The Bob Hayes Invitational Track and Field Meet was organized in the spring of 1964 with Douglas Anderson High School in the Southside serving as the host and Northwestern High School in the Northside area serving as the running site.
At that time, originator Nathaniel S. Washington, Sr. was Athletic Director, Head Coach and Track Coordinator for the five black high schools in the county, namely: New Stanton,Matthew W. Gilbert, Douglas Anderson, Northwestern, and Stanton Vocational High School.
Nat Washington was a close friend of Bob Hayes father and knew Bob as a student at Matthew W. Gilbert School where Washington was coaching before transferring to Douglas Anderson High School.
In the 1964 Olympics, Bob ran in the slowest lane, tied the world record of 10.0 in the 100 meter race, and won two gold medals. Bob Hayes was once regarded as the "World's Fastest Human" and in the 1963 AAU meet in St. Louis, set a world record of 9.1 seconds in the 100 yard dash. He won the 100 meter dash in Tokyo, Japan with a time of 10 seconds flat, trying the world and Olympic records. In addition to the 100 yard dash record, Hayes held world marks in the 60 and 70 yard dashes.
When Hayes returned to the States on his way home to Jacksonville, Nat Washington phoned Bob and extended the congratulations of the City of Jacksonville, all the Jacksonville Coaches and friends of Bob. He then asked Bob for his permission to sponsor and name a track meet in his honor for his world accomplishment in track. That permission was granted.
The sponsoring School, Douglas Anderson High School, under the director of Nat Washington, along with the Principal, Chester R. Cowart, put together the first Bob Hayes Meet. Royal Crown Bottling Company, served as Co-sponsor, purchasing the awards for the presentation to all winners.
A committee was formed to assist with operating and conducting of the track meet. Serving on the original committee were Earl S. Kitching (then Head coach of Matthew W. Gilbert), Jimmie Johnson (then Coach at Northwestern High School), Willie Richardson (then Athletic Director of Northwestern High School), Edwin Lawson (then Athletic Director of James Weldon
Johnson High School), Bobby Grover, and Oliver Walker. Assistance was also provided by the City of Jacksonville Recreation Department.
The first annual Bob Hayes Meet began very small with only the five black local high schools participating; Matthew W. Gilbert, Douglas Anderson, New Stanton, Northwestern, and Stanton Vocational High School. The winner of the first Bob Hayes Meet in 1964 was Northwestern with Julie Walden coaching.
The meet grew the second year to include teams participating from three colleges, namely Edward Waters, South Carolina State, and Savannah State College of Georgia. High Schools attending the second meet were Raines, Matthew Gilbert, Stanton Vocational and Douglas Anderson of Jacksonville; Deaf and Blind School of St.Augustine; Fessenden of Ocala; Center High School of Waycross, Georgia; and Howard High of Ocala. The winner of the second Bob Hayes Meet in 1965 was Raines High School of Jacksonville.
Track and Field took on a new meaning in Jacksonville during the third year of the Bob Hayes Invitational Meet.Teams participating were: Stanton Vocational, Douglas Anderson, New Stanton, Matthew Gilbert and Raines (all from Jacksonville) , and Carver of Delray, Central of Palatka, Northwestern of Miami, Howard and Fessenden of Ocala, Lincoln High of Gainesville, Monroe of Cocoa Beach, Carver Height of Leesburg and Center of Waycross.
Northwestern of Miami dominated the field activities and won the Third Annual Bob Hayes Invitational Meet. The Miami team racked up a total of 101 ½ points in the twelve (12) school meet. William M. Raines, the defending champion, was a distant second with 69 points. Following were Stanton Vocational with 40 points, Carver of Delray - 37 ½ , Central
of Palatka - 29, Fessendes of Ocala -6, Douglas Anderson -4,and Monroe of Cocoa - 4. Earning 2 points each were Center of Waycross, Carver Height of Leesburg, Lincoln of Gainesville and the Deaf and Blind of St. August.
Coach Louie Bing of Northwestern of Miami assisted by James Walker were commended
and will long be remembered as the coaches who gave Track and Field a new beginning in Jacksonville and in the State of Florida. Northwestern of Miami was the fourth year winner.
In 1968, Douglas Anderson High School was phased out in the school desegregation plan, leaving the host school without a home base to continue the meet. Nat Washington, originator of the meet, asked Principal, Dr. Andrew A. Robinson and Track Coach James Day to continue the meet. They agreed to do so and the running site was moved from Northwestern to Raines High under a new meet director, James Day and has continues to be hosted by Raines.
During the 1978-1979 school year, the name of the meet was changed to Raines High Invitational because of the charges filed against Bob Hayes and his serving 10 months in the Texas investigation over a narcotic case. Losing the name only one year, it resumed in 1980 as the Bob Hayes Invitational and has continued.
From 1985 through 1995, Pepsi Cola and Publix Food sponsored the meet along with providing scholarship for minority students. In 1996 a graduate of Raines High, Lewis Slipin, Owner of Slipin Enterprises, Operator of Church's Chicken became sponsor of the meet along with Coca Cola sponsoring and implementing a Bob Hayes Middle School Invitational on Friday before the high school meet.
Over the past five years (1996-2001) Slipin Enterprises has continued to sponsor the high
school meet, along with the assistane (2000) of the City of Jacksonville. We gladly welcomed Pepsi Bottling Company back on board (2001) as a co-sponsor and sponsor of the Middle School meet.
Marking an Olympic Year and in conjunction with the State of Florida in celebration of the 1996 Olympics to be held in the United States (Atlanta, GA), an award winning ceremony was held, beginning the Friday Night before the Middle School Invitational with the Jacksonville Track Club carrying the Torch, in which Bob Hayes opened the 1964 Olympic games in Tokyo, Japan, from the birth place of Bob Hayes (Eastside) to Raines Stadium. Bob Hayes , received the torch in the stadium from the President of the Jacksonville Track Club, John Tensbroeck. Carrying the torch in his left hand and a bouquet of roses in his right hand, he circled the entire track once and proceeded down the middle of the oval reaching the 16' glass torch, assisted by the 1996 sponsor, Lewis Slipin and a Top Official from the state department lite the torch
which burned throughout the night. The ceremony on Saturday was held during the intermission with the relighting of the glass torch by Bob Hayes which honored all invited Olympians, Coaches, Elected School Board, City, County , State and Bob Hayes Meet Officials.
Recognizing the Olympic years from 1996 and every Olympic year there after the Bob Hayes Invitational engages in a ceremony during intermission acknowledging local, and state official and visiting Olympians.
For first time in the history of the Bob Hayes Invitational Track and Field Meet, 1997 boys division was won by an out of state school, B.E. Mays High of Atlanta, Georgia Coached by Terry Davis. Congratulation Coach Davis!!!
Ending the 1997 school year, Track Coach ,Athletic and Meet Director James Day retired from the Duval County School System after 39 year of dedicated service, but remained as Meet Director for the Bob Hayes. We salute him for his years of service.
1998 marked the 34th year of the Bob Hayes Invitational Track and Field Meet. Words, praise and commendations cannot express the many thanks owed to Principal Roy Mitchell, Meet Director James Day and Raines Athletic Director and Track Coach Kim Anderson for the hard work and dedication which they have given to the continuance of the meet.
Changes at the helm, the Bob Hayes Committee welcomed aboard Raines new 1998-99 Athletic Director, Douglas White.
Coach Day's involvement in the Florida Athletic Coaches Association has proved to the State Coaches' Association that Track and Field is worthy of the support they have given through their participation in the Bob Hayes Meet. This meet has grown to draw over 150 teams throughout the United State, Canada, and the Virgin Islands with well over 3000 Athletes participating yearly. Known as the largest one day High School Track and Field Event in the United States, these Events now receive international news cover.
After 51 years, the meet at the hands of Coach James Day, Assistants, Committee and Sponsor continues to grow. There is full promotional tape product each year, with the extension of a week long of activities to include the James (Coach) Day Scholarship Golf Tournament and The Hall of Fame Banquet.
Left to Right: Charles "Bobby" Grover, Jimmy Johnson, Willie Richardson (Deceased),
James Day, Meet Director/Developer, Robert "Bob" Hayes, (Deceased), Edwin Lawson,
Nathaniel Washington, Originator, and Earl Kitchings (Not Shown) Oliver Walker.