From the Archives: Sports photos through the years

With sporting events canceled due to COVID-19, we’re taking this opportunity to bring sports (photos) to you! Below, you’ll find a selection of sports photos from the Whatcom Museum Photo Archives. The photos cover a wide variety of athletic pursuits, from bowling to lacrosse and basketball. While many are posed team shots, some capture the athletes in action!

Sports photos through the years

Photos progress by year, starting in 1891 and ending at 1983. Have a favorite sports photo or recognize a face? Let us know in the comments. Now, let the games begin!

The 1890s

Wheelmen Ride Bicycles, June 22, 1891

The 1880s saw invention of the “Safety,” a bicycle that featured front and rear wheels of moderate and relatively equal size. Safety models were enthusiastically adopted in Bellingham Bay towns where penny-farthings, with a huge front wheel and tiny back wheel, were anything but safe on mud-rutted streets.

The “wheelmen” pictured here were part of a parade welcoming the first Canadian Pacific train’s arrival in New Whatcom. They took his portrait at the Dobbs & Fleming studio on Holly Street to commemorate the event.

The New Whatcom Wheelmen, a cycling organization “open to ladies and gentlemen,” formed in the 1890s to lobby for good roads and raise funds for a bike trail out to Lake Whatcom.

📷: Dobbs & Fleming | Gift of Gordon Tweit

Sports photo from 1891

Early 1900s

Diamond Cutters, 1903

When Whatcom High School opened on Halleck Street in 1903, it celebrated its inaugural year by fielding these dug-out dandies. 

In the front row (left to right) are Earnest Tafel, first base; Roy Brown, catcher; Page Fowle, manager; Homer Dean, team captain; and Charles Peters, short stop. Back row (l to r): Errol McLeod, pitcher and third base; Will Butler; George Simmons, right field; Arthur McCoubrey, left field; Hugh Rickerson; and Glen Barlow, second base. 

Homer Dean, Whatcom’s star pitcher, must have forgotten his uniform on picture day as the school initials appear tacked to his shirt in this sports photo.

📷: J.W. Sandison | Whatcom Museum Archives

1903 baseball photo

Lacrosse Clubbers, August 26, 1906

The Bellingham Lacrosse Club pioneered the sport locally when it formed in 1905.

Dan Murray played for and managed the team, which mostly found competition across the border against British Columbian squads. Home games were a streetcar ride away on the Silver Beach baseball grounds at Lake Whatcom.

In the front row (left to right): W. Knight, O. Pearson, Ed Decker, J. Chisholm, Frank Robbins, captain; Dan Murray, manager; and C. Rickerson. Standing (l to r) are Jim Craske, J. Lewis, the “substitute”; C. Walling, Bob Tate, goalie J. Larson, E. Brown, and H. Carswell, club secretary.

The Bellingham club, which disbanded in 1908, saw its greatest triumph on May 24, 1907, when they defeated Chilliwack in an away game.

📷: Gift of Minnie Johnson via Darla Castagno | Whatcom Museum Archives

Lacrosse sports photo

The 1930s

Triumphant Sticklers, 1930

This Whatcom High field hockey team celebrated their third straight championship in 1930. They captured the top title as surprising sophomores, repeat juniors and undefeated seniors. The squad saw only one goal scored against them during their last season.

In the front row (left to right) are Ethel Jacobsen, captain Pearl McFarland, and Violet McDonald. In the second row (l to r) are Esther Hovde, Irene Sulton, Lois Magnuson, and Eloise Rankin. Back row, (l to r) standing are Elizabeth Korthauer, Helen Howell, Iola Grue, Doris Benedict, and Ernestine Dix.

Field hockey, exclusively a girls’ game, was introduced at Whatcom High in 1925. The sport’s last year at the school came in 1932 before being slashed from the district’s Depression-era budget.

📷: J.W. Sandison | Whatcom Museum Archives

Field hockey team

The 1940s

Gritty Gridiron Action, October 22, 1948

The Whatcom Junior High Warriors struck early when Bill Tarr went on a 34-yard gallop at Battersby Field against South Everett. Coached by Frank Geri, Whatcom went on to win 32-0. 

Battersby Field at Girard and F streets was a muddy mess during football season, serving as home turf to Whatcom Junior High, Bellingham High and Western Washington College of Education. The dirt doubled as a baseball infield in another season, leaving it especially sloppy. This led players and fans to nickname the field “Battersby Bog.”

 📷: Jack Carver | Whatcom Museum Archives

Football players

Close Play at First, May 8, 1949

Bellingham Bells’ player Tom Jones stretches for the bag in a home game against the Seattle Elks at Battersby Field. 

Seattle’s shortstop had bobbled Jones’ grounder and Jones was safe despite Elks first baseman Warren Parkhurst’s reach for the late throw. Bellingham went on to win 3-2. 

The semi-professional Bells first took to the diamond in 1940 but didn’t hit their stride until after the boys returned from World War II. Under manager Joe Martin, the team won 20 State Championships between 1946 and 1973.

📷: Jack Carver | Whatcom Museum Archives

Sports photo Baseball players

The 1950s

Abrupt Change in Strategy, April 5, 1957

Sedro-Woolley High School’s Gary Moon soars over the final barrier in the 120-yard high hurdles just as his teammate Jeff Heverling stumbles and relinquishes the lead. 

Moon won the race with Bellingham High’s Larry Clevenger (left) coming in second. Heverling wasn’t hurt and returned to win the 200-yard low hurdles later in the day. 

Despite losing a few races, Bellingham won the season’s opening track meet hosted by Sedro-Woolley.

📷: Jack Carver | Whatcom Museum Archives

Man jumping a hurdle

Battle Under the Basket, January 14, 1955

The Viking men’s basketball team dominated the backboards against rival Eastern Washington during a Friday night game on Western’s home court in this January 1955 sports photo.

In this tangled tussle, Western center Bob Forbes (at left) wasn’t about to relinquish the ball as he was swarmed by (left to right) Ken Hill, Bob Underwood and Will McGillivray. Western won the contest 73 to 54.

📷: Jack Carver | Whatcom Museum Archives

Basketball players

The 1960s

Timber Tumblers Get Trophies, 1960

Whatcom Junior High’s girls’ bowling team pose with their trophies at 20th Century Lanes on State Street.  

Pictured (left to right) are Carla Anderson, Linda Thomas, Linda Allen, coach Agnes Tweit, Kim McCullough, and Sharon Chandler. 

Whatcom first offered bowling as an off-campus sport in 1958. The boys met once a week to play at Park Lanes and the girls at 20th Century. 

Agnes Tweit, math teacher by day, was one of Bellingham’s best bowlers and could provide the girls’ team of 35 “timber tumblers” with plenty of pointers. In 1945, Tweit rolled a three-game series score of 648. In 1947, she won the Class “A” Women’s Singles Championship of the Northwest International Bowling Congress.

📷: Jack Carver | Whatcom Museum Archives

Bowlers

The 1970s 

Unforeseen Champions, 1970

In August 1970, Bellingham roller hockey team the Bruins returned from Lincoln, Nebraska, having won the national championship. Without fanfare, the team had traveled without coach or manager, battled in a tournament of 17 teams and come away victorious. 

Pictured on their home rink in the Armory on State Street are (front row, left to right) Mickey Strickler, goalie Ron Perry, and Mark Friedl. 

Standing (l to r) are Jim Stevenson, Craig Angell, Rich Tawes, Ray Moore, and Bruce Ingells. Moore scored 14 goals during the competition and Stevenson had scored 10, including the game winner in the sudden-death final.

📷: Jack Carver | Whatcom Museum Archives

Roller hockey team sports photo

The 1980s

Duck and Cover, June 4, 1983

A base runner for Joe’s Drive-In ducks to avoid possibly getting hit with a ball during a softball game at Geri Fields.

📷: Tore Ofteness | Whatcom Museum Archives

Softpall sports photo

We hope you’ve enjoyed this roundup of sports photos from our archives. You can see more photos and items from our collection by viewing our Virtual Exhibits web page.

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