The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised

Court Hall Remembers . . .

Medford vs. Jacksonville

Court Hall Remembers---
(Recollections of Jackson County Sporting Events by Veteran Sportsman.)
    The heaviest betting I ever saw on a baseball game in this country occurred in the latter part of July, 1904 [July 24].
    Southern Oregon had formed a little league comprising the towns of Ashland, Gold Hill, Jacksonville and Medford. The managers of the different teams were Billy Hulen for Ashland, a foxy player and who had played on the Tacoma team in the Northwest League for Mike Fisher. Joe Beeman managed the Gold Hill team; Geo. E. Neuber, Jacksonville; and Court Hall the Medford team.
    Ashland, Gold Hill and Medford played mostly home talent except the [pitching] batteries. Neuber of Jacksonville had made up his team mostly from college players from California, using only Eddie Nunan and Eddie and Pat Donegan from Jacksonville. Ashland imported a good pitcher named Martin. Neuber slipped in a pitcher named Lester, but informed the fans that Lester was a miner and actually kept him at the mines part of the time in order that the rest of us would not get wise. I had brought in a fair pitcher named Thode from Red Bluff, but as the going kept getting tougher and rougher I soon saw that I would have to get another pitcher.
    I had been reading about a young pitcher named Henley at Sacramento who was practically winning every game he pitched in that section. Henley was six feet three, slender and a great speedball artist. I sent a man to Sacramento with instructions not to come back without bringing Henley with him, and he sure brought him. The Medford team was pretty low in the percentage column, but by the end of June we were up with the rest. On July the 4th Jacksonville and Ashland played a double header at Ashland, Jacksonville winning both games. Jacksonville was pretty cocky after that and hurled a challenge at me for a match game to be played on the Jacksonville grounds and a one-thousand-dollar side bet. I accepted the challenge, and the date of the game was set to be played in twelve days after the match was made.
    The funny part was I did not think Neuber's man Lester was much of a pitcher, and Neuber did not think my man Henley could pitch for sour apples. As the time grew near for the game the excitement of the fans grew with it. Outside of Medford the fans thought the Jacksonville team would win. The Medford fans remained loyal and kept betting against nearly all the rest of the county. So confident were the fans that their respective team would win that they raised all the money possible to bet on the game. The betting continued almost up to the time the game was called when the preponderance of Medford money finally made the backers of the Jacksonville team quit, though Neuber, who was a game better, bet me another five hundred dollars a few minutes before the game was called. During the lapse of time of the date of the game, I had put an old ex-big-leaguer named Dad Houston on first base and captain of the team. I also picked up a very fine player named Sullivan from up north to play second base; Northup, a large young fellow and heavy hitter, played third base; Blackie Moore, a hard man to keep sober but a mighty good hitter and fielder when right, played short. Ben Mitchell, a tremendous hitter and the best outfielder of the league, played center field. Frank Lumley, a brother to the Lumley then with Brooklyn, was catcher; a tall, rangy fellow named McCarthy played left field. Pug Isaacs had the honor of being the only Medford boy to play in the game. Old Pug was great for hitting line drives for two-baggers. Homer Rothermel, Charley Kings and a couple of other Medford boys were in reserve. Old Dad Houston kept drilling the boys in practice right up to the very day of the game. They sure were a bunch of heavy hitters and good fielders. The team looked so good that it looked like a five-to-one bet that we would win. I swore every player to secrecy in regard to the strength of the team and spread out propaganda that we knew we were up against it, and that I was hedging on my bets because the team looked so weak. This only increased the betting, and every player on the Medford team bet all the money he could possibly raise. On the day of the game excitement was intense. Betters with sacks of twenty-dollar gold pieces were passing among the crowd in the grandstand calling out their bets. So much money was offered at the last moment by the Medford betters that the backers of the Jacksonville team had to quit.
    Billy Hulen, manager of the Ashland team, was chosen umpire. Afterwards I found out Hulen had bet one hundred dollars on Jacksonville. What might have happened if the score had been close is hard to tell.
    Hulen called out the batteries Henley and Lumley for Medford and Lester and Collins for Jacksonville, and the game was on. Our boys began hitting Lester hard from the start. Lester lasted just two innings, and the game was won. In desperation Neuber put in one pitcher after another, and still our boys kept up their heavy hitting. Jacksonville had large grounds, yet we knocked three home runs, interspersed with numerous two-and three-baggers. Jacksonville outfielders were tired out. Eddie Donegan chasing a fly ball in left center run into the fence and knocked all his front teeth out. During all this time our pitcher Henley was as cool as an iceberg and burning them over so fast that Jacksonville batters were dizzy. I do not remember what runs we made in each inning, but do remember the final score which was seventeen to one in favor of Medford. We would have shut Jacksonville out if Hulen had allowed us a double play that we were clearly entitled to. More than twenty thousand dollars were won on this game. Charley Young and myself won four thousand dollars. Cack Henley, who had let the Jacksonville team down with five hits, was immediately grabbed by the San Francisco coast league team, where he remained eight years and made a brilliant record. Henley died about three months ago at Sacramento.
Medford Mail Tribune, February 16, 1930, page 6   For a brief account of this game from the Jacksonville point of view, click here.  Here's the Medford account:

Standing of the Teams.
                        WON     LOST  PERCENT
Ashland          9           6         666
Medford         9           7         562
Jacksonville   8           8         500
Gold Hill        5         10         333
    At a meeting of the board of directors of the Rogue River Valley Baseball League held at Jacksonville on Sunday, it was decided by mutual consent to drop the schedule of games planned and to dissolve the league. This action was taken at the instance of the managers of the Gold Hill and Jacksonville teams, and for the reason that the attendance at the games had not been sufficient to justify the expense necessary to keep the teams up. The expenses of all the clubs have been very heavy, on account of the rivalry between the teams, which led the managers to go out after the best talent they could secure.
    Manager Hall went to Ashland Monday to try to arrange a series of games with the Ashland team. The Ashland fans, however, had chilly pedal extremities and no games were arranged.
    The closing of the league in such a summary fashion left the management of the Medford team with a bunch of good players on hand and nobody to play against. It cost quite a good deal to get the aggregation together, and Medford would have won the pennant with ease had the schedule been played out. That might have been one of the reasons the other magnates were anxious to dissolve. It would have afforded the Medford fans much pleasure to have seen Sullivan, Mitchell, Moore, Henley and the rest of those hard wielders of willow up against Martin's curves. There would sure been a spanking in store for the young man from San Jose. Hulen is pretty game, but he probably waded in Ashland's "ice cold" water before Mique No. 2 got there Monday, because his "tootsies" were cold when it come to making a match game with the "Grays."
    Sunday at Jacksonville the last regular game of the league was played between Medford and Jacksonville and resulted in favor of the Grays, by a score of 19 to 1. The slaughter was terrific. The Medford lads fell upon young Mr. Lester's stunts and pounded them all over the lot and even were unkind enough to knock some of them over the fence. The Gold Bricks couldn't assimilate "Tamarack" Henley's offerings and would have been shut out if Hulen could have seen a double play which was pulled off in the only inning in which one of Neuber's hired men touched the rubber.
    Medford opened a package of fireworks in the first seance. After Sullivan had been hit by the pitcher, had gone to second on Husten's sacrifice and stolen third, Mitchell lifted one over the fence for a home run. That made two.
    From then Medford scored each inning excepting the sixth and eighth, running up six scores in the ninth.
    In the third seance Pat Donegan, running for Henley's home run over the fence, struck the fence and loosened a couple of teeth. He was looking at the ball and paying no attention to where he was going. In this connection the Mail wishes to say that the rooters should have manhood and human sympathy enough about them to refrain from jeering a man when he gets hurt in the game.
    Jacksonville scored in the sixth. Ed. Donegan made first when Northup took a hard chance at an infield hit and fumbled it. Collins fanned. Clyne hit to second, forcing Donegan, and the ball was whipped back to first by Moore in time to catch Clyne, but Hulen didn't see it. Strub rapped out a two-bagger and Clyne scored. That was the only time the bell rang for Jacksonville.
                                                1      2       3      4       5      6       7      8       9
Medford        2      1      2      3      4      0      1      0      6
Jacksonville  0      0      0      0      0      1      0      0      0
Medford Mail July 29, 1904, page 1

Last revised September 6, 2009