he never lost a race. He lost two times in some preliminary heats. One of the losses he started dead last and was still last three fourths of the way in the race. He turned on the after burners and passed runner after runner but lost the heat by a nose.
At about year three of his career, Daniel raced in Cleveland, Columbus, Buffalo, Brighton Beach and then at Readville, Massachusetts. He won all 12 races and earned a princely sum for his day. He was the most talked about phenomenon on the American sports scene.
His home town honored him with a festival and parade. He was approachable, recognized friends, moved to the music and delighted everyone. Newspapers began to praise the humble small town runner. His renown grew and grew as 600 papers carried articles on him.
As time passed, more and more people refused to race him for fear of the inevitable loss so Daniel began to race the clock and set several records that lasted for years.
His fame continued to escalate and he made thousands of dollars through racing and endorsements. His public appearances earned him much money as people turned out by the thousands to see him.
Danny overcame a serious illness and returned to racing. In his 10th year of racing his health declined and he had to retire from running. His era ended.
He and his owner, yes I said his owner, fell ill in July 1916. They both died within hours of each other on July 11. You see, Daniel was in reality the Great Dan Patch, a sulky racing horse who never lost a race. And there you have ANOTHER HOOSIER MOMENT.
My website Larryvandeventer.com - Read about me, my books, and my columns. Larry Vandeventer grew up North of Calvertville on a farm and graduated from Worthington High School and Indiana State U. He can be reached at Goosecrick@aol.com or 317-839-7656.