7. 1909: Polo Grounds
25,000 people came to the Polo Grounds on May 1909 not to watch The New York Baseball Giants, but to watch the best runners in the world compete in what was called a “Marathon Derby.” Participants included the Olympic champion Hayes, his Italian rival Dornado (who collapsed midway during the race), the Canadian Native-American Longboat and Matthew Maloney, winner of the Evening Journal marathon. However even with all four as heavy favorites, they lost to a man the papers called “The Flying Frenchman.” Henri St. Yves, a French waiter walked (more like ran) away from the Polo Grounds an extra $10,000 richer. The event was a major event, with people waiting in Times Square for news of the race and bookies taking bets on the racers. St. Yves would also win the famous waiter race in France, fittingly.
It should also be noted that the only American among the 13 that competed that day was a man named Crook. The American came close to catching the French waiter, but was unable to surpass him and in a goof, ran an extra lap because he did not know the race was over.