CRESTVIEW — The world knew him as Houston McTear, but to his family he was “Edward.”
In the mid-1970s, Houston Edward McTear streaked across the track and field galaxy like a shooting star in search of his own place.
McTear, a 1976 Baker School graduate, tied the world record in the 100-yard dash on May 9, 1975 as an 18-year-old high school junior. He later set world records in the 60-yard dash and 60-meter dash.
McTear crossed life’s finish line at 6:30 p.m. local time Saturday at age 58. He was living in Stockholm Sweden at the time. Lung cancer is the opponent that ran him down in a way that no man could.
Happy days in Milligan
Houston, the second of Eddie and Margree McTear’s eight children, had no formal training as a sprinter, but his natural ability more than made up for it.
George McTear, Houston’s older brother, and Charles, the middle brother, spoke about their famous sibling Monday afternoon.
George was born Feb. 14, 1956. Houston was born Feb.13, 1957.
“We were the same age one day,” George said. “There were good times in Milligan. Those were the days.
“All my uncles and my granddaddy lived right there in Milligan.”
George remembered the days in Milligan when he and Houston would test their speed against the locomotive that traveled the train tracks next to their house.
“We used to run that train every time it would come through,” George said. “He (the engineer) would blow that horn when he got to the river and let us know was coming through. He would blow it three times to let us know it was him.”
Following in Houston’s footsteps
Charles was four years behind Houston, but he said he never felt as if he was living in his brother’s shadow. He laughed as he shared a story about wanting to be like Houston.
“When we were little, sometimes I would go with my parents to the store,” Charles said. “We would get in the car and be riding down the road and, the next thing you know, we would see him lying on the side of the road. He had done fell off the bicycle, all cramped up.
“The craziest part is I just thought he was getting all of the attention. I would be like, ‘I hope I cramp like that.’ Little did I know I would get what I was wishing for -- as I grew up, I starting cramping, all the time.”
After high school, Charles moved in with Houston in California, where he was a member of a track team sponsored by boxing great Muhammad Ali track club. Ali also sponsored a boxing team, and Charles became friends with some of boxing and track's biggest names.
“It was cool,” he said. “They would never call me by my name. It was always ‘Little Houston.’
“Even when I would go to track meets and win a race, they would say, ‘The younger brother of Houston McTear instead of Charles.’ I didn’t see him as a celebrity, I saw him as my brother.”
Baker School athletic director and football Coach Matt Brunson was a Gator pup when Houston McTear added to his legend at a Baker football game in the fall of 1975.
“I was a 6-year-old first-grader when Bill Adams got his quarter horse out and raced Houston,” Brunson said. I remember them starting on the south-end goal line and having about a 60-yard sprint, and Houston outrunning the horse.
“We talk about traditions and famous people that came out of Baker, but in the 1970s Houston put Baker on the map.”
Sometimes forgotten beneath Houston McTear’s track records was a football player who averaged more than 14 yards a carry and gained more than 1,300 yards rushing in 1974.
Brunson said the Gators will honor Houston in a pregame ceremony Nov. 13 before Baker’s football team’s opening round playoff game with Graceville.