Thane Baker was born October 4, 1931, in Elkhart, Kansas. Baker attended Elkhart High School and went to Kansas State University after graduation. When Baker was young doctors had to remove a piece of steel embedded in his left knee, an injury that left him with one leg shorter than the other. Despite this difficulty Baker walked onto the track team at Kansas State. Baker won seven Big Seven titles and three Big Seven gold medals in the 100 and 220-meter races during his career at K-State. In 1953 Baker won the NCAA 220 yard race with a time of 21.5 seconds. Baker was also a four-time All-American during his career at Kansas State. In 1952 Baker competed in the Helsinki Olympics where he won the silver medal in the 200-meter race. After Baker graduated in 1953 with a degree in economics he joined the United States Air Force.
Officers in the Air Force gave Baker time off to train and compete in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. At Melbourne Baker won silver in the 100-meter sprint and bronze in the 200-meter sprint. Baker won gold with the men’s 4 x 100 meter relay team. After the Olympics Baker continued his service with the Air Force and finally retired in 1983. He also worked for Mobil Research and Development.
Baker continued to run track following the 1956 Olympics. After turning 40 Baker participated in the Masters Track and Field program and holds five world records. In 1975 Baker was inducted into the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame and in 1977 he was inducted into the Kansas State High School Activities Association Hall of Fame. In 1991 Baker was inducted into the USA Track and Field Masters Hall of Fame.
Entry: Baker, Thane
Author: Kansas Historical Society
Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history
Date Created: May 2012
Date Modified: July 2016
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