Court Hall Remembers . . .
Medford vs. the Grants Pass Sports
Court Hall Remembers---
(Recollections of Jackson County Sporting Events by Veteran Sportsman.)
I never took any active part in the foot races but generally knew what was going on. We had a good many foot races in the early days, and I don't remember of one being on the square; most generally some one person would be the sucker, though sometimes a runner would drop in on a certain town, win a few races to gain the confidence of the sports, only to throw them down the very next race, providing the time was ripe for a cleanup.
In those days every town had a few local runners; some professional would drop in under an assumed name to beat all the local boys. About this time his confederate would show up to the detriment of the local sports. Such an event happened about the year of 1893 between the sports of Grants Pass and the sports of Medford. A big, fine-looking young fellow named Edwards drifted into Grants Pass. Edwards was a runner of some note; after winning several races in Grants Pass for his backers, the sporting element of that town went daffy over him. Some of the sporting bloods of Medford conceived an idea wherein the Grants Pass sports could be relieved of some of their surplus cash. Medford imported a runner from Corvallis named Cameron. This fellow Cameron was rather a small man, but close to a ten-second runner. To those who were on the inside Cameron was never known to run a square race. Once he took a high school boy from a nearby town to Corvallis and matched him against his (Cameron's) own brother. Needless to say, the boy returned home flat broke.
After some preliminary sparring Medford matched Cameron against Edwards of Grants Pass. The distance was one hundred yards for a $500 side bet, the race to be run at the Central Point fairgrounds. In order to make a perfect getaway the race was run towards the main gate that opened up from the county road. The finish was not more than thirty yards from the main gate. This arrangement was necessary for the future welfare of both runners.
Readers will realize by this time that the race was fixed for Cameron to win. Everything went through as arranged, but at the finish the runners never stopped running. Cameron, once outside the big gate, jumped in a buggy where he had the stakeholder, John Lewis, waiting for him. A cut of the whip, and Cameron was soon out of sight. Edwards had neglected to prepare for any such emergency, but turned north running one hundred yards, then headed east directly for Central Point. Edwards was letting no grass grow under his feet as he ran. For a moment or so the Central Point sports seemed stunned, then realizing they had been "gypped," Alex Ireland and another fellow whose name I do not recall rushed to the big gate with huge revolvers and began firing at Edwards, who was now one hundred and fifty yards away. They emptied their guns, but not a shot touched Edwards. Edwards made a world's record running to Central Point. As luck would have it, the first man he bumped into was Dave Lyons, the marshal. Lyons hurriedly locked Edwards in jail for safety. The Grants Pass contingent hunted for Edwards for several hours, but on arrival of the evening train took their passage for home sadder but wiser men. Late that night some of the Medford boys went to Central Point, returned with Edwards and got him out of the country. Cameron soon left, but came back, later to beat a Russian Jew out of $2700.00, the story of which I will relate later.
Medford Mail Tribune, March 9, 1930, page 6
Last revised November 30, 2009